Born in Alhandra he moved to Lisbon in his youth, and qualified in pharmacy (1864) and medicine (1866). He then practiced as a doctor in the Pena area of Lisbon, specialising in the treatment of tuberculosis. His work was entirely on a secular basis, but he was noted in his life for the care he gave to the poor. In 1897, realising that he has contracted tuberculosis himself and could only expect a painful death, he committed suicide.
In 1904, a statue of him was erected in the Campo dos Mártires da Pátria in Lisbon, outside the main Faculty of Medicine. This statue has become the centre of a quasi-religious cult in which the spirit Dr Sousa Matins is believed able to assist in cures. The foot of the statue is surrounded by marble plaques giving thanks to him for unexpected cures, some calling him "Brother", candles burn all around it and flowers are placed there.
His veneration was never recognized by the Catholic Church but it remains until nowadays.