Aristides de Sousa Mendes do Amaral e Abranches was born on July 19th 1885 in Cabanas de Viriato near Viseu. Son of Maria Angelina Ribeiro de Abranches and the judge José de Sousa Mendes, he graduated in Law along with his twin brother César in the University of Coimbra, by the time he was 22 years-old.
In 1908 he marries his cousin Angelina, who would be the mother of his 14 children. He begins his diplomatic career quite young and in 1910 he becomes consul of Demerara in the British Guiana.
Aristides de Sousa Mendes worked as a consul in the British Guiana, in Zanzibar, in Brazil (Curitiba and Porto Alegre), in the United States (San Francisco and Boston), in Spain (Vigo), in Luxemburg, in Belgium and finally in France (Bordeaux).
He was a family man and a patriarch who has always had his wife and children nearby, providing them university education along with painting, drawing and music classes. One of his sons once said: ”We had a true chamber orchestra in our home and we regularly invited persons to watch our concerts. We played Chopin, Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, and so on.”
On June 24th 1940 Aristides de Sousa Mendes receives a telegram from Salazar, ordering him to come to Lisbon and to explain his disobedience. Not only was Aristides de Sousa Mendes fired, but he was also denied a retirement, after a 30 years-long diplomatic career. His sons were forbidden to attend university and the Sousa Mendes family would soon lose the house Casa do Passal. The Jewish Community of Lisbon provides shelter and food for the family, helping some of his sons to move to the US and Canada. He dies on April 3rd 1954 in misery.