ABBE FARIA: A Man without a home . . .
by Dom Martin

Survival is man's solar vehicle to the geographic boundaries of existence. While some end up living in deserts and villages, others make it into cities and across continents. The scope of making it from good to better, is infinitely good. So also the odds! And then comes defeat. Suddenly, everything seems wrecked, or vain. Ideals fall apart and survival becomes a cumbersome ally. Or a psychological alley, capable of altering one's destiny, or annulling it altogether!

Defeat, therefore -- so to say -- is survival's first landmark. Death, is the last. From that point after, others become the judge and jury. Still others, the appellates or appellants. Yet, not everyone who walks through the streets and ghettos of survival, makes it to humanity's Hall of Fame and find the door open! Only the destined do. Abbe Faria was one of them.

The only son of a priest and nun, he ended becoming a priest himself -- a hypnotist, revolutionary, professor and scientist. His ambitions were as intemperate and secular as the times he was living in. And he endeavored to make them insecular . . . . lithurgic! But fate had its own ambitious plans. It gave him glimpses of effulgent success and then tarnished it with unbearable frustrations. It initiated him into a world of outstanding wisdom, and then subjected him to ridicule. It accompanied him to the balconies of fame and then abandoned him at poverty's threshold. And .when he could take it no more, it concluded its dynasty in He died of apoplexy on November 20, 1819, very much in the custody of material poverty.

In death, Abbe Faria is yet to die. He left behind no addresses and his grave remains unmarked and unknown.....somewhere in Montmartre. But history kept track of his footprints. Alexander Dumas immortalized him in his legendary work, The Count of Monte Cristo. Dr. James Braid expounded his theories fully and further, thus securing for hypnotism a permanent place in the galaxy of science. The Nobel laureate and scientist, Dr. Egas Moniz, consolidated him with supreme distinctions in his work: 0 Padre Faria na Historia de Hypnotismo. France perpetuated him in the civic and scientific pages of her cultural heritage. Portugal as well. Panjim too, with a spirit-stirring statue!
In the foreboding years, his statue will continue to be a symbol of our times. Of glory, wrapped in mystery and uncertainty, and then ignored. Perhaps, this is what survival is all about: a hypnosis! A series of truths, never quite speaking the truth, because man is not here long enough to understand the motives of every single truth. Only death claims to know, and professes it in whichever form it is projected. The marble plaque in Abbe Faria's ancestral home, however, professes something else. It is almost a register of his birth and death. Because, nothing of Abbe-Faria in that house appears to be respectfully kept, or conserved.

Twice in the past, I made a plea that the house Abbe Faria was born in, be turned into a national monument. Or, transformed into a place of learning, for scientific seminars, exchanges and advancements. But nothing has evolved. If every proposed house were to be converted into a national monument, then half of humanity would be out in the streets. And it would be insane to do so. But in this instance, the situation is different. Men who dedicate their lives for the intellectual betterment of others, come once in humanity!

 This article appeared in O Herald in April of 1986
Photo by author