Gra­cia Men­des Nasi

The Oskar Schindler of the In­qui­si­tion 1510-69

All About History - - DON’T CALL ME PRINCESS -

Tar­geted by the bru­tal Span­ish, Por­tuguese and Ital­ian In­qui­si­tions, non-catholics liv­ing in south­ern Europe were sub­ject to tor­ture by mob, ran­sack­ing, and ul­ti­mately ex­pul­sion from their home coun­tries. How­ever, the Jews of this pe­riod had a guardian an­gel look­ing over them: wealthy ship­ping mag­nate (and smuggler) Gra­cia Men­des Nasi. Born Beat­riz de Luna, she had, like many oth­ers, to keep her re­li­gion a se­cret. But as she got more in­volved with the run­ning of her mer­chant hus­band’s busi­ness, she grew em­bold­ened to do ex­actly what she wanted - In­quisi­tors be damned. When the In­qui­si­tion be­gan, she es­tab­lished a mas­sive net­work of safe houses, spies, and mes­sen­gers to shut­tle refugees from as far away as Lisbon to Jew-friendly Con­stantino­ple. She even­tu­ally moved to Con­stantino­ple her­self and be­gan liv­ing openly as a Jew, us­ing her Jewish name of Gra­cia. She even tried es­tab­lish­ing a fledg­ling Jewish state in what is mod­ern-day Tiberias, Is­rael. She helped so many hun­dreds of peo­ple and did so much good, that sev­eral peo­ple thought she might be the Jewish mes­siah. Much of the Sephardic Jewish pop­u­la­tion of to­day owes its con­tin­ued ex­is­tence to her ex­haus­tive work.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.