Dulcínia, connections and memories

Dulcínia Paiva shared with us the memories of someone who, never working at the Hospital Colónia Rovisco Pais (HCRP), maintained a strong connection to the institution. The father, the husband and his godfather worked at the HCRP. The family home and the small commercial establishment they owned in Tocha, were meeting places for the HCRP employees, with whom Dulcínia lived from an early age.

With the sharing of these memories, homesickness arose. D. Dulcínia told us about her father, Antero Inácio, with great emotion and told us: “he was very modest, but he was a great reference for me. I was always very proud of my father!”


Mr. Antero Inácio was from Tocha and studied at the Industrial and Commercial School of Porto. He was a self-taught photographer and wrote many verses, “some for the Rancho da Tocha”. His collaboration at the HCRP coincided with the period in which Dr. Manuel dos Santos Silva was director of the HCRP (1947 and 1952). “he was in charge of photographing the newly hospitalized patients, and of photographing the lesions as they were taking the medication, to document the clinical evolution of the patients”. Dulcínia, remembers two cases that impressed her that father told her: “a man who had many lepromas on his face and after treatment he got much better” and “a girl who, because of the disease, had no hair at all” and asked her father to be photographed in a more isolated location”. These images were then “reproduced on slides by my father and shown in leprology courses and congresses”.


Alongside this work, Mr. Antero Inácio collaborated in the review of scientific articles produced by Dr. Manuel dos Santos Silva – “he put commas, one that, one that was missing…”. And when he participated in the Brigades “it was about writing.” From those times, D. Dulcínia recalled the gatherings in which doctors, nurses and other HCRP employees met at her father’s house, and of “everyone wearing masks and scaring her at Carnival”. Sometimes the superior sister, Sister Azinhais, also went – “she was a tall lady, very distinguished, with an exemplary posture.” She showed us some photographs taken by his father. “Died young, aged 59”, in 1961, but she still keeps in her memory some of the words of the written tribute they paid to her father and what they said in the newspaper Boa Nova on the day of his funeral (15-09-1961): “collaborated with the incipient Management of the Hospital Colónia Rovisco Pais, at a time when there was nothing but buildings. How he knew how to create a friend in every patient! How did he know to get out of there! What a boost! What diplomacy!”


Dulcínia met her husband in the hospital, he was older, and her parents didn’t really agree with the union, precisely because of that. But they got married in 1961 in the New Cathedral of Coimbra. She was accompanied by her godfather Dr. Manuel dos Santos Silva. He and his godmother were great references in her life. She was a nurse before getting married and, together with Nurse Ana Isabel Magalhães, helped her deliver one of D. Dulcinia’s children.



Her husband, António Ferreira Paiva, was a nurse and graduated from the Dr. Ângelo da Fonseca Nursing School in Coimbra. Before working at Tocha, as a bachelor, he had already worked in Buarcos and in the Hospitals of the University of Coimbra. He started working at the HCRP in 1956 and D. Dulcínia remembers him telling that he still worked with Professor Bissaya Barreto, when he came to operate, and that he said to him: “Paiva, I want everything well sterilized (…)!”


A few years after the wedding he was sent to “brigades” in the region of Leiria, where the couple ended up residing. António Paiva was one of the nurses assigned to the home nursing service, who, by motorbike, visited outpatients fortnightly to apply the injectable sulfone, thus ensuring the consolidation of the treatment. “Some patients called him Mr. surgeon” and there was “a patient who only wore her underwear when she had the injection…”, said D. Dulcínia, adding that “in Marinha Grande there was a lady who was sick, but her husband did not know! I believe that it was during one of the visits to this patient that my husband had the car accident. He was with his brother, who died. My husband was not to blame. He had several fractures and was conditioned from there. He eventually returned to the HCRP and in the final phase he worked in the clinical archive, where he stayed until the age of 69”.



Dulcínia also shared the esteem she had for Dr. Manuel dos Santos Silva and, in addition to the memories arising from living with her family, as she was his goddaughter, she shared memories of two important moments in her career – the tribute paid to her at Torcha when she returned from Brazil, of which he confesses he still remembers the final words of the speech given by his godfather: “Thank you people from my land!”; and the dinner offered to Mr. Raoul Follereau when he was visiting the HCRP, in which D. Dulcínia took part, accompanied by her godfather, on behalf of her father.


Dulcínia’s interaction with employees and patients and, like other employees of the Hospital, was also godmother of a sick child.

Text based on oral testimony, in 2022. Validated by the interviewee. Interview and writing by Cristina Nogueira – CulturAge