Vieira, Antonio (əntôˈnyŏ vyāˈērə) [key], 1608–97, Portuguese Jesuit orator and missionary. Born in Lisbon, he grew up in Brazil. He was sent by the Jesuits to Portugal to salute the new king, John IV, and there he became court preacher and an ambassador. Returning (1652) to Brazil as a missionary, he championed the exploited natives until he was expelled by the colonists. Back in Portugal he experienced varying fortunes and was imprisoned (1665–67) by the Inquisition. Vieira spent the years 1669–75 in Rome, where he was papal preacher and pled for the persecuted Jews of Portugal. In 1681 he returned to Portugal. His voluminous letters and sermons are couched in a classical although occasionally florid style, and his gracefully flowing phrases are quite vivid. He is now generally considered the foremost prose writer of 17th-century Portugal as well as one of the great preachers of his day.