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auto-da-fé

[aw-toh-duh-fey] /ˌɔ toʊ dəˈfeɪ/
noun, plural autos-da-fé.
1.
the public declaration of the judgment passed on persons tried in the courts of the the Spanish Inquisition, followed by the execution by the civil authorities of the sentences imposed, especially the burning of condemned heretics at the stake.
Origin
1715-1725
1715-25; < Portuguese: act of the faith
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for auto-da-fe

auto-da-fé

/ˌɔːtəʊdəˈfeɪ/
noun (pl) autos-da-fé
1.
(history) a ceremony of the Spanish Inquisition including the pronouncement and execution of sentences passed on sinners or heretics
2.
the burning to death of people condemned as heretics by the Inquisition
Word Origin
C18: from Portuguese, literally: act of the faith
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for auto-da-fe
auto-da-fé
1723, "sentence passed by the Inquisition" (pl. autos-da-fé), from Port., "judicial sentence or act of the faith," especially the public burning of a heretic, from L. actus de fide, lit. "act of faith." Although the Spanish Inquisition is better-known today, there also was one in Portugal.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for auto-da-fe

auto de fe

a public ceremony during which the sentences upon those brought before the Spanish Inquisition were read and after which the sentences were executed by the secular authorities. The first auto-da-fe took place at Sevilla (Seville) in 1481; the last, in Mexico in 1850. The ceremonies, which became increasingly elaborate and spectacular, were normally staged in the city plaza, often in the presence of royalty. They usually comprised a lengthy procession, a solemn mass, an oath of obedience to the Inquisition, a sermon, and the reading of the sentences. The victims were most frequently apostate former Jews and former Muslims, then Alumbrados (followers of a condemned mystical movement) and Protestants, and occasionally those who had been accused of such crimes as bigamy and sorcery. Life imprisonment was the extreme penalty that the inquisitor could impose; the death penalty was imposed and carried out by the civil authorities. Generally, neither punishment nor the handing over of condemned persons to the secular power took place on the occasion of an auto-da-fe.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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