The name of Gueda Mendes, or Gueda de Celorico, appears many times as a witness or confirmant, in royal and curial documents. He was held in high esteem by the Countess Dona Teresa, and was the most enthusiastic follower of her son – to whom he gave 900 modii in the hope of establishing the kingdom of Portugal.

On becoming king, Afonso Henriques did not forget the support and loyalty of his noble companion when in 1131, he granted him, in a declaration of great esteem, the privilege of the Monastery of Refoios. We can see from the inscription on the base of his famous chalice that in 1152 Dom Gueda offered it to St. Michael as patron saint of the monastery, the foundation of which dated back to the eleventh century.

Made of gilded silver, the chalice was elegant in form, and showed technical skills and knowledge without parallel in Portuguese precious metalwork in the Romanesque era, meaning that it must have been made by an experienced craftsman, familiar with Byzantine art and with a remarkable creative capability. By the mid-twelfth century, good goldsmiths’ workshops had been established in various cities, principally Braga, where this art had the longest tradition. It is a mere hypothesis made twenty-five years ago but which nevertheless remains convincing that there was a foreign workshop in the region from which Dom Gueda ordered the chalice.

This era of economic development and growth and the appreciation of gold for the praise of God, personal adornment and affirmation of social standing, gave rise in the eleventh and twelfth centuries to the production and importation of many different pieces of which today we know very little, swallowed up as they were by the ravages of time.

The chalice of Dom Gueda managed to survive because by the sixteenth century the Monastery of São Miguel had fallen into ruin and so it passed into the possession of the College of São Bento in Coimbra. With the suppression of religious orders in 1834, the chalice became part of the treasury of the cathedral. In 1915 this treasury became part of the collections of the recently founded Machado de Castro Museum.