SciELO - Scientific Electronic Library Online

SciELO - Scientific Electronic Library Online


FLECK, Eliane Cristina Deckmann  e  POLETTO, Roberto. Circulação e produção de saberes e práticas científicas na América meridional no século XVIII: uma análise do manuscrito Materia medica misionera de Pedro Montenegro (1710). Hist. cienc. saude-Manguinhos [online]. 2012, vol.19, n.4, pp.1121-1138. ISSN 0104-5970.


Evidence of mixed medicine in a work written by a Jesuit brother in southern America in the eighteenth century



We now know that as well as waters, powders, elixirs and pills, the dispensaries maintained at the colleges, missions and farms of the Society of Jesus in America also had classical medical works, medical recipe books, and surgical treatises, which oriented the work of the missionaries in charge of the ‘healing arts’. However, Materia medica misionera, written by Jesuit brother Pedro de Montenegro in 1710, a work analyzed by Eliane Fleck, a professor at Universidade do Vale do Rio dos Sinos (Unisinos), and Roberto Poletto, a master’s student at the same university, bears witness to the intense cultural exchange between Amerindians and Jesuit missionaries, especially concerning knowledge about medicinal plants and healing practices. The work also reveals the important role of indigenous informants, nurses and scribes in identifying, gathering and experimenting with native plants and in the circulation of the medical and pharmaceutical knowledge systematized by the Jesuits amongst their different provinces in the Americas, Europe and the Orient”.

A manuscript version of Materia medica misionera dated 1790, which the Unisinos researchers unearthed in the archives of Instituto Anchietano de Pesquisas, provides proof that some of these works were copied and circulated amongst the different Jesuit colleges, missions and farms, spreading medical knowledge and practices and providing guidance for nurses, surgeons, apothecaries and physicians on the treatment of certain ailments and epidemics.

The historians, with financial support from CNPq and Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado do Rio Grande do Sul (FAPERGS), are now seeking other catalogs of medical botany, medical recipe books and medical and surgical treatises that may have been produced by the Jesuits in southern America, whose copies, upon circulating to different places, contributed to the spread of European academic medical knowledge and the healing knowledge and practices of the Amerindians

"Circulation and production of knowledge and scientific practices in southern America in the eighteenth century: an analysis of Materia medica misionera, a manuscript by Pedro Montenegro (1710)" is published in História, Ciências, Saúde Manguinhos, v.19, n.4, outubro-dezembro 2012, and is available online at http:


Cristina Deckmann Fleck
55 51 35920607
Universidade do Vale do Rio dos Sinos, Brazil