The Fountain of Miracles

In 1801 a hideous crime passionnel was commited by a friar named José de Jesus Maria Lopes.

Friar Lopes' Monastery - Photo by Erin Bourgois
Friar Lopes' Monastery - Photo by Erin Bourgois

Back then the water supply in João Pessoa still consisted of wells, cisterns and fountains spreaded throughout the city, so people headed to such places to fetch clear water or wash themselves.


Some of these places can still be seen today, specially at the Arruda Câmara Park (known as "Bica") and at the botanical garden "Mata do Buraquinho".

Friar Lopes belonged to the franciscan order and he used to lurk behind bushes to watch Tereza, a mulatto* woman, wash herself every night at this fountain.

He was so spellbound by her beauty that he allowed the desire to take over his religious beliefs.


He started a secret relationship with Tereza, he was possessive about her. Both used to meet at night, away from the reproaching eyes of the church and society.


On the other hand, Tereza allegedly had other lovers and this of course didn't suit the jealous friar Lopes. His jealousy and possessiveness turned out uncontrollable to the point he would rather see his beloved dead than having to share her with other men.


Thus, the friar settled a meeting with Tereza at the Fountain of Miracles, where both should bath naked (as they usually did), at midnight.


To her surprise, friar Lopes didn't show up alone. He was accompanied by two slaves of the monastery, who assisted him. Tereza was then brutally abused by the friar, she suffered serious inner injuries due to the assault. Friar Lopes even abused her with a wood rod, which ended up perforating her body. He left her behind to bleed to death.

Location of the Fountain of Miracles. Source: Google Street View, May 2015
Location of the Fountain of Miracles. Source: Google Street View, May 2015

He didn't realize though that his barbaric actions were witnessed by Tereza's little daughter Aninha. Horrified, she sent for help and friar Lopes and his two accomplices were caught and arrested.


They were all tried and received life sentences. However, the religious franciscan served his life sentence in a monastery.


The Fountain of Miracles doesn't exist anymore. All what is left are the rests of a wall where the fountain was located.


As a poor, mulatto woman, Tereza's story only remained alive because her daughter insisted on telling it publicly, over and over again. She did it persistently until her death, at the age of 90.




*the usage of this term serves a merely historical context