Letters of a Portuguese Nun: A Literary Mystery in Beja

by Andrea Calabretta

In the seventeenth century, a young Portuguese nun fell in love with a French soldier. But did she really pen the evocative letters begging him to return?

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I first heard the name "Mariana Alcoforado" from a history professor at Evora University in the rural Alentejo region of Portugal - an area not far from Lisbon known for its rolling hills and endless cork and olive trees. The story Professor Libanio Murteira Reis told of a clandestine love affair between this nun and a soldier - and the subsequent literary mystery that unfolded - enchanted me so much that I de...

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