Osorio, Jerome

, a learned Portuguese divine, descended from an illustrious family, was born at Lisbon in 1506. Discovering an extraordinary inclination for literature, he was sent, at thirteen, to the university of Salamanca; where having studied Greek and Latin, and law, he removed at nineteen to Paris, to be instructed in Aristotle’s philosophy, which was then the vogue. From Paris he went to Bologna, where he devoted himself to the study of the sacred Scriptures, and the Hebrew language; and he acquired such reputation, as a theologist, that, on his return home, John III. king of Portugal appointed him professor of divinity at Coimbra, Taking priest’s orders, the care of the church of Tavora was given him by Don Lewis infant of Portugal; and, soon after, the archdeaconry of Evora by cardinal Henry, archbishop of that province, and brother to king John; and at last he was nominated to the bishopric of Sylves in Algarva, by Catharine of Austria, that king’s widow, who was regent of the kingdom during the minority of her grandson Sebastian. When this prince became of age to take the administration of the kingdom into his own hands, he resolved upon an expedition against the Moors in Africa, much against the persuasions of Osorio who, to avoid being an eye-witness of the calamities he dreaded, made various pretences to | go to Rome. Here pope Gregory XIII. gave him many testimonies of his esteem: but he had not been absent above a year, when the king recalled him home; and not long after, Sebastian was killed in the battle of Alcazer, against the Moors, Aug. 4, 1578. During the tumults in Portugal which succeeded this fatal event, Osorio took every means to prevent the people of his diocese from joining in them; but the miseries of his country at this juncture are said to have broke his heart, and he died of grief, Aug. 20, 1580, aged seventy-four.

He is much commended for his piety and charity. He maintained several learned men in his palace, and at meals had some portion out of St. Barnard’s works read; after which all present were at liberty to propose any difficulties that occurred upon it. As a writer, Du Pin observes, that his diction is easy and elegant; for which reason he is called the Cicero of Portugal, as being a great imitator of Cicero, both in style, choice of subjects, and manner of treating them. His compositions are not intermixed with quotations, but consist of connected reasonings. He does not endeavour, in his “Commentaries” and “Paraphrases,” to explain the terms of the text, but to extend the sense of it, and shew its order and series fully, that young divines may improve their diction, and learn to write elegantly, both as Christian philosophers, orators, and divines. His works were collected and published at Rome, 1592, in 4 vols, folio, by Jerome Osorio his nephew, who prefixed his uncle’s life to the edition. The titles of his works are, “De nobilitate civili, et de nobilitate Christiana;” “De gloria,” printed with the foregoing. Some have thought this last to have been written by Cicero; and that Osorio found it, and published it as his own. “De regis institutione et disciplina;” “De rebus Emanuelis regis invictissimi virtute et auspicio gestis;” of which a new edition was published at Coimbra, 1791, 3 vols. 12mo. There is an English translation, 1752, 2 vols. 8vo. “De justitia caelesti, lib. x. ad Reginaldum Polum Cardinalem;” “De vera sapientia, lib. v. ad Gregorium XIII. P. M.;” besides paraphrases and commentaries upon several parts of scripture. He wrote a piece to exhort our queen Elizabeth to turn papist; which was answered by Walter Haddon, master of the requests to that queen. 1


Niceron, vols. II, and XX. —Chaufepie.Dupin.