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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.
Historical Examples

Princes of the Church and magistrates were present at these auto-da-fe.
History of the Reformation in the Sixteenth Century, Vol 2 J. H. Merle D’Aubign

The auto-da-fe was almost identical with the sermo generalis of the medieval inquisition.
Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 3, Part 1, Slice 1 Various

Nono: the lingering flames of the auto-da-fe are reserved for the Marquis dOrsini!
Wagner, the Wehr-Wolf George W. M. Reynolds

Now, on this occasion, he deftly applied a Japanese blister, which burned as fiercely as an auto-da-fe of the year 1600.
The Physiology of Marriage, Complete Honore de Balzac

Beside, sir, the mob like this Inquisition, and an auto-da-fe is even better sport to them than a bull-fight.
Westward Ho! Charles Kingsley

He had been unable to attend the auto-da-fe at which the heretics were committed to the flames.
Barbara Blomberg, Complete Georg Ebers

It is Kropotkine especially who attributes immense importance to these auto-da-fe.
Anarchism and Socialism George Plechanoff

He must have seen the horizon of the future red with the flames of the auto-da-fe.
The Christian Religion Robert G. Ingersoll

Indeed, there were not wanting many heretic-hating persons who affirmed that an auto-da-fe was got up expressly for the occasion.
The International Monthly, Volume 4, No. 4, November 1, 1851 Various

Not that he is in danger of an auto-da-fe, but he is exposed to continued obloquy and persecution.
The Behavior of Crowds Everett Dean Martin

noun (pl) autos-da-fé
(history) a ceremony of the Spanish Inquisition including the pronouncement and execution of sentences passed on sinners or heretics
the burning to death of people condemned as heretics by the Inquisition

1723, “sentence passed by the Inquisition” (plural autos-da-fé), from Portuguese auto-da-fé “judicial sentence or act of the faith,” especially the public burning of a heretic, from Latin actus de fide, literally “act of faith.” Although the Spanish Inquisition is better-known today, there also was one in Portugal.


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