Abstract Research on the past use of animals in medicine, particularly in Brazil, is still scarce. This work aimed to perform a dialogical analysis of information retrieved from historical documents composed in the nineteenth century about the therapeutic use of animal species in Benedictine monasteries in Brazil and their contemporary medicinal applications. Cross-referencing of seven written codices from the nineteenth century Benedictine monasteries infirmaries was performed for taxonomic identification and with therapeutic indications. Animal species provided 13 zootherapeutic resources, which were related to 17 therapeutic indications. Insects, birds and mammals concentrated the greatest number of pharmaceutical actions (37%, 32% and 16% of the therapeutic indications). Medicinal animals used in the past are species commonly applied in the European medicine over centuries. This reveals that the practiced medicine in Benedictine monasteries was influenced by medical concepts from Europe. Also, it shows that still today this European medicine is the basis of therapeutic practice. Such research is essential for a better scientific understanding of the history of medicine, focusing on how different cultures have contributed to the actual therapeutic practice. In this way it is possible to trace a history zootherapy in Brazil, demonstrating the persistence of their use over the time.