Francisco Maldonado da Silva

For the leader of the rebel Comuneros in the Revolt of the Comuneros, who was captured and beheaded at the Battle of Villalar in 1521, see Francisco Maldonado. For the Spanish football player, see Francisco José Maldonado.

Francisco Maldonado da Silva (1592 –1639) was an Argentine marrano physician, was burned at the stake with eleven other Jews in Lima, in the largest Auto-da-fé recorded in history.

Francisco was born in San Miguel de Tucumán to a marrano family of Portuguese Jewish background. He learned about his Jewishness through his father Diego Nuñez da Silva, who was a Jewish physician. Francisco studied the scriptures while he was a medical student. After a few years in Chile he decided to assume fully his Jewishness and stop hiding as a Christian (marrano), circumcising himself and adopting a new name Eli Nazareno or Elijah the Nazarite.[1][2] He grew his hair and beard and started signing his name "Heli Nazareo, unworthy servant of God of Israel, alias Silva".[3] He was abducted at night and taken to Lima where he was held in the secret prisons of the Inquisition for 6 years, during those years he was confronted 13 times with Christian theologians to try to help him find the "True Faith". His astounding knowledge made him valuable even to his enemies. He was held accountable for the heresy of honoring the "law of Moses", something objectionable to the Holy Inquisition.

At the time of his death, he had been imprisoned since 1627.[4] According to a 2010 book, he was imprisoned because he tried to convert his two sisters, who had converted to Catholicism, and they denounced him.[5]

Further reading


  1. Cohn-Sherbok, Dan (2010). Dictionary of Jewish Biography. A & C Black. p. 268. ISBN 1441197842. Retrieved May 7, 2015.
  2. Beller, Jacob (1969). Jews in Latin America. J. David. p. 147. Retrieved May 7, 2015.
  3. Bodian, Miriam (2007). Dying in the Law of Moses: Crypto-Jewish Martyrdom in the Iberian World. Indiana University Press. p. 135. Retrieved May 7, 2015.
  4. Segal Freilich, Ariel (1999). Jews of the Amazon: Self-exile in Earthly Paradise. Jewish Publication Society. p. 40. ISBN 0827606699. Retrieved May 7, 2015.
  5. Frank, Ben G. (2010). A Travel Guide to the Jewish Caribbean and Latin America. Pelican Publishing Company. p. 431. ISBN 1455613304. Retrieved May 7, 2015.


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