Padre Himalaya / Manuel António Gomes

09/12/1868 - 21/12/1933


Nationality: Portuguese

Father Himalaya, so-called due to his great height, was a Portuguese pioneer of renewable energy who happily embraced his nickname. Born in Arcos de Valdevez, he never forgot his rural origins. In fact, it was when he was trying to solve the problem of soil fertility that this priest-scientist created his famous solar machine that would come to be known as the Pyreliophorus.


Father Himalaya’s spirit of adventure took him to Paris, the USA, South America and the Far East. He was known far and wide for his ability to inspire investors. In 1904, his great talent was recognised at the International Exposition in St Louis where he won the Grand Prize, two gold medals and one silver medal for his Pyreliophorus. His popularity continued, with invitations to give lectures at scientific institutions and his invention himalaite, a type of gunpowder without smoke, was very successful. These moments of success were however interspersed with frequent periods of despondency due to the disinterest of investors and the failure of some of his inventions.



Father Himalaya’s utopian spirit can be seen in his exploration of radical alternative energy sources, primarily renewable energy sources with a strong sense of social change. In his lectures, Father Himalaya put forward progressive, revolutionary ideas concerning farming, the economy, energy political policy and seismology which, if put into practise, would radically change the face of Portugal. The range of his social intervention extended also to the realm of natural therapies and treatments, which he studied and promoted in Portugal. Being a vegetarian, he defended the position that a good diet could make human beings more peaceful and resolve both economic and public health problems.

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