Portuguese American Journal

Book | The Relic | by José Maria Eça de Queirós – Editor’s Note

The Relic tells the story of an orphaned young man, Teodorico Raposo, who is brought to Lisbon from a provincial town in Portugal to live with his aunt, a rigid, stern―and oftentimes―forbidding Catholic. Her devout circle of acquaintances is made up almost entirely of priests, many of whom are more concerned with appearances than spirituality, and seeking her and their approval, Teodorico is driven to attend Mass, say rosaries, and frequent churches, all the while awakening to sensuality, women, and the material life in conflict with “Auntie’s” devotions, which are―inwardly―devoid of the charity preached by Christ.

When Teodorico obtains a degree from the University of Coimbra, Auntie sends him to the Holy Land to search for a relic to cure her ills. He meets up with a learned German author and, after a sojourn to Egypt, the two make their way to the land trod by Jesus. It is there that Teodorico has the dream that takes up nearly one third of the novel: he witnesses the travails that lead to the Passion and Crucifixion, as well as the aftermath of Christ’s death.

Faced now with his mission, Teodorico embarks on a search. He soon comes upon an item, a “true” relic authenticated by his German friend, the sanctity of which will send Auntie to the heights of spiritual bliss, so much so that she will make him her heir. But when Teodorico returns to Lisbon with it, deception awaits her as the result of a simple mistake that had been made, and disinheritance awaits him as a result of Auntie’s anger and vindictiveness.


“Fedorchek offers a highly accessible and readable translation of a lesser-known text by Eça de Queirós, in line with his previous translations of other works by the same author, including The Falling Snow and Other Stories and The Count of Abranhos. Although Eça was arguably the most prominent and influential realist writer of nineteenth-century Portugal, only a few of his works are studied and taught with regularity in the United States. This translation adds to the growing oeuvre of translations that make Eça’s work more accessible.”―Anna-Lisa Halling, Brigham Young University


About the Author

José Maria Eça de Queirós (1845-1900) was a prominent Portuguese novelist and diplomat who remains an influential figure in the world of literature. Considered one of the greatest literary figures in Portuguese literature, he is known for his realistic and satirical novels, short stories, and critical works. While engaging in the literary life of his native Portugal, he held diplomatic posts in Havana, London, and Paris. His writing is characterized by keen observation, sharp wit, and criticism of societal norms. His works continue to be widely read and studied, both in Portugal and internationally,

Robert M. Fedorchek is professor emeritus of modern languages and literature at Fairfield University and translator of Don Álvaro, or the Force of Fate; Juanita la Larga; The Illusions of Doctor Faustino; The Count of Abranhos and The Falling Snow and other Stories (all CUA Press).

Book Details

Title: The Relic

Author: José Maria Eça de Queirós

Translator: Robert M. Fedorchek

Publisher‏:The Catholic University of America Press

Publication Date: July 7, 2023

Language‏: ‎English

Paperback‏: ‎404 pp

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