ABBE FARIA

 

PICTORIAL BIOGRAPHY

by

Luis S.R. Vas

All photos submitted by Author from his personal collection

 

 

SOMETIME in the early 1950s, British novelist and travel writer Norman Lewis arrived in Panjim, Goa’s capital, by steamboat. "The quayside, which is really the heart of the town,” noted Lewis in the inevitable travelogue that emerged from the visit, "is presided over by a statue, not--as one would have expected--of the great Albuquerque, founder of the colony, but of one José Custodio Faria (see below), who, the inscription relates, 'discovered the doctrine of hypnotic suggestion'. Faria, who is not mentioned in short textbooks on the subject, is dressed in a wicked squire cloak of the Wuthering Heights period, and is shown strikingly in action. His subject--or victim--a young lady with a Grecian hairstyle, has been caught in the moment of falling, one trim foot in the air, left hip about to strike the ground, while Faria leans over her, fingers potently extended. Her expression is rapt; his intense, perhaps demoniacal...".         

Abbe Faria’s statue in Panjim created by the award winning sculptor Ramchandra Pandurang Kamat of Madkai (below) and installed in Panjim in 1945

 

Who was Faria?

He was a native of Goa, western India, then a Portuguese colony (see map at right)

 

Jose Custodio Faria, better known as Abbe Faria, was born in Goa’s Candolim village  on May 31, 1756 to Caetano Vitorino Faria and Rosa Maria de Souza in whose house he lived (below).

 

Abbe Faria’s house in Candolim, today an orphanage. 

The inset plaque reads in Portuguese: The place of birth on May 31, 1776, of  the genial creator of scientific hypnotism, Fr. Jose Custodio de Faria known in the cultured world as Abbe Faria 

Jose Custodio de Faria was baptized in this church in Candolim. His parents did not get on with each other and decided to separate with the Church’s permission, the father becoming a priest and the mother a nun.

Abbe Faria’s father was from Colvale. He (the father) was baptized in this church.

 

Abbe Faria’s mother joined St. Monica convent (above and below) in Old Goa as a nun and rose to become its prioress and acquired the appropriate nickname of peacock, given her celebrated pride. All the nuns in the convent were also given a bird’s name as their nickname according to their position or occupation – swallow, mynah, sparrow, dove…..

 

Abbe Faria’s father appears to have studied in the old Chorao seminary, near Old Goa, which no longer exists, after he and Abbe Faria’s mother separated.

Abbe Faria lived and studied in Colvale.

After his parents separated  When Abbe Faria was 15, he and his father, armed with letters of introduction to prominent people in Lisbon,  sailed to Portugal in 1771 on board the ship S. Jose’ to improve their prospects

 

 

 

 

In Lisbon, King D. Jose’ I (above) and D. Maria I (below) sponsored Abbe Faria’s studies in Rome

Abbe Faria studied at the College of Propaganda Fide (above and below) in Rome where he obtained his doctorate in theology. He dedicated his thesis to the Portuguese queen. He also wrote a study on the Holy Spirit which he dedicated to the pope who appears to have been sufficiently impressed to invite him to preach before him in the Sistine chapel on the day of the Pentecost

Pope Pius VI who invited Abbe Faria to preach a sermon in his presence in the Sistine Chapel

 

Queen D. Maria I invited Abbe Faria to preach in the Queluz Palace chapel on his return to Lisbon. On climbing the pulpit the young priest was struck dumb by stage fright. His father whispered to him in Konkani from below the pulpit: ‘cator re baji, hi sogli baji’ (Chop off these vegetables, they are all vegetables) whereupon he shed his fear and spoke eloquently. This effect of his father’s words was to have a profound impact on his life, sparking his interest in the power of verbal suggestion in hypnosis. 

 

Abbe Faria moved to France in 1788 and lived at Rue du Ponceau, in Paris, after he decided that Portugal offered him few prospects for advancement

 

Palais Royal (above and below), a theater and gambling complex, which Abbe Faria frequented in Paris during his early days there

The owners of the gambling establishments in the Palais Royal thought that Abbe Faria had special gambling instincts that made them lose money to him. To get rid of him they procured for him a teaching position at the Academy in Marseilles where he thought philosophy for a while and then moved to Nimes (below) where he also taught but was soon bored there and returned to Paris.

Soon after his arrival in Paris Abbe Faria is rumoured to have met Tipu Sultan, the Tiger of Mysore, who was said to have come to Paris to seek French military aid against the British. The Abbe is said to have been commissioned by his father to approach the Sultan for aid to fight against the Portuguese. As it happened neither got what he sought. Abbe Faria’s father is said to have been the brain behind the first anti-colonial uprising in India, the Goan Revolt of 1787 in which Goan priests and others plotted against the Portuguese. But the plot was discovered and the plotters severely punished. Abbe Faria’s father was questioned but no evidence was found against him. Still, he lost his influence at the court and went into oblivion. 

A contemporary sketch of Abbe Faria while in France, the only surviving portrait, other than caricatures

“In Paris, they both [father and son] pursued clerical activities but they did not please the authorities and the son was imprisoned in the Bastille. He spent several months there. One of  his guards was fond of playing draughts; however, each game only lasted a short time and had to be started again. José Custodio de Faria often played with this guard and to prolong the pleasure, he invented hundred-square draughts. This was his first contribution to history,” writes Dr. Mikhail Buyanov, President of the Moscow Psychotherapeutic Academy.

The storming and fall of the Bastille was one of the highlights of  the French Revolution.

During the French Revolution, Abbe Faria led a battalion of citizens against the National Convention

 

The 100-square draughts game which Abbe Faria is said to have invented while incarcerated in the Bastille

  All that remains of the Bastille after it was stormed.