A new book (in Portuguese), entitled, Carção, The Capital of Marranismo, was recently launched in the village of Carção, in the province of Tras-os-Montes (behind the mountains), in north-eastern Portugal.
The book, 198 pages long, is based on primary research of 50 Inquisition files out of 250 cases from Carção held at the national archives at Torre de Tombo in Lisbon. Written by Maria Fernanda Guimarães and Julio Andrade, the work is based on Fernanda's research at the archives. Fernanda, a retired travel executive works full time studying and transcribing archival records at Torre de Tombo.
The Inquisition files are quite detailed and in most cases in excellent condition. The files, totalling approximately 40,000 cases read like modern day court transcripts, rich in details of family geneology, assets and business interests of the accused, Jewish rituals the accused allegedly participated in, the food they ate, the torture they underwent, particulars of sentencing etc. The records survived the great Lisbon earthquake of 1755 because they were housed in St. Jorge's castle high up on a hill east of downtown (baixa)Lisbon which was destroyed by successive quakes, a tsunami and 3 days of fire starting November 1, 1755. The largest judaria in Portugal had been located in the area destroyed.
To see the cover of the book and read more about its contents, see the blog of the friends of Carção (http://almocreve.blogs.sapo.pt/24786.html).
Also, Portugal's national educational Tv channel, RTP2, filmed a 10 minute segment on the story about the Jews of Carção with some exceptional images of older local people who still identify themselves as Jews to this day. The book launch, attended by over 100 people in a village of 400 include the local reeve and mayor who are sponsoring Fernanda in further research and who wish to reclaim the area's Jewish heritage to promote cultural tourism.
The interview with the book's authors relates the story of a secret rabbi who travelled to Livorno to get instruction and bring back books to Carção. He was the head of a Catholic 'confraria' (ie. a fraternity) which was a cover for the secret Jews of Carção to carry out their rituals, including one entitled 'missa seca', (ie. dry mass). See (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3eDlkoY5S6M)