1684-1696 mission to Warri & Benin
5-2-1675 State Council to King of Portugal
The king of Warri writes to your Highness in his letter of 20 October 1673 that the chapter of the island of São Tomé had neglected to send him priests to preach and teach the Catholic Faith in that kingdom
and that none has been sent for over ten years to take care of those faithful souls, and as a result the faith of many has gone out and they have turned to former worship and adoratin of false gods. That is why Father Friar Sebastião dos Reis Delegado of the Order of St. Francis undertook the labour of going there to administer the sacraments and teach Christian doctrine to the inhabitants, as he must have informed your Highness in greater detail, so as to recommend to you the following:
The Lord Kings who preceeded your Highness, in order to help that poor kingdom against its infidel neighbours, ordered trade to be carried on from the island of São Tomé and for many years this has not been done. Although many ships from that island trade every year on that coast, a ship goes to that kingdom only every three years, already loaded with goods bought in other ports. As a result that kingdom has much declined, as I have often pointed out to your Majesty. I requested Father Friar Sebastião dos Reis to inform your Highness of all this and of the state of that Christianity and kingdom. Since the care of your Highness reaches the most remote parts of the world, it would be just for your Highness to remember those vassals of his and that king who is also his vassal, so that the Catholic Faith may constantly grow.
Regarding what you think of the letter referred to above, the Council is of the opinion that your Highness should be pleased to encharge the bishop of the island of São Tomé to send priests to that kingdom to teach Christian doctrine to its inhabitants, since that would so greatly help that Christianity. Regarding the second point, which is about commerce, since the vassals of your Highness cannot be obliged to go and trade where they have no gain, which is why they cannot trade in Warri, all your Highness should do is to order the governor of São Tomé concerning that trade, and that your Majesty should order him to write to that king that the reason why priests are not going to help in that kingdom is because of the bad treatment that his vassals given them and that such priests should be treated with every respect, and that the Portuguese do not carry on trade there because they do not find there an account of their goods [por naõ acharem aly conta em seus generos, e compra das roupas que deue moderar este neg[oti]o in such a way that ships can go to those ports to trade. And when things are so arranged trade will be carried out as before, and your Highness will keep in mind to assist in what will be of benefit for that kingdom and its preservation, when he receives the good communication from that king which he hopes for. Lisbon, 5 February 1675.
Saluador Correião Franc. Matheus
Ruy Pallez de Menezes Feliciano Dourado
2-6-1684 Francesco da Monteleone to P.F., from Angola
I come humbly prostrate at the feed of your Excellency, humbly making reverence to you and hoping for you from Heaven ever more greatness and true happiness. I also ask your Eminence's most kind goodness please to be merciful to me as a father to his son in this torrid zone, giving me the favour which I humbly asked of the Sacred Congretation in another letter, where I described at length my whole trip from that garden of the world to this other world, since the Reverend Father Prefect wanted all the missionasries to write a report on what they had done and achieved; so I set myself to writing that report. Another recipient of it will be Reverend Father Paolo Francesco de Porto Mauritia, the ex-Prefect, and his companion in what was done here.
My most Eminent Lord, I was ready to leave for Matamba with the new Reverend Father Prefect, the same with whom I had come from Italy, but now he wants me to go to the island of São Tomé to found a mission there and in the kingdoms of Warri and Benin, on the coast of Guinea. I will leave for there on Wednesday, the 7th of this month of June, and will go alone without a companion. If I only leave your Eminence to consider this, it gives me hope that you will send me a companion as new missionaries become available, because now we are few and [the Prefect] does not wish to miss the opportunity that Monsignor, the Bishop of São Tomé offers in his letter, where he asks for at least myself personally and describes the need of those parts and the service and honour to God [our coming would mean].
Therefore I hubly beg your Eminence kindly to concede to me two of my four companions whom I had requested again and again from the Sacred Congregation and were kindly granted to me. I did that and think I am doing this for the service of God. If there were fifty missionaries where I am going, they would still be few to me, because of the number of people and the vastness of the kingdoms. So what can one do? Nevertheless I ask this favour in the guts of Christ.
If I am only asking for my companions, it is for the greater service of God and my spiritual rest, since experience teaches us that when the companions are of differing conditions there result great disturbances and little service of God and even scandals. For example, if there are two and one of them is better than the other in preaching and the laity have more to do with him, he becomes envied and persecuted. Then follow rifts, quarrels and relaxation of the service of God. This is why almost all the missionaries prefer to stay alone, since there are some who, while balanced enough in Italy, here are unendurable, since I think the climate fires the pious bile of Italy. That is a fact, without giving offence to anyone. And since I was informed about them in Italy, I petitioned to have these companions for such a remote place...
Angola, 2 June 1684.
20-7-1684 Francesco da Monteleone to P.F., from São Tomé
... This [mission] is so large that 50 or 200 missionaries would still be few, where there are many kingdoms and three or seven islands without a missionary or priest. The people protest that they are excused since they have no one to minister to them the word of God or any sacrament. Among these kingdoms the main ones are the Catholic kingdom of Warri, which has no priest, and the gentile kingdom of Benin. The latter petitions for a missionary, since that king wishes to subject himself to our holy Faith. When the king is baptized, the whole kingdom will do the same, since they are such imitators of the king that they say that if the king pulled out his eye they would all do the same...
28-4-1687 Francesco da Monteleone to P.F., from São Tomé
... I also thank you for the honour given me by appointing me servant of all the Reverend Father missionaries. This post was so remote from me, like west from east, because I considered myself most useless, most inept and most unworthy of anything...
25-10-1687 Francesco da Monteleone to P.F., from São Tomé
... I will then speak of the coast where there are so many kingdoms without a single priest, especialy Warri, where they are Christian and wait so anxiously for one, then all of Elmina, where some customs of the Faith remain from when the Portuguese were there; they still make the sing of the cross and could easily be converted from their errors. But that requires workers. What can five or six do with more than sixteen kingdoms? ...
6-7-1688 Francesco da Monteleone to P.F., from Sao Tomé, summarized by P.F.
Father Francesco da Monteleone, Capuchin and Prefect of the missions of his district on the island of São Tomé in Africa, writes us on 6 July 1688... He tells that on the coasts of Guinea there is great suffering because there are up to twenty kingdoms for which a priest is required, since there is no priest to cultivate these areas.
He then goes on to say that the king of Warri, a Catholic, whose district is in the mission of São Tomé, has applied for missionaries, since none have been seen there for many years. The Christians that are in Arda have made the same request, as well as those of the island of Anobon, who have been completely abandoned for more than ten years.
15-1-1689 Michelangelo da Rivoli to P.F., from São Tomé
Most Eminent Lords,
The hope I had that our fellow missionaries would soon arrive made me delay for a while writing to your Eminences, thinking that I would be able to inform you of happy beginnings in the mission. But now that I see my hope put off, since I learned the reason why they could not go beyond Lisbon, I send the present letter, which I write with a heart sunk in a sea of sorrow and tears of blood, at seeing so many poor souls abandoned (I am not speaking of the more than twenty gentile kingdoms included in the district of this mission), but especially in the kingdom of Warri, which is Catholic. For many, many years it has not seen a single priest, and its king has many times begged and written to the Father Prefect to send him missionaries. That could not be done and cannot be done until another companion comes...
On 29 September 1689 three boys came here, sent by the king of Warri, so that we would teach them reading and writing and culture, which we are doing. They already understand much, given the short time that they have been here...
4-5-1689 Francesco da Monteleone to P.F., from São Tomé, summarized by P.F.
After making the present summary, another letter of the same Prefect of Sõ Tomé of 4 May 1689 was gone over. He cites many requests for greater help of missionaries and likewise transmits a copy of two letters written to him by the king of Warri, so that this need might be more concretly understood.
The king, whose letters seem to be worth reading in full, writes that there is no priest there to baptize the children, and that the Christians there die without confession, since they have not had the opportunity to confess for eight years and they no longer know God.
His Grace asks for a priest, statues of the Saviour, of St. Anthony, St. Augustine and St. Peter, with some decorations for the church.
He also sent three of his sons to the above-mentioned Prefect to be instructed to read and write and learn Latin.
The Prefect goes on to describe the customs of the king of Warri and of the whole kingdom. They keep many concubines, and the more one has the more he is respected.
If they ever marry, the legitimate wife acts as a slave to the concubines, and among the children the bastards are preferred, such as is the the king who presently rules, although he has two legitimate brothers.
As for inheritance, the elder son succeeds the father, and if he has died then his next brother or closest relative. Since their riches consist in having many women, theyvinherit these, and the children enjoy the concubines and the wives of the father or of the brother, just as the present king, who is young, has all the concubines of his father and of an elder brother who died. Yet [the Prefect} thinks that, since they ask so insistently for a priest, it is possible that they would abandon this abuse.
In that kingdom there are, besides, superstitions and fetishes, and they maintain the synagogue of the devil in secret, since there are some baptized nominal Catholics and most are gentiles. The king is very zealous in this matter, and if he discovers a fetish man he puts him to death without pardon.
16-1-1690 King Lewis of Warri
We, Dom Lewis II, by the grace of God King of Warri.
Since this kingdom of ours, Warri, has always had a shortage of ministers of the Church and we have lived in it like sheep without a shepherd, never having had any effective pastor except an occasional Father coming every few years, since also many years have passed since any has come to administer the most holy sacraments of baptism, confession and other things, and therefore the people is left without the arms of God and without memory of any other benefitsince also we have come to know that in the city of São Tomé there lives a certain Italian Capuchin Father called Francesco da Monteleone, who is very zealous for the worship of God and has done wonders in that region, we have written to him so that, moved by pity for this our miserable kingdom, he might let us share in the same charity which he communicates to others by sending us one of his companions to administer the sacraments, just as in former years the Reverend Father Brother Angelo Maria and other Capuchins did, coming from Angola and going a very good job, so that there still can be found records of our elders who commended them to us for their praiseworthy character.
In this state of affairs in which we have found ourselves for about eight years without sacraments, so that men are without confession, children are born without baptism, as a Son of the Church and for the benefit of this region, we have sent to the city of São Tomé three boys so that he can instruct them in literacy and virtue. But while we were waiting for your paternal reply, he appeared personally in this kingdom, to our infinite consolation. From the first day of his arrival he began exercises of piety with unremitting labour and true doctrine of heaven, not missing a single day. We were all amazed and astounded, since we were seeing something new, which the other Fathers never came up to. We welcomed him as a gift from heaven, so that all of us were overtaken with the fear of looking out for the salvation of souls.
Since we requested this Father to remain with us, he replied that it was necessary for him to return to São Tomé, where he secretly departed to, and added that, since he was expecting other companions that the King of Portugal and Rome were to send, at the first occasion that presented itself for this kingdom, he would assign some of them to us. But for this it would be necessary to have a hospice in which these Fathers, according to the custom of other provinces, could live. Therefore we, with the consent of our Captain Major and the chiefs of our Large Council and of the other nobles and the captains of the people, have decided to construct such a hospice for these Italian Capuchin Fathers, out of gratitude to this Father for the favour he has shown us thus far. For this purpose, we have ordered our Captain Major and the Chiefs to choose with this Father the most suitable site for building the hospice. Since this Father selected St. Anthony Street, which goes right when you come out of our palace, today and forever we eagerly give and donate to these Italian Capuchin Fathers all the land on St. Anthony Street on the right side that is necessary for the building of a hospice and a garden, so that the church joins the front wall of our palace, and the hospital behind the church and its adjoining garden stretch along the same street, if necessary, as far as the street of the Captain Major. All the land that lies along of St. Anthony Street we leave to the discretion of these Fathers. That they may have no impediment, all the buildings existing there can be equivalted to only one.
Today and forever we give full possession of all the said land to this Brother Francesco da Monteleone, Prefect Apostolic of the missions of these parts, and to all his Italian Capuchin successors. We oblige ourselves, at our expense, to construct this church and hospice as fast as possible and to provide for the feeding of these Fathers and others who stay there in their service and for the other things necessary for the building of this hospice. Besides, we promise to treat these fathers with the respect and dignity that their sacred habit requires, maintaining their privileges and obeying their commands. So we promise, swear and confirm. So that this may always clearly and fully stand, we issue this document signed in our name and in that of all the other Chiefs mentioned above, and provided with our seal in our royal chapel at Warri, this 16th day of Januasry 1690.
I, Dom Lewis II, King of Warri, with the other Chiefs who sign below.
24-4-1691 Giuseppe Maria da Busseto
Most Illustrious and Reverend Lord, the Honorable Pron[uncio]
I do not want to fail in my obligation to inform your Most Illustrious and Reverend Lordship as soon as I arrived here of the state of this mission of São Tomé, so that you can then inform the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith.
I and my three companion fathers safely arrived, by God's grace, after two months of sailing from the city of Pernambuco to this city of São Tomé on the 13th of January this year. On the 17th of that month the other four arrived. The joy and festivity that this whole city made was extraordinary, with the richer houses (which however are few) showering us with alms. Yet the festivity did not last long, because in less than eight days three suddenly died, ones who seemed the strongest and more robust, namely, Father Gianuario, a Preacher, Father Giovanni Nicolò, a Preacher, and Friar Rufino Piamontese da Riva. But what surprised us and made us and the whole city fear most was to see (which I never saw in fourteen years in Congo and Angola) that after burying on the 30th of January the first Father, we brought the two others into the church on the morning of the 4th of February and on the same day we buried them both, which was on a Sunday. Later I and three companion Fathers (less than a month after our arrival in this city) became sick unto death; we received the sacraments and two received extreme unction. After three months of sickness we had still not recovered our previous energy. As always, I praise our Lord Jesus Christ for everything.
This island is small and the city is very poor in white people; there could not be more than twenty-five whites or half-whites who are married; even if they reached thirty (I think the number must be greater), of these not eight or ten houses could help us in our greater needs, as three of the principal houses have done, where the Father Prefect has distributed us. He himself is sick and only one religious is well. So, not having anyone to look after him, as we were so much in need, he distributed us among the three houses.
In this city, which has no bishop, if there are two priests, including the Reverend Father Prefect, they are almost too many, since not many people come to our church.
Regarding the three kingdoms assigned to us in the decrees, that is, Benin, Arda and Warri, we can only go to the last one. I myself, with God's favour, will go with two others or four companion Fathers by order of the Father Prefect. This kingdom has been Catholic for many years; only it needs evangelical workers.
The kingdoms of Benin and Arda are all gentile and have never (as the Father Prefect confessed to us) asked for our religious, neither by letter nor by any person sent for this purpose, not even after the Reverend Father Prefect stopped last year at the port of the kingdom of Benin, where the Portuguese go to trade. That is when he went to settle on the way that king wanted our missionaries to assist in his kingdom; he spent three months on that trip going and coming. The kingdom of Arda is the most capital enemy of the Christian name, as everyone admits, including our Father Prefect. Although the people of the kingdom of Benin are eager to see the whites, their aim is clearly only because the Portuguese go there to buy slaves.
This is all I can say now about this (with all sincerity and truth, as I have always done by God's favour). If the blessed God is pleased that we should go and found a mission in the kingdom of Warri, I will not fail, by all the means available to me, to inform your Illustrious and Reverend Lordship of the progress that God is pleased to accomplish by means of these most weak instruments. Finally, while I wish you with all my heart the most perfect happiness from Heaven, I reverently and most humbly kiss the hem of your sacred garments, declaring myself what I was, am and will be, the most humble servant and subject of your Most Illustrious and Reverend Lordship. Friar Giuseppe Maria da Busseto, Capuchin missionary.
São Tomé, 24 April 1691.
24-4-1691 Francesco da Monteleone to P.F., in São Tomé: Why there is no progress
Thanks be to God, eight missionaries arrived here, four on 13 January and the others on the 17th, from Pernambuco in Brasil. Thre became sick as soon as they arrived and on the ninth day passed to a better life. This should not be attributed to the bad climate of this place, where they did not spend much time, but to the sufferings of the trip and the will of God. All the others are sick, but by the grace of our Lord and the most holy Madonna my sickness has lessened enough for me to preach to this people for Lent and to conduct Holy Week and the 40 hours with 20 sermons. The two young preachers died and a lay brother (Father Gianuario da Brescia, Father Giovanni Nicolò and Friar Rufina da Riva). There remain three simple priests and Fathers Bernardino and Giuseppe Maria, both Preachers, but these are useless. One cannot learn the language and the other cannot study it, he says, because he does not want to.
Of these five I thought that four will go to Warri and Benin, where I was occupied, as last year, in writing. I sent you the letter that the king of Warri and his chiefs made for me. Among those who will go is Father Giuseppe Maria da Busseto, Vice-prefect, who himself sought to go. That is not because he is motivated by zeal for souls but to attend with greater liberty to give satisfaction to his body, which I consider (from what I have seen) insatiable. For him there is no fast of the Church, nor does he consider himself obliged to fast. Rather, speaking with the Lord Vicar General of the diocese and another Canon, he said that he understood that in those lands no one is obliged to keep the fasts of the whole year, whether men or women. Father Giuseppe di Venezia answered that if he preached this doctrine he would be considered the best preacher of the world. And I said that whatever he preached, there are women here who are in pain, I mean gravely ill, who will not eat meat in Lent even if they were to die, and they make him scrupulous sto see that they should eat it. I could tell other things, but I omit them out of some respect. It would have been much better if he had not come, both for the reputation we have with these people and for the good of the mission which, being young, is delicate. Time will tell, and I will not be here, for I hope in God that nothing bad will happen in my time. I do not know what those Most Excellent Lordships of mine and your Most Illustrious Lordship will decide to do with me, but I commend myself to your goodness and patronage. I have finished the time of my decree, and the way is open and made easy for the others in this mission. I cannot see myself consoled here any more. I aspire and yearn to see myself among the North Africans, not to flee suffering, but aspiring to greater sufferings. My suffering is all the greater when I see that my youth and my strength are flying away. This sharply prompts me to solicit the goodness of those Most Excellent Lordships of mine and of your Most Illustrious Lordship, as I begged them in two of my letters written to you last year, humbly requesting you to please send me a missionary mandate transferring me to the port of Salée in the kingdom of Morocco... This corresponds to this kingdom of Benin by land. Morocco has many sea ports, but the principal one is Salée, where there are many helpless and desperate slaves. I hope in God not only to give comfort to the Christian slaves but also edification to the North Africans themselves, a good name to our holy Faith and glory to the most high God. The favour that I desire and humbly request will be easy, since it involves no expense of the Sacred Congregation and nothing constituting an impediment; rather it will be convenient and useful both for the exaltation of our holy Faith and for the consolation and confermation of those poor Christian slaves, who are either shaking or even renegades from our holy Faith. How meritorious it is to persuade them away from apostasy I leave to your rational consideration. Yet by every means and every best way I request and hope to receive this favour by the first return mail. Send the letters to Lisbon in care of the Most Illustrious Monsignor, the Nuncio to Portugal, by two ways, in case one gets lost.
I believe that you will send another prefect as soon as possible. I strongly pray those Most Illustrious Lordships of mine not to appoint me, because I am not good any more but to obey. I advise your Most Illustrious Lordships that it would not be good for Father Giuseppe Maria da Busseto to stay here as prefect, because the Lords here regard him as being contentious and wicked, writing to the King against the governors, as they discovered his letters in Angola. Father Bernardino de Laveira is older than he and well accepted and of good manners. Or Father Vincenzo de Costana who was in Angola The Sicilian fathers who went to Angola tell me that they are exemplary religious otherwise this mission may be lost. And let fathers come who are zealous for the honour of God and not for their own comfort. I must add that I have been informed that Fathers Giuseppe da Venasca, of Piemont, and Bonauentura da Brescia, of Rome, have planned to return to Rome on the first ship they find, for no other reason than caprice. In all that, I assure your Most Illustrious Lordship that I have not other motive but good zeal and the naked truth. I commend myself again to your efficacious protection, while I continue praying for your from Heaven every happiness. I make a deepest bow to you and kiss the sacred hem of your garments. The island of São Tomé in the southern Indies of Guinea, 24 August .
I add that Father Giuseppe da Venasca was excused from being sent to the missions, since he has always shown little respect to his superiors, as I must say here, and respects no one. He does not recognize any superior nor can he be said to be doing anything. He is like a new horse that stamps and throws off its burdens, and no one wants him to be with him. Even Father Giuseppe Maria has refused to have him. God shines his light on us.
Since this mission is in greater need than Angola, it would be a great relief if you sent every year wine and flour, as these are sent free to Angola.
I must add that all the missionary Fathers, dead and living, have quarreled with Father Paolo da Verase, the Procurator in Lisbon, to whom they handed over the alms of the Sacred Congregation and other alms that they had for their voyage. His deceased countryman had given him 100 pieces of eight. The Procurator kept these alms and gave him a bag of medals and glass rosaries. They say other things that cannot be repeated in public, and that he is not a procurator of the mission of São Tomé and won't even think about it. It is credible that of all the things I have written he has done none of them; on the contrary it is not important to have this friar as a procurator. As for the things of Father Basilio da Verona, he has sent nothing, and many things of the two friars who went back are missing. May your Most Illustrious and Venerable Lordship look into this. What is worse, they say that he spends recklessly, and counts with his hands in the till and buys things that do not befit our habit or our nation.
25-4-1691 Francesco da Monteleone: His visit to Warri
With the arrival of eight missionaries, four of whom arrived here on 13 January and the other four on the 17th, I was delivered a favor desired from your Excellency, giving us the faculty for myself and the Prefect of Congo to come to one another's aid. That is a great consolation, and I thank you infinitely and kiss the feet of your Excellency and of all those Most Eminent Lorships of mine.
Greetings and happiness to your Excellency! As soon as these friars arrived, three of them fell sick and at the end of nine days of fever they passed to the Lord, to the universal disappointment of all the inhabitants, especially of me who also had a deadly sickness, but by God's treatment I escaped. So six of us remained. Of these four will go to Warri and Benin, and two of us will rest here. I wanted to send two to Benin and two to Warri, but the Vice-Prefect Father Giuseppe, who is going along, says that he does not want to go to Benin, since the king is not baptized. He wants to go to Warri with the letter that the king of Warri and his chiefs wrote to me (as I sent a copy to the Sacred Congregation last year), and I am afraid that if they go first to Warri, the king of Benin will take it badly, because there are not good relations between the two kingdoms and they do not exchange ambassadors, nor can people from Warri go to Great Benin, or any further than two localities far from Binin, one called Oriboó, the other Mabbór. In every other place they carry arms for war. When I wanted to go from Warri to Benin last year, they took me by river to the borders of Benin, where there was a strong-man chief who had revolted against Warri, with the intention that he would bring me from there to Benin. But he was afraid that the king of Warri may have sent our band to cut off his head as he had done to his father, and would not let us get on his boat. But since he knew the judges and auditors of Benin, they immediately sent for canoes to pick me up and take me to Benin, but they could not find any for us because we had come immediately from Warri. So they returned to the house of a woman chief of Warri, whom I baptized with all her people. I have respect for the people of Benin, who are more human, more politic, more faithful and rational than those of Warri. It would be enough for the king to pass the word and they would become Christian and all would embrace the Faith. I have explained to the fathers what they should do, but it does not sound right to Father Giuseppe Maria to take that on, with the obligation of satisfying his mouth. He is quite difficult and besides he does not want to take on anything hard. "How will they hear without a preacher? How will the preach unless they are sent?" How many reasons I brought to my hearers, to the chiefs of Amabbor and Oribboó, Benin gentiles, attacking their errors and abuses, and they all agreed with me and confessed that that was the truth, but they had no one to teach them the things that I said, but only had things of the Devil taught them. So they have knowledge of God and of the Devil, but they lack workers. These I always ask urgently for from your Eminences.
[A paragraph asking to be sent to Salé]
Let me not close without asking for twelve missionary friars, two lay brothers and ten preachers, including the prefect. These lords [of São Tomé] wished to keep these fathers here, because the outlying parishes are really run down, but since I was assigned for Warri and Benin, they are going there first. Also, when your reply comes, I will make a stop on the coast of Arda, also to see where the friars can conveniently go, since all the seamen coming from there tell me that these people are always asking for a priest. Some are baptized; others want to be baptized and live like the Portuguese. But they do not write to them because none of them knows how to write. We will have the obstacle that the whole coast is contaminated with English, Dutch, Denmarkers and Brandenburgers. We need missionary preachers. But if they are like Father Giuseppe Maria da Busseto, they need not come, because all these kingdoms would not be able to feed them...
20-7-1691 Francesco da Monteleone
A few months ago I wrote to your Most Illustrious Lordship, giving you an account of the arrival of eight missionaries and of the three who passed to a better life right after arrival, without exposure to the climate of this land. I also informed you about Father Giuseppe Maria da Busseto who, after coming here, has contradicted me in everything and stirred up the friars against me, so that they do not join me in singing a third part of the rosary on feast days or to recite it on ferial days in the church; nor do they join me in teaching or the way of the cross or other short daily exercises, or at the forty hours or in missions. I wanted to send them as disciples of Christ to the parishes of this diocese, but he has incited all to rebel against going, to annoy me. And because of his persuasions no one has wanted to go, in spite of the appeals of the Vicar General and the pastors of the parishes. When, at the request of the Vicar General, I wanted to give a mission to the people with all these friars, as is done in Italy for nine days, he did the same. Not wishing to put myself in danger, I have let him go and still let him and the rest go as they want; God will deal with them all. So I inform your Most Illustrious Lordship so that you may provide for this mission, since that father has taken over to annihilate it, and he says publicly that no more friars will come here. And he says that he has protested to Rome and will continue to write so that we not be sent and that no more friars will come. Above all he has never stopped calumniating me for every action, however exemplary and from pure zeal for God and souls. Rather, these are jabs at him, since he sees the great esteem all the people have for me and the little they have for him, since the Lord Governor and other leaders are already disgusted with him for his careless speech. These have asked me not to leave him here, but to send him to the coast. But I am afraid to send him to the coast, because I am afraid he may ruin that mission. Meanwhile he has let it be said many times that unless I provide him with wine and wheat and other things he must leave the mission and he even says that we cannot support the missionaries etc. And the other friars have told me that it would be better if he did not go to Warri, because they are sure that he would disgust the king and his chiefs with his eating, that everywhere he only talks about what to eat, and that the support of his mission is reduced to that. So he lacks zeal for God and souls; he has declared that he can only preach a few sermons a year. Let the world be damned; he will not take a step; that is for sure!
With the see vacant, this chapter has appealed to me orally and in writing to provide the island of Principe with missionaries, because they live with many gentile practices, abuses and discords. I proposed that to all the missionaries and they all voted in the affirmative except Father Busseto who voted against, and for the reasons given above I made him understand that it would be good for him to go to the island of Principe where he could live at his satisfaction and could help the mission of the coast at Warri with the abundant rice they produce there and the wine and wheat and other things that foreign ships bring there just as here. He would also prevent an infinite number of sins and offenses to God and loss of souls who live worse than gentiles. Although there is a parish priest there, he lives in public scandal. The chapter, with the see vacant, has constantly appealed to me for this mission, but Father Busseto does not want to go there, and refuses.
I wanted to send four, including Father Busseto (leaving one with me), se that two could go to Benin and two to Warri, but that Father does not want to send any to Benin, since Warri borders on it and the two are almost united and by going to Warri one can always cross over to Benin. So I thought it best to sent three to Warri and keep three here, sending one of the latter for a short time to the island of Principe, which is two degrees distant from here; one can go there in 24 hours or two days or, at most, four days if the wind is down.
And the end of this July the three friars will go to Warri. They are all going with chalices, Mass apparel and an altar. They have for their provisions seven barrels of biscuits, nine of wine, four to a pipa, as the Portuguese call it, which makes two casks and one barrel [di quatro in pipa]. Besides they have two barrels of wheat flour, one of olive oil of the same size, two bulls, three cows, four large pigs, butchered and barreled in salt, chickens such as can be obtained, bars of candy -if they make them they will not be fewer than six or eight, five moy of local wheat, that is cassava and three of salt rock, and other things. Just one of the barrels of wine would last ten years for Mass, but that Father always wants to drink it with his meal, just as up to now they have drunk each a flask a day. Since that is what they always want to do, it is most impossible to find wine. I confess the truth that I find myself in desperation, finding myself superior and seeing their pretentions and carryings on; so it cannot appear that we have come to build up rather than to destroy, or that we have come for souls, not for the body, to tire ourselves out, not to rest.
Because of all this, from the guts of Christ I beg the Sacred Congregation and your Most Illustrious Lordship to be pleased to send quickly another prefect, who will be more satisfactory than me and who will set things right. And if no more friars come, as these promise themselves by their letters and articles, and this mission ends with these friars, to cause me embarrassment, you would be doing a favour to me if you called us all back to Italy, but I believe in the apostolic zeal of the Sacred Congregation and of your Most Illustrious Lordship, that you will want to keep this mission for your own greatness and the glory of God, and you will smooth out the turbulence and difficulties that oppose the beginning of every good work. Remember not to make Father Busseto prefect, for the reasons given in this and my previous letter.
I live under the paternal patronage of your Most Illustrious Lordship, whom I invoke and commend myself to, earnestly begging you to defend me from the calumnies that some of these, touched by Satanic envy, promise themselves, to the prejudice of this mission and of souls. I call God to judge these calumniators. And I kiss the sacred hem and the hands of your Most Illustrious Lordship a thousand times, prostrate at your feet. From the island of São Tomé of Guinea, 10 July 1691.
Your obedient and most obliged son, Friar Francesco da Monteleone, Capuchin and unworthy Prefect of São Tomé.
25-7-1691 Francisco da Monteleone to G. da Busseto: assigns him to Warri and makes him Vice-Prefect
Very Reverend in Christ, Father Friar Giuseppe Maria da Busseto, Capuchin Preacher and Apostolic Misionary: Peace in the Lord.
Father Francisco da Monteleone, of the same Order, Prefect (although missionary) of the mission of the island of São Tomé and the kingdoms of Benin, Arda, Warri and adjacent territory etc.
For the sake of promoting and increasing the Christian religion, motivated by fervent zeal, the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith established this mission of São Tomé and the kingdoms of Benin, Arda and Warri and, relying on the spirit, doctrine and sufficiently proved probity of your paternity, delegated you as an Apostolic Missionary to this mission and declared you prefect after my death (which, if the most high good God pleases, will be after a hundred years). Therefore, since we know that zeal for salvation of souls particularly in the kingdom of Warri consumes you, and that by your apostolic task you desire to water them with the saving rain of the word of God, and for Christ the Lord to give birth there to so many souls redeemed by him by means of the light of your preaching and the courage of your work, we, who also labor in this vineyard (although with unskilled qualifications), by the apostolic authority specially delegated to us by the same Sacred Congregation, we appoint your paternity Missionary Apostolic and Vice-Prefect of the missionaries not only for the kingdom of Warri, but also for the kingdom of Benin. Also I declare you prefect after my death, according to the mind of the same Sacred Congregation, as explained above. As soon as you can conveniently do so, inform me about everything that pertains to the missions, for the sake of my governance, so that I can send what is necessary for the needs of that region in due time. Nevertheless, you may in no way remove the missionaries from residing in that mission, according to the decrees of the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith issued on 15 December and 18 June 1652. By virtue of this letter and its merit of holy obedience, go soonest to take up your apostolic task in the kingdoms of Warri and Benin, together with Reverend Fathers Bernardino à Tauera and Prottasio à Castrezato, with all the faculties and privileges that we have already given you from the Sacred Congregation and Apostolic authority. Besides, as you carry out this task in the future with an ardent spirit and the greatest zeal from love of souls redeemed by the blood of Jesus, may you provide them with the light of the Gospel and salvation by faith. And like the man who received ten coins and gained five talents more, may you enter into joy with your Lord Christ Jesus. May you pray the same for me. Given in our hospice of St. Anthony of Padua on the island of São Tomé, 25 July 1691.
Fr. Francesco, as above.
12-1-1692 Giuseppe Maria da Busseto to P.F., from Warri
Most Eminent Lords,
I am very sorry that this letter does not contain good news. For when we arrived at this kingdom of Warri, myself with Father Bernardino da Tavera and Father Protasio da Brescia, we found Christians that had only the name of a king and a kingdom, since his dominions consist an an island of about three miles in circumference, with a population of about two thousand. It is situated in the river that the Portuguese call Formoso, five days away from the ocean and seven degrees up in the northern hemisphere. So a single priest is more than enough for all this people. Even though they have been Catholic for more than two hundred years, nonetheless almost all of them live like gentiles, almost all of them practicing circumcision. When I showed and proved to them that circumcision is prohibited to Catholics and contrary to our holy Faith, since we cannot serve two lords, and many times I earnestly begged the king and his chiefs both in public and in private to make a rigorous decree against those who circumcize their sons and to prohibit it absolutely, up to now, after four months, I have not even been able to obtain this, not having the secular authority to favour me. Besides, I and my Father companion were not even able to induce them to baptize the adults, since they want to be baptized without any catechism, saying that is their custom something we will not agree to except in extreme cases. Since there are no baptisms, confessions or marriages here, since not a single marriage was celebrated in four months, and by shouting and exhorting we have had only about sixty baptisms and heard fifteen confessions, and during all this time the highest number who attended Mass on the most solemn feasts was about fifty persons, the conclusion seems to be that we are more serving as chaplains for the king and his chiefs than as apostolic missionaries.
Most Eminent Lords, I am convinced that we will be forced to abandon this mission if we have no other station than the one we have had so far, just as Father Angelo Maria Corso (may he be in heaven) abandoned it with his companion. After them no other Capuchins came, but only priests from time to time and not continuously, not wishing to come because of the most great poverty of the place, where its only basic food is a root called inyam, with fruits called bananas and Nicefi [?], and no vegetables. But what will most oblige us to leave the place is the lack of comercial shipping from any nation (except the Portuguese), and these come most rarely; so much so that when we came here it had been two years since a Portuguese ship had come, as your Eminences will see from the enclosed oath, so thay you may rest assured of the pure truth. But if Portuguese ships do not come every year to bring us wine, wheat for the hosts, candles and other things for the service of the church (as it is most apparent to us that they do not reach us), certainly we will not be able to maintain this mission, and so with the blessing of your Eminences we will return to São Tomé.
Lastly, I inform your Eminences that Father Bernardino da Tavera of the Province of Corsica, Preacher, after assisting here for four months without coming to the mission because of sickness, was obliged to return to São Tomé on the same ship which brought us, because of an abscess which, for lack of medicines, became a fistula, making it extremely difficult for him to walk or stand up on his feet. I believe he will therefore have to return to Italy, because he is unable to serve the mission, just as he has been unable so far because of this indisposition of his; it is not just a fistula, but a drainage from the back side (like drops). Also there are no doctors or surgeons in São Tomé. So if this priest did not have this chance to return, he would have had to stay here without any help. The same thing will happen to the otherse, since similar ailments are coming to them.
I have tried to go to the kingdom of Benin, but they did not want to take me. And had I gone, the Devil would have found a means to make the conversion of that kingdom impossible. It is the inviolable law of their kings not to talk ever alone with Europeans, and when the king allows himself to be seen it is only for a short whie, a harquebus' shot away from the European. In the kingdom of Arda there is nothing to be hoped for. The prince of Calabar (whose dominions are even less than that of Warri) is a gentile and has never requested to become a Catholic up to the time that we left São Tomé (which was on 16 August of last year), as I informed your Eminences in another letter. This is as much as I can tell you with pure and sincere truth, as I have always done and will do by the goodness and mercy of God.
Since my term at São Tomé terminates next year, I most humbly beg of your Eminences to have the kindness of allowing me to transfer to the mission of Congo and Angola, since I do not have the courage any more to make so many dangerous voyages, since I am already at the advanced age of fifty-six. However it is true that with this request I do not intend to deviate at all from the pronoucements of your Eminences, whose purple I humbly and reverently kiss, remaining the most humble and obedient subject and servant of your Eminences, Friar Giuseppe Maria da Busseto, Capuchin Missionary and Vice-Prefect.
Warri, 12 January 1692.
20-1-1692 Giuseppe Maria da Busseto
From the letter which I write to the Sacred Congregation for the Proplagation of the Faith (with all sincerity and truth, as the blessed God will make clear to you in his time), your Most Illustrious and Most Reverend Lordship can clearly know the very little stability of this mission of Warri, and even more that of its head which is São Tomé, apart from the kingdoms of Arda, Benin and Warri which are already falling. Therefore I am persuaded that, to avoid wasting money and not to lose [the lives of missionary] subjects without gain, the Sacred Congregation should decide immediately to unite São Tomé with the mission of Congo and Angola. Most Illustrious and Reverend Lord, I have not avoided those places so as to stabilize this mission, but because God does not seem to wish it. It was to do his sacred will and correspond to that of the Sacred Congregation and the desires of your Most Illustrious and Reverend Lordship that I came to this mission. Through it may God be always praised and glorified.
Most Illustrious and Reverend Lord, trusting in your goodness, generosity and very great liberality which I received from you by inheritance since birth, I humbly beg your Lordship to have the goodness of obtaining from the Sacred Congregation permission for me to transfer to the mission of Congo and Angola, a favour I humbly ask and hope to obtain throug the most efficacious protection of your Most Illustrious Lordship, from whom favours flow in abundance. While I reverently kiss your sacred vestments, I remain always your most humble servant and subject, Friar Giuseppe Maria da Busseto, Cappuchin Missionary and Vice-Prefect.
Warri, 20 January 1692.
We, the undersigned, affirm by oath "on the word of a priest" that it is the pure and simple truth, that when we reached here (on the 12th of last year) there had been two full years since no Portuguese ship had come and no others besides. Warri, 20 January 1692.
Friar Giuseppe Maria da Busseto, Capuchino Missionary et Vice-Prefect.
Friar Bernardino da Travera, unworthy Capuchin Missionary, I affirm as above.
Fra Protasio da Brescia, I affirm as above.
29-3-1692 Francesco da Monteleone
... Having written by the last ship what has happened in the mission and about the missionaries, I do not repeat anything. No I must inform you that while you were pleased to leave it to my choice, as above, I have decided not to go to Angola. But Father Giuseppe Maria da Busseto has been appointed [to Angola], and this will make him very happy, as your Eminences know, since he has always longed for Angola and can say nothing but "This is my rest for ever and ever!" May your Eminences live a thousand years for such consolation! Now it will be easy to send here a new prefect, since my decree is expiring, and for the good of this mission I will try to spend perhaps two years more visiting the coast (not without most serious dangers to my life) and seeing the kings and the kingdoms that appeal to me to go ther, such as the king of Calabar, the king of Acharaà, the king of Pharauú, the king of Poppoós and of Judahá. Since these Ethiopians are fickle, I want to see them and test them, so that I can be guided on whether to send missionaries there and send a report to your Eminences for your planning. The king of Calabar wrote to me through a ship captain. The king of Pharahu sent me his baton, and the king of Poppoós sent me a kind of a basket curiously woven from palm branches because he does not know how to write in letters, [explaining] that they desire me and have provided me with everything regarding lodging and will embrace the teaching that I will preach to them! Therefore I wrote urgently to Angola asking for two missionary fathers to come whom I am expecting any day. When they come, I will leave them in this hospice and I will go with Father Bonaventura da Brescia to those kingdoms.
I have also written urgently to Father Giuseppe Maria da Busseto, by way of Calabar, to come here quickly as best he can by a Dutch or English ship, which always go there, and my letters have been sent back to me, because they could not reach him. I do not know if he is alive or dead, because the boat that brought him has not yet returned and it is expected any day. The owners of the boat gave the captain only three months, but the trading at Benin and Warri takes many months, in contrast to other places on the Guinea coast, where they do damage and rob. But in Benin it is the custom to give comercial goods on credit for six months; although they are gentiles, they are faithful and on time, more than the Catholics in these parts. So I do not know how to make my letter reach the Father; for the moment there is no boat going until July or August, but I will do what I can. When he comes he can go to Angola, at least by way of Brasil to Bahia, since there are many ships from here to Bahia, and then from Bahia to Angola. He wanted to go to Warri, as I wrote in my other letter, and I have tried to pleas all according to their inclination...
24-5-1692 Francesco da Monteleone
...About Father Giuseppe Maria da Busseto I cannot write you anything certain, because I know nothing of him and his companions, since the boat that took them to Warri and Benin has not yet returned. The trade there takes a long time, since it consists of slaves, ebony, and diverse cloths made of cotton wool. They are not ready made, but they take the material on credit and take five our six months to make cloths out of it. From the kingdom of Benin and other kingdoms three hundred miles or more inland they faithfully (even though gentile and unknown) carry the cloths to the capten of the boat. In this way they delay the ships in returning from Benin and Warri. It is not like that in other kingdoms, where the people destroy and rob.
Now a ship is being readied for those places, which I will urgently make use of to bring that Father and to sent some aid to the others, which God will provide us. As soon as I received the decree, I wrote to Father Busseto and his companions that he should come right away by another port. I sent the letter to the king of Calabar, who returned it to me, since one cannot go without danger from his kingdom to Warri because of the wars with the Ihoo [Igbo] nation. If those letters had gotten through, the Father would have been here, leaving from other ports on the coast on an English or Dutch ship, such as always go there from the coast of Elmina. From that coast to here there are also always Portuguese and English ships...
If I had friars to leave in this hospice, I would have gone to visit the king of Calabar, who has written to me, that of Farahú, who has sent me his baton of [ebony - auolio], since he cannot write, asking me to visit him, and the kings of Great Popos, of Alcharaá and Widah who have also sent me a document. Therefore I have requested two missionary fathers from Angola. Since they have not come with the first friars who are yet to come to me, I want to carry out that voyage to these kingdoms, on which I intend to spend a year, if I receive no contrary order...
I want to send with this a copy of the letters of the king of Farhu and the king of Calabar. May the blessed God enlighten and direct everything to his greater glory. For if these kingdoms accept the faith, it is a great glory of God; they are very far from Calabar, where I will spend some time when the above-mentioned document of approval or decree, which I hope for, comes. May your Eminence believe that I do not lack good will, knowledge of God, love and fear. With your decree in my hands, I will be able to choose what is best...
22-8-1692 King Domingos II of Warri to Francesco da Monteleone
Copy of the letter that the king of Warri wrote to the Prefect, Father Francesco da Monteleone through Father Protasio da Brescia. The king said: To the Very Reverend Father Prefect, Friar Francesco da Monteleone, by the grace of God, King of Warri:
Lord Father Prefect: I received a letter from your Paternity written on the 15th of August last year, which came with the Missionary Reverend Fathers to my infinite pleasure and that of my chiefs. I thank God much for the goodness and care with which he came to my help by means of your Paternity, such a great servant of God. But, since there is no perfect joy in this life, my misfortune and that of my vassals returned by my being deprived of the best things we had through the assistence of these Reverend Fathers. I have always given them proper respect, helping them as well as the limitations of this land allow, as your Paternity knows. I know this has not been up to their satisfaction and to what they deserve. In any case, your Paternity should know that things are in such a state that everyone is suffering a little, since the Ijaw prevent me from going to Benin, and that my vassals do not court its great powers is a great disadvantage. As I said above to your Paternity, there is no perfect joy in this life. So the little fortune that I now enjoyed has gone with the death of two religious servants of God, Father Friar Giuseppe Maria and Father Friar Bernardino, whose death I am much pained, and likewise I am pained at the absence of Father Protasio who found himself without a companion. Since my entreaties and persuasions could not turn him from his intention, and I told him that I would advise your Paternity and himself to send a companion to join him at the first opportunity and as soon as possible, he answered that he would go personally to look for one, since he would not remain alone, since this was against his conscience.
And since in this matter I have no other means than prayers and humility, I have made use of these as much as I could, but God was pleased to grant it. Now, with the same means, I request of your Paternity as my spiritual Father, the father of this mission, as so good a pastor not to neglect these sheep of yours. Even though all might go astray without hearing the whistles of their good pastor, he did not for this reason refuse to look for one of them that was lost, leaving the the ninety-nine. Although your Paternity will make these lamentations over us, all know as well as your Paternity what little help we have had from Fathers for so many years. Since there were no workers to cultivate this vineyard, it necessarily must be full of stains, but with continuous work it will always give some fruit. Your Reverend Paternity promised me to return, if God wills, and your Paternity seems sure that they can, [even] with all the fatigue and work but in the service of God and in managing the land. The hospice is almost finished, made according to our architecture as your Paternity approved, and the church will be begun after the plan that your Paternity left with me. May God be pleased to bring you back so that you may find it finished and so praise the same Lord. May he guard your Paternity, as I desire.
Warri, 22 August 1692, the spiritual son of your Paternity, King Dom Domingos II.
I, Friar Francesco, mentioned above, received this letter when Father Protasio came at the end of Deceber 1692, who came from Warri and Ihò. It was faithfully and literally copied into Italian, as I swear, and to this I sign, in São Tomé of Guinea, 4 April 1693. Father Francesco da Monteleone, Capuchin Missionary Apostolic, Prefect.
28-8-1692 Francesco da Monteleone
I am daily waiting for Father Giuseppe Maria da Busseto to go to Angola. If he arrives he will find ready transport to Angola on a fartana which will depart at the beginning of October. That will leave four of us in these missions: myself and Father Bonaventura da Brescia here, and Father Bernardino da Tavera and Father Protasio da Brescia in Warri. Father Giuseppe da Venasca of Piedmont has turned out as his behaviour promised and he gave indication before leaving Italy, as I informed your Eminence. For no reason he left his mission on the island of Principe, whose Governor and cabinet write me that, when a ship of French pirates and sea robbers stopped at that port, he got on to go to the island of Martinique in the West Indies, where that ship goes to sell the goods stolen from different ships. On this coast it captured a Spanish ship full of pieces of eight and killed all the crew. It captured another Dutch one, and an English one full of gold and much merchandise and slaves. It robbed a Portuguese frigate that was coming here loaded with foodstuffs and merchandize, and made it go for the coast where it lost everything and many men died. After that it went to the island of Principe for refreshment, and with no scruple that Father Giuseppe di Venasca of Piedmont went aboard, leaving the island scandalized by such a departure, as well as this island of Sao Tomé when it got to know. All had held him in high respect and built for the friars a very comfortable and neat hospice with four cells in an upstairs dormatory attached to the church of the miraculous St. Anthony. He abandoned it so abruptly, yet there is worse. He asked a judge of the cabinet swear that on that island there are not the things necessary for a mission and no more missionaries are necessary, since they have indigenous priests. The judge did not want to make this oath, since it was not true or fitting. Therefore Father Giuseppe mistreated the judge, insulting him that he was made a judge irregularly and that to acquire the office he had paid an ounce of gold. He said these and other bad words, so that the judge, to avoid contending with a religious, agreed to make the oath for him. Besides, he made the cabinet, that is, the senate, gather in council. When they had gathered he entered and said, "I am going aboard to go to Lisbon and complain of the Governor and the rest of you." And without saying another word, he discourteously left them and went straight on board, leaving everyone scandalized at his actions. Nevertheless he left in that hospice everything I had given him and brought from here to that mission, without taking anything away with him. He left on 20 July 1692...
Here there are no monasteries apart from our hospice, although last year four Descalced Augustinians arrived on this island, sent by the king of Portugal to serve the Governor and the chapter, who asked them to teach moral and other subjects and supplied them everything they needed. The chapter and the community gave them the church of the hospital with responsibility for the all the spiritual affairs of this chaplaincy. They stayed there many months abiding by the written terms. Then, wishing to take more than they were given and to escape the jurisdiction of the chapter, everyone revolted, the chapter and the people, and drove them out. Now they are in one house. They had selected several sites for another church outside their dwelling, but the chapter did not agree. They are and have been in a bad condition, not being able to exercise any apostolate, and no boy goes to them to be taught. They wanted to return to Lisbon, but the Governor held them back. They wrote to the King and their superiors and, while awaiting an answer, their Commissar spent the last months at Warri and Benin to get slaves. This is the missions of the Portuguese Fathers, [to serve] their relatives or their other monasteries. But when my Capuchin companions arrived, as soon as they got off the ship the whole populace ran out to receive them as the Messiah, accompanying them with jublilation to the hospice and giving them every sort of gift and present. But when those Descalced Augustinian Fathers arrived, everyone kept off, both ecclesiastics and lay; only myself and my companion welcomed them, since they had no other place to lodge. They treated me the same way the first time I arrived, but afterwards they changed. I wanted to say this so that you can know the esteem in which they hold us and with greater conviction now...
29-9-1692 Francesco da Monteleone
... Not to fail in my duty, I informed you by another letter some days ago how Father Giuseppe da Venasca of Piedmont abandoned his mission on the island of Principe where he was assigned at the request of this Reverend Chapter (with the See vacant) for the great need of that people, where they live with much discord and abuses. Yet they received Father Giuseppe like an angel from heaven and immediately undertook to build him quickly a very comfortable hospice for four friars. When that was finished, two French pirat ships stopped there which had robbed many ships. He got onto one of them that was going to the island of Martinique in the West Indies. Before departing he had a false oath sworn before [by - de] a secular judge. When the latter did not want to do it, the Father mistreated and insulted him, telling him that he was not a good judge and that he had paid an ounce of gold to be made judge. The judge said he finally agreed because of pressure, not wishing to contend with a religious. The people of that island, and even more so on this island, were left scandalized by such a departure, since he left without permission as an apostate. When the laity told him that he could not depart, he said that he knew what he was doing. Besides, before departing, he had the senate assemble or gather and he told them that he was leaving to go to Lisbon and complain about that senate and the governor. Without wasting words, may your Eminences see whether we realize that if you do not demonstrate an attitude that is favorable to the missions [vedano le loro EE. se ci sapiamo che se di ciò non fanno sentim[en]to che sia patenti alle missioni??], every missionary will want to do likewise. That will create the damage of losing respect for the prefect, since they are not obliged to obey in matters of the rule, but to their own little reasons. About this, he and another said that the Sacred Congregation has lifted the assignment [anturila??] made to him. Therefore it is desirable and necessary to have an express declaration, with regular sanctions on anyone who renounces obedience to the prefect, and that should be in the permanent statutes of the missions.
Because of Father Angelo Francesco of Milan, Vice-Prefect of Angola, I have not yet managed to go to the kingdoms of Calabar and Benin. These continually appeal to me to go there, saying that they will immediately do what I want of them, that they want to know which is the true God, Jesus Mary of Calabar or Holy Mary of São Tomé. They call their idols Jesus Mary. They [argue??] no less than the Athenians with Paul at Areopagus. [..] I regret that the above-mentioned Vice-Prefect did not agree to send two missionaries, [not] for this mission, but for new missions according to the order and faculties of my [mandate]...
26-3-1693 Francesco da Monteleone
Most Illustristrious and Eminent Lord, my most Eminent Prefect
Just a few days ago I received a dearest letter from your Most Illustrious Holiness, dated 19 January 1629, in which you acknowledge receiving several of my letters...
Your Most Illustrious Holiness also told me that I should not abandon this mission of S. Thomé, while Fr. Giuseppe Maria de Busseto had to go to Lisbon, and that I should appoint a vice-Prefect, someone that I judge more efficacious, since you do not wish to continue with the one who at present is appointed by the Father Secretary, until there is another order by the Sacred Congregation, which I should inform of the decision I have taken. I am doing so with this letter. He is none other than the one I wrote of in my other letters to your Most Illustrious Holiness and to the Sacred Congregation a year ago. I am certain that by now these letters have been received. There they will see that I am not going to Congo, but anxiously hope for brothers to bring me to Benin, where that majestic King has sent for me with expressive words, saying that he and all his kingdom are awaiting my order ("May God confirm what he has wrought"). I wish to see the end. The vice-Prefect of Congo is the reason why I have not gone up till now. The conversion of that King is of the greatest consequence, more than that of any number of kings on this coast. All this is while I have been waiting for permission to move to Lisbon, as I have written in my previous letters. I again confirm my request and urge that my going to Lisbon is very necessary for treating most necessary matters concerning this mission. One (1) is that [the King] should send an order to the officials here of the Royal establishment that, when missionary Fathers arrive here and do not find any quick transport to Benin, they should at their own expense provide them with a ship to take them, since for many missionaries to stay her a long time when they should be going to their missions is a cause of many disturbances and unrest, as happened in the past. (2) He should also send an order to establish Portuguese trading posts in the kingdoms where missions are to be established, such as at Benin, Calabar and Bonney. (3) He should restore the statutes of this city of S. Tomé, without which people are destroying themselves every day. Everyone clamors for this, as they have told me many times, and they wanted to make me an ambassador to the King, were it not for the fact that they would be deprived of me. Besides I would not do it with the efficacy and energy which I would show for the good of this mission and such a hungry land.
But I will not stay here. Nevertheless I think my going to Lisbon is necessary to discuss with the King of Portugal and his counsellors, with whom I have a good relationship. As for Fr. Paolo di Verace, I will give him the letters that this Senate and Chapter wrote, as I told you in other letters to your Most Illustrious Holiness. That Sacred Congregation and the same Fr. Paolo wrote me last year that the King espressly ordered this Father to write to Livorno with a strong recommendation to send more brothers than in the past,both for S. Tomé and for Angola, as well as ten for Maragnano. And he says with respect to me: "I renounce Satan and all his works and all his pomps."———————
By this letter I offer advice to the Sacred Congregation and to your Holiness, whom I ask to let them see this letter, [letting them know that] this mission is falling because of lack of friars. From the island of Principe Fr. Giuseppe da Venasia Piedmontese left, as I have already written to you. From Warri Fr. Protasio da Brescia has left because Fr. Bernardino da Corsica and Fr. Giuseppe Maria de Busseto have died. Because of their old age, as well as my own, I did not want them to go there, but they asked to fulfill [that task] not so much for the service of God, but went there for love of the beautiful cloth made there of straw and bamboo. As soon as they arrived there, as Fr. Protasio relates, they set about buying cloth, paying for it from the price of the things I gave them for their living, and of rosaries and devotions. This is a great scandal and an impediment to the service of God and of conversions, because they make no difference between apostolic ministry and secular business. And in this way they do not allow free maintenance to be sent to them, since they openly deal in cloth together with other traders, to the amazement and disgust of the Portuguese themselves. They have their mouth open to talk evil just as well as good, and if in this matter the missionaries act openly, we will lose these missions. And so in complaint I ask the Sacred Congregation to issue the appropriate remedy. I will try my best to stop anyone from giving anything to get cloth, and not to accept it in any why while he is at the mission. When I went to Warri and Benin, I went unprovided with any sort of provision except for a Mass box, and I did not lack anything for my living. I did not accept any cloth or any more precious thing, but my daily feeding, which was very weak and limited. And when I left, I did not bring anything from there to here; I left the place fearing God. This is in spite of the fact that before I went to Warri and even now, that King and his nobles sent me different packages which I have not even opened, and I await the occasion to send them to your Highest Holiness, since they are beautiful for a door curtains or bed curtains. Fr. Protasion has brought me the cloths that the deceased Fathers acquired, and I think I will make a bonfire of them as an example for others and to wake them up.
The King of Warri, according to Fr. Protasio and everyone, put heavy pressure on Fr. Protasio not to leave, prostrating before his feet together with all his nobles and begging him through the captain and the ship crew. He wrote me a strong letter, of which I will send you a copy later. The community of the island of Principe and other individuals have continually written to me to send them a missionary, and I am thinking of soon sending them Fr. Protasio —until the arrival of other missionaries, three or two of whom I will take with me to Benin, and two will stay here. A few months ago I sent my companion, Fr. Bonaventura da Brescia to Calabar and Benin to see the place and get an impression of the people. He was received in both plaes with the greatest pleasure, and they right away arranged to provide him with a houe, asking him to stay with them, agreeing to abandon their idolatry and do what he commanded. He left because he could not stay alone. He ays that in Calabar there is no suitable place to make a hospice, because it is a trading center, small and surrounded by water. Most of the people on the mainland are at least two days away. But the residence and hospice of the missionaries should not be located at the trading center, but on the mainland where there is a heavy population and the residince of the chief king, as is Warri and Great Benin. It is sufficient that they wish to embrace the Faith and abaonon idolatry. Therefore a house could be made at the entrance of the river in a place called Poco. But in Benin there is a fine location near the sea, where everyone with the King offer to build a house immediately on any plot we choose. When the ship was to return here, the King and all his nobles went aboard to persuade the Father to remain with them, regretting that he should leave and not stay, until, after the ship crew intervened, not allowing him to go back, the King went ashore very disappointed. They are expecting other fathers, and I recommend to your Holiness and to the Sacred Congregation to give priority to sending more missionaries, since the four they promise are far too few. To begin to send them and then abandon them is the same as nothing. Therefore it is necessary always to send missionaries in abundance, two or four every year if possible.
In conclusion, I say that a ship is ready to leave for Angola, and I will send my letter with it. Since the Vice-Prefect does not wish to continue in office, I recommend Fr. Luca Ciciliano for the office, and in his absence the Father Vicar Maria de Firenza will take his place. Both of them are worthy, and could be confirmed as Prefects, although Fr. Vicenzo will find it difficult to accept the job. When the friars come here, I will leave as Vice-Prefect the one I regard the most satisfactory to all. I finish by entrusting myself to your secure protection, and wish heaven to grant you every happiness and greatness. I prostrate before your feet. From the island of S. Thomé in Guinea, 26 March 1693.
Your Eminence's obedient son, Friar Francesco da Monteleone, Capuchin Prefect.
4-4-1693 Francesco da Monteleone
... I inform you, as I also wrote in my letter mentioned above, that Father Giuseppe Maria da Busseto died in Warri last August, about a year after his arrival in that place, and that Father Bernardion de Tavera of Corsica died in the River of Benin in the May following his arrival in Warri, which was on the Nativity of the Most Holy Madonna, from where he departed on the same boat that brought him to come back to São Tomé and then return to Italy, after making a good buy of cloths worked with the durable straw of that kingdom. That made him go there without the merit of obedience, which I did not want, and God did not want him to enjoy it. So after being in Warri two months (says Father Protasio da Brescia, his companion), no longer to do any exercise of a missionary, but to buy cloths from the king and other chiefs with the tobacco that I gave him and devotional articles, he left, as I said above, for the land of Benin, where the captain of the ship made his trade with his people. Afterwards they left, trying three times up to the month of May to come here, and all three times they could not come out of the river mouth into the sea. There he underwent terrible pains to go out, and he died of them with many acts of contrition and tears, which moved all on the ship to cry as well. Afterwards they returned to Warri, staying there until the month of September, when they left for here. Since Father Giuseppe Maria had died in August, Father Protasio also left, leaving that mission entirely abandoned. The king and all the chiefs tried every means to persuade him to stay, and wrote me a letter, a copy of which I send you with this...
16-5-1693 Francesco da Monteleone, reporting Lorenzo Pinto
Friar Francesco da Monteleone, Capuchin Preacher and Prefect of the Missione of S. Thomé and the coast of Guinea, humbly begs the Sacred Congregation kindly to declare and grant the following most necessary matters in these parts:
1. Whether the privilege of missionaries "to absolve and dispense from any irregularities except for those coming from bigamy etc." includes dispensing from irregularities from a defect in birth, that is, those born illegitimately, sons of priests, married or incestuous men, many of whom are ordained unduely.
2. I beg the Sacred Congregation kindly to grant missionaries, the favor of a special faculty to dispense and rehabilitate such illegimate men so that they can receive sacred orders and be promoted to have and exercise any ecclesiastical benefice, because of the need for priests and lack of legitimate candidates.
3. I beg the Sacred Congregation and His Holiness kindly to grant missionaries the power of dispensing those who are waiting for ordination after the death of the bishop, because, from the year of his death and the vacancy of the See, the Chapter could not grant dimissorial letters, according to the Council of Trent. This is to be done with the approval of the same Chapter and its dimissoral letters, because of the lack of priests.
4. If it is possible, send here the bull of Pope Innocent on bishops, so that it can be read to them and so as to restrain them from real simony which they commit in orders etc.
5. Whether the Sacred Congregation has dispensed the missionaries of their vow of obedience, as some wickedly understand, and if the authority of the Prefect is limited by the same Congregation in just and regular matters, so that the subject is not obliged to obey regularly nor can the Prefect impose obedience and a religious style of life on rebellious and rash subjects?
6.I beg a suitable remedy to uproot the pagan abuse that the leaders of confraterities practice in these parts of setting up palm shelters at their houses eight or fifteen days before feast days. There they celebrate not by day, but all the nights from the beginning of the evening until morning. Crowds of black men and women, free and captive go there, wild youth with dishonorable public women they call "Creols", who are no different than (to speak reverently) the most disgraceful harlots of the world. They spend the whole nights licentiously fornicating, dancing, drinking and getting drunk, with infinite offences against God and enormous sins. The principal, most outrageous and rebellious of these are the members of the Confraternity of the Rosary, who consider themselves protectors of those dishonorable public women. Although the Prefect of S. Tomé has always fought against this, coming out against it at night, reprehending it and scourging himself with chains of iron, that God may make an exemplary punishment of them. More seriously, during the time of 40 Hours of Holy Week, he had them promise by the most serious oath not to do it, making them publicly confess by their own mouth during the time of the sermon that they recognize that those feasts are very offensive to God and are the cause of many sins and fornications which they commit in their houses at such times, as they make their houses shops for public fornication. They have to promise not to do it any more. After all that, when the time of the feast day comes near they petition the Chapter to give them permission. The Chapter agrees that they can make a moderate feast, but they are always the same, immoderate, reckless and scandolous. There is no ignorance, but malice everywhere. The same canons and the boys who have hardly reached the age of reason confess and say that in S. Thomé there are no dances without the uncleanness of sin; and they say that they give permission to dance, not to sin. Their dances are not like those of Italy or elsewhere, but men and women are all attached to one another an positioned like fish in a barrel, and at time a masquerade goes in the middle touching the private parts of the women, holding on to their nakedness, since they only have on a wrapper, tied to leave the front open. That is how they begin the night, and that is how they end it. There is much to say here, but I cannot say all. The Prefect of the missionaries has always been on the watch and reinvented, with zeal for the honor of God, rebukes, sermons horrible penances day and night, and even apostolic letters to the Chapter, whose members always show themselves respectful and reverent, because they have seen the pure zeal o God. But their relationship with these women is a big factor. When all evil is avoided out of respect for the Prefect and we are enjoying perfect peace, at the feast of the Rosary, which they hold in August and October, everything breaks out again. The remedy would be to disolve completely the Confraternity of the Rosary and excommunicate the Ordinary who permits it or does not prohibit it, along with those who hold such a feast in their houses or in the church.
For all the above, we desire your agreement, and I humbly pray Monsignor the Secretary of Propaganda kindly to appoint the procurator. Let him petition in every best way, and have them provide this for the service and honor of God. [And may God grant you] happiness and greatness.
4-4-1693 Francesco da Monteleone: The death of Giuseppe Busseto
I inform you, as I also wrote in the letter referred to above, that Fr. Giuseppe Maria da Bosseto died in Warri last August, about a year after arriving there. Father Bernardino de Tavera di Corsica died on the River of Benin the following May, a month after his arrival in Warri, which was on the Nativity of the Most Holy Madonna. He left on the same ship that brought him, intending to come to S. Thomé and then return to Italy, having made a good gain of cloth woven from the tough straw of those kingdoms. This motivated him to go there, without the merit of obedience, which I did not want and God did not want him to enjoy. So, having spent two months (according to Fr. Protasio da Brescia, his companion), [dying] not in Warri, where he did not do one act of missionary exercise, but was buying cloth from the King and other nobles in exchange for the tobacco and devotional article which I gave him. He departed, as I said, in the land of Benin, where the captain of the ship was trading with the people. They tried three times to leave for here, up to the month of May, but each time they could not get out of the river mouth into the sea. He was seized with terrible pains to get out, and died from them with many acts of contrition and tears, which brought everyone on the ship to a state of pity and tears. Then they returned to Warri, staying there until September, when they came back here. Since Fr. Giuseppe Maria died in August, Fr. Protasio departed, leaving that mission in fact abandoned. The King and all the nobles exerted every pressure, wanting him to stay. And they wrote me a letter, a copy of which I intend to send along with this...
16-5-1693 Francesco da Monteleone, reporting Lorenzo Pinto
I, Lorenzo Pinto, certify that when I went to the kingdom of Warri to bring the missionary Fathers, I went from there to the kingdom of Benin to carry on my trade. I carried to the king of that kingdom a letter from Reverend Father brother Francesco da Monteleone, Prefect of this mission, from the island of São Tomé, together with a sealed basket in which he sent some interesting presents. When I gave these to the King, he received them with great respect, not because I had brought very much, but because they were sent by the Reverend Prefect. He commissioned me to give him some bracelets of carved ebony, which are considered precious there. In reply, I said that the Prefect was not looking for gifts from the King, and would not accept even his whole kingdom, but what he looked for was the King's soul and the souls of all in his kingdom, to take them to God and teach them the right way for their salvation. I explained this point as well to the chiefs, as best I could, so that I could be understood by them. They sent my message immediately to the King by means of the same ambassadors who had brought the bracelets and the words of thanks; the ambassadors were to speak to the King and the highest chiefs of his court.
The King sent a reply that he had understood what the Reverend Father wanted, and that they were all waiting for him to come, so that the King could see him and speak to him face to face. Therefore they gave him five months, from my return to São Tomé, when they would give him a house in his court, where he could stay, and they would carry out all that he said. This reply was given in the presence of witnesses who were lesser chiefs. The King has assigned a place in the part of town where the whites come to trade; whatever these [chiefs] do is considered coming from the King, in all matters that the King to treat with the whites. But he speaks of it with them [mani[ma non/ne??] parlare con loro] and he takes great care that they receive no harm. If any of his people cause any trouble to the whites or even think of doing so, the King punishes him severely. So the King gave this answer in their presence, and it was accepted by the Reverend Father prefect. I sent for my men on the ship to be present and witness this deed. They all came and heard everything. The written deed was signed by my own hand and the names of all present were added. We all swore by the holy Gospels that it all was the truth without any alteration or guesswork. Given at São Tomé on 28 March 1693 Captain Lorenzo Pinto.
I attest that I was with this captain on that journey: Giouanni de Souza da Ponte The Contramestre Diego Fernandez Tristano, the Piloto Roque vas?? Perera, Antonio Rodriguez, Manoel Fernando Afonso, André Pinto, Bernando de Silua.
I, Brother Francesco da Monteleone, Capuchin and Prefect Apostolic, translated the above literally into Italian from the original certificate drawn up by Captain Lorenzo Pinto and signed by his seamen. I refer to the original that I have kept. To verify it further, I certify by my word as a priest together with my companion, the Preacher, Brother Bonaventura da Brescia, Priest and Missionary Apostolic, as witness. In testimony of the truth we sign our names below at São Thomé, 16 May 1693.
Brother Francesco da Monteleone, Capuchin.
16-5-1693 Bonaventura da Brescia
I Brother Bonaventura da Brescia, a Capuchin Missionary Apostolic, confirm the above.
I add that the above-mentioned captain, on another trip was in Benin, in the great city where the King lives. He says that it is larger than Lisbon, marvelously well situated, with all the streets straight everywhere and as long as you can see. It has more large palaces than Lisbon, especially the palace of the King, which is large and decorated with very rich designs and superb columns. The nobles ride on horses with a fine blanket. It is a rich mercantile city where everything moves orderly. There is never a theft. They live securely without doors on the houses. Where I have been in Oribo and Mabbor they have an outside [curtain] hanging over the door. The artisans are located on their different streets, and he tells me that on one street, from one end to the other, there are 120 goldsmiths who always busy, that is, there are 126 shops or houses of goldsmiths. I hope by God to give a better account when I see it, and I pray God to open the King by his grace so that he will convert as he seems to show, since this would be a great miracle and an infinite good for souls. His one word is enough to have all at once embrace the Holy Faith, since he is a great emperor, and there is no king in all Africa who is so regarded, revered and obeyed as the King of Benin. But without workers the vinyard cannot be cultivated. I want brothers etc.
Brother ... Capuchin
Postscript to the same
I inform your Most Illustrious Holiness that Fr. Giuseppe da Venasia, who left his mission by his own authority, is coming against me armed to kill me, as he wrote to his companions after leaving. And among the writings that he left in his box I found a piece of a letter which he wrote to Rome, saying things that horrify me [che io mi sturdisco] for their malice and falsity, turning medicine into poison, good into evil, truth into falsehood, sweetness into bitterness. "Woe to you who call evil good and good evil." I have put everything at the feet and in the wounds of Jesus Christ where I have always found consolation. He will receive the payment he merits, and I pray to God that he may not be the slave of all and that he may not jump from his religious life as he did from his mission. I commend myself to God and then to the secure patronage of your Most Illustrious Holiness. May heaven always give you happiness. Prostrate at your feet, I kiss a thousand times the hem of your sacred vestments. Assign me to Lisbon or Italy, so that I do not become a "Sister Christina", as this Fr. Giuseppe wrote in that letter...
De V.S. Ill.ma e R.ma
Isola de S. Thomé Como sempre figlio ubid.e
17 di Maggio 1693 Fra Franc.co Cap.no
18-11-1693 Francesco da Monteleone
... If no friars come with this fleet, I can no longer go to Benin, and it would be pointless for others to go there, because the request was made only for me personally. I add that I also cannot go because of my indisposition, since I am overcome with stone sorrow...
20-1-1694 Francesco da Monteleone
... They do not want to come to São Tomé, where I have to stay alone, since against my will I was forced to send Father Bonaventura da Brescia to the coast of Elmina to Achatháa, at the appeal of that king, and they wish to give a castle to the Portuguese. Also Father Protasio is appealing urgently and protesting that I should send him a companion...
26-3-1694 Francesco da Monteleone, summarized by P.F. (34)
Finally I transmit a copy of the attestation of one Lorenzo Pinto, a sea captain who, after bringing the missionaries to the kingdom of Warri, returned bringing a letter that the Father Prefect had written to the king of Benin, with the answer and willingness of the same king to welcome the fathers and give them a house and whatever is needed for their upkeep.
By the account of the same captain, Great Benin, where the king resides, is larger than Lisbon, with straight streets throughout stretching as far as the eye can see. The palaces are large, especially that of the king, which is richly decorated and has superb columns. The city is likewise rich and commercial, governed with good order with theft unheard of. They live so secure that they do not have doors on the houses. The craftsmen are orderly located in the squares and distributed in such a way that from one end to the other of a single square you can count 120 stalls of goldsmiths who are continuously at work...
14-6-1694 Francesco da Monteleone (35)
... Friar Francesco da Monteleone, a Capuchin and most humble speaker to Your Beatitude, tells how after completing ten years and now in his eleventh he finds himself more alone (the missionaries say exiled) than accompanied in this mission of São Tomé in the hardest place of the torrid zone whose mere name frightens all. He has not been lazy, but working in the vineyard of Jesus Chris as well as he can. But because of his great solitude and the fewness of companions he has not been able to spread the faith as he desires, nor divide himself over so many kingdoms where he has been invited. Since he has written continually and loudly to Your Beatitude and to the Prefect of Angola and Congo and that Vice-Prefect to send him missionaries, he received wearisome negative replies from Angola, and from Rome he has obtained over so many years only one who joined him on 25 April 1687 but died on 29 January 1690 [margin: The supplicant is talking about the kingdom of Warri, since the hospice was closed on his arrival at São Tomé.] Also eight missionaries came on 13 January 1691, three of whom died in a few days to the sorrow of all, since they were received as angels from heaven. Three others went to the kingdom of Warri, one to the island of Principe, and the other remained in São Tomé with the Prefect. Of these two died in Warri in 1692; the one who went to the island of Principe fled to the West Indies on a French pirate ship under excommunication; [from] ministering the sacraments, he left those people in amazed at his flight and light-headedness. The one who remained alive in Warri left a hospice half built and went to São Tomé out of prudence so as not to stay alone. But all the letters and appeals from the people of the island of Principe, who made a hospice, lament the situation where he lived calling for a companion[??]. But we are three in all, and if one goes accompanied, the other will remain alone. The king of Warri also complains, and he would not have let the above-mentioned Father depart without the promise he gave to return. Also the great jubg if Benin took counsel with all his chiefs and sent me an embassy that I should go to his kingdom, since they wished to embrace all that I should preach to them, but "every agent operates for a purpose". If the purpose of the missions is to spread our holy Faith, what good is it to open missions and not send missionaries? I have not made the mission of São Tomé, but God, and, Your Beatitude, what good is it for a kingdom to embrace the Catholic Faith and in a short while be stranded and then turn to the same idolatries for lack of continuity of workers. "It would have been better for them not to have known the way of justice than, after knowing it, to turn back from the holy commandment that was entrusted to them (2 Petri 2:21)...
The supplicant was sent to São Tomé in obedience to his Prefect of Angola on 20 June 1684. Although he found no house to lodge in on his arrival, he has done what God wanted to do through him as his instrument. He is well known to all, and he took an oath in this chapter, since the see is vacant although a biship is elected but has not arrived. The supplicant does not want to attribute to himself anything, but works only for the glory of God, "from whom all our sufficiency comes", and also for the consolation of Your Beatitude and to move you to take notice of this mission.
If the supplicant had died during the past years this mission would have certainly come to nothing, for the two missionaries that are here with him are not stable; then we could not talk of the mission of São Tomé. Since, for all his writing and efforts to get missionaries, everyone refuses, what would have happened if he did not do what he did? Rather, although he resists [bensi al contrario opporsi??], his years pass, his strength diminishes and life is getting shorter. Now the supplicant finds himself ailing with gout and split with a thousand pains and indispositions, in spite of an invincible spirit. He has written at length to Your Beatitude saying that he thinks it too difficult to undertake and tolerate the fatigues that would be required to go now to these kingdoms. But if the supplicant, so afflicted as he is, went to Great Benin and they accepted the Faith as they offer to do, would it then be possible to assist them without abandoning them as was done in the kingdom of Warri and elsewhere? "The harvest is great, but the laborers are few."
In this respect, what should the supplicant do? If the principal mission which is São Tomé is not provided for and is abandoned, what will the other kingdoms do, which are many and require many friar workers. If not impossible, at least it will most difficult to promote them, and there is not hope for other workers than Italian Capuchins. What a consolation it would be if others were to come, but if so few come and of these the best die, how can attend to so many [kingdoms]? The supplicant will decide what to do according to the orders he sees from your Beatitude, if you are pleased to answer the letters he has already written, and according to the views of all the missionaries who come. Meanwhile he waits for a new prefect and the consolation that he requested in his other letters.
[Paragraph complaining of lack of help from Angola & Lisbon Capuchins]
The supplicant humbly asks the goodness of Your Beatitude to please grant the prefect of Sao Tomé permission to make a hospice in Bahia [in Brazil] subject to the same mission of Sao Tomé. Since it takes less than a month to travel from São Tomé to Bahia and it takes just as long to navigate the coast of Guinea [??], and there are more ships going to Bahia than to the coast from São Tomé, and double the number of ships going from Bahia to the coast and not from São Tomé to the coast...
The supplicant has written several letters saying that his mandate is terminated, and he hopes for permission to go to Lisbon. And because he does not know what answer will be sent to his past letters, from this letter it is clear that he will write out of epieicheia, trusting in the favour of Your Beatitude, and when the first missionaries join him he will arrange to go to Bahia or send (if a new prefect does not come and dispose otherwise) two friars to arrange for that hospice, supposing that this will meet the intention and favour of Your Beatitude...
15-8-1694 Francisco da Monteleone
... Father Dominico da Iaci, a Sicilian, did the same thing. He left Bahia for Angola and came here by mischance. When I showed him the decree and repeated orders that the mission of São Tomé and that of Angola should help one another with apparel and missionaries, and that the prefects can share their privileges, he was not inclined to remain, alleging that his mandate sent him to Angola and that he wanted to present himself to his prefect; he even arranged to leave as a fugitive. When I saw that I let him go satisfied, so as not to cause more scandal as did Father Giuseppe da Venasca of Piedmont who fled from the island of Principe. Nevertheless, the authorities here were much amazed at Father Dominico, especially since I was left alone, since I had sent my other companion, Father Bonaventura da Brescia to the coast of Acharaa, as I also wrote to Rome...
Most Illustrious Lord, suppose that this mission is in a bad predicament and that I am afraid, as I notice, that the places already started on the coast, such as Warri and Benin, and others yet to be started cannot be cultivated, and that it would be a greater fault for them to return to their idolatry, as St. Peter writes (2 Pet 2:21). Nevertheless I am waiting for the first friars, and to see what they are like and what orders they bring. I do not intend to extend myself any more on the coast before establishing the above-mentioned hospice at Bahia. Therefore I beg the goodness of Your Most Illustrious Lordship to please sent me an answer quickly by way of the Most Illustrious Monsignor Apostolic Nuncio at Lisbon by various copies, so that they may come to me by the fleet from Bahia...
11-1-1695 P.F. summarizes Francesco da Monteleone
Father Francisco da Monteleone, Capuchin Prefect of the mission of São Tomé, begs Your Eminences please to concede him permission to build a hospice in Bahia and another at Arda for the comfort and health of the missionaries sent from here. He will take charge of finding sufficient alms for its construction.
20-8-1695 Francesco da Monteleone
[Gets permission to found a hospice in Bahia; this provokes altercation.]
... While he was involved in this, the Prefect was about to depart for Benin and Warri with four other missionaries, not considering his grave indispositions, evident danger of life and the general feeling and contradiction of all this land. May God and his glory live! If I do not leave my body in Benin I intend to return towards Lent to execute the project I mentioned in Bahia...
... Four of the five missionaries who were coming have arrived, one having died at sea. Two arrived at the island of Principe, and two at São Tomé. These two are free from death and the sickness of the land, because I made for them a preservative cure like that for the other three that arrived earlier, who are living in good health. We are also waiting for the other missionaries that we were promised. They can come without fear, because I am sure that by observing my regulation no one will die. That is making the Portuguese and indigenous people here very surprised, and they praise God for it...
22-6-1696 Angelico da Pettineo
From my heart I am going to inform your Most Illustrious Excellency in this letter of the great loss to this mission of São Tomé by the death of the Father Prefect, whose efforts were very well known. I tell you that this happend in the month of December 1695 in Warri. After a most serious illness he passed to the next life to receive the reward of his labours, provided with all the sacraments of the Church. And by a letter of his written in Gotto on 4 November 1695, he made me Vice-Prefect of this mission. By the guts of Jesus Christ, prostrating humbly at the feet of your Most Illustrious Eminence, I beg you to remove from me this burden as soon as you possibly can by providing another Vice-Prefect. Until the new Prefect comes, I promise myself [to receive this favour] from the innate courtesy of your Most Illustrious Eminence.
... 22 June 1696.
22-6-1696 Angelico da Pettineo
In two other letters sent to the Most Eminent Lord Cardinals of Propaganda in the month of June, I gave the sad news of the death of our Prefect, Francesco da Monteoleone, Prefect of this mission. These letters I sent through the Most Reverend Father Procurator at Court, and I sent them one by way of Holland and the other by way of Lisbon. Whether they arrived I do not know for sure; so with this chance to send one by way of Holland I write to you Most Illustrious Lordship to present to the Sacred Congregation its contents. And I am happy to inform your Most Illustrious Lordship that when the Prefect departed for Benin and Warri on 8 September 1695, he left me (against all that I am worth) Vice-Prefect of this Hospice of São Tomé, and before going on to the Lord to receive the rewards of his labours in Gotto in Benin territory, he wrote a letter as follows:
Gottò, the 18th of September 1695. Finding myself very indisposed in this trading port of Gotto in Benin territory, to fulfil the obligation of my office and the orders and intention of the Sacred Congregation, I now appoint and constitute as Vice-Prefect, after my death, of the mission of São Tomé and of the kingdoms of Arda, Benin and Warri, the Reverend Father Angelico of Sicily who is presently in charge at São Tomé. If he is absent or impeded in ths same way, I appoing and constitute as Vice-Prefect the Reverend Father Francesco da Norcia, Capuchin Preacher and Apostolic Missionary. If he is likewise impeded, in the third place I appoint and constitute as Vice-Prefect as above the eldest missionary found in the two hospices of São Tomé and of the island of Principe, until an other order comes from the Sacred Congregation. Should the latter die, they can elect another Vice-Prefect according to the procedure of the decree of the Sacred Congregation, with all faculties, privileges etc. Drawn up in Gotto, 18 September 1695.
Signed: Friar Francesco da Monteleone, Capuchin Prefect of the mission of São Tomé, Arda and Warri.
Written over the letter: To the Most Reverend Father Angelico of Sicily, Capuchin Preacher and Vice-prefect of the Italian Capuchins of the Prefect Friar Francesco da Monteleone.
It will go with the seal of the mission at the first opportunity.
... Regarding the state of the mission, I say to Your Most Illustrious Lordship that in Warri there are in Warri Fathers Bonaventura da Brescia and Felice da Piagine, simple priests. When Father Felice returned to this island of São Tomé, Father Friar Carlo da Cento was seriously sick, and I cannot know whether he got better or is dead, not having received any news. Father Bonaventura writes to me to send him a preacher. I asked Father Francesco da Norsia if he could go, and he answered that according to his conscience he could not go there; so I was constrained to give [the order of] obedience to Father Columbano da Bologna, who was on the island of Principe. Whether he will carry this out, I do not know. At another opportunity I will inform you of everything. On the island of Principe there is the Superior of the hospice, Father Domenico d'Alcamo, with Father Protasio Bexano and Father Columbano, although Fathers Protasio and Bonaventura da Brescia say that they have finished the time of their mission and they want to return to Italy. I am here in São Tomé with Father Francesco da Norsia and Father Carlo da Cento. On a ship that is leaving on the 15th of this month for the kingdom of Arda, Father Friar Carlo will go to see whether a mission can be founded in that kingdom, since the king has urgently requested religious to be sent to him, since he wishes to be a Catholic. To fulfil first the will of God and then the intention of the Sacred Congregatio and the desire of this king, I have sent Father Carlo to find out about everything, so that other religious can be sent there (if they are sent by the Sacred Congregation, since if these two Fathers go only six of us remain, and if Father Felice is dead we are only five) according to the disposition of those people. In the kingdom of Benin no good can be done now, since it is almost destroyed by the wars that go on among those black people; they have been destroying one another for over seven years. If they make peace, I will not fail to try everything possible for the service of His Divine Majesty and the salvation of those poor souls. Here in São Tomé we are not idle, but each one is busy with his own office, according to the talent that His Divine Holiness has given him. This is all I can tell Your Most Illustrious Lordship so that you can inform the Sacred Congregation.
P.S. I have heard that a missionary has written (I do not know whether to the Most Reverend Father Procurator at Court or to the Sacred Congregation) asking for permission to leave this mission. I freely tell you my view, that in good conscience he cannot be given this permission, since he is in good health. Yet I submit this to the prudence and conscience of Your Respected Eminence. By the love of God I humbly bet Your Most Illustrious Lordship to send us a good infermarian, since here there are no doctors or medicine.
c. 1697 P.F. comments on death of Fr. da Monteleone
The Monsignor Nuncio of Lisbon, in his letter of 15 January [pro[si.to]`], transmitted to Your Eminences a copy of a page of Father Paolo da Varazze, the Capuchin Procurator of the missions of Angola, São Tomé and Congo, written at his order, since he had news on the state of these missions.
In the first place, he says that Father Francesco da Monteleone, Prefect of the missions of São Tomé, passed to a better life. Therefore it is necessary to provide a successor for that island, who should be one of those missionaries who is the oldest and most imbued with the maxims and spirit of the late Prefect. Among all of them, he thinks that Father Bonaventura da Brescia could do best, because he is one of the oldest and most experienced, having served the Prefect to dispose the king of Benin to receive the Catholic Faith, and lastly the Prefect took him and two other new missionaries to the same kingdom. He is still there with Father Felice da Piauicio[??].
But since, having been there beyond his time of service, he wants to return to Italy, the same Procurator, with the approval of the Monsignor Nuncio, is writng to him entrusting him with the continued governance of that mission until the new prefect arrives. In case he does not wish to accept the office or if he has already left, in his place could be substituted Father Angelico da Pettineo, who was already made Vice-Prefect and still exercises the same office.
Together with the petition for new missionaries, the same Father Procurator[??] requests that a lay infermarian be sent in the place of Father Paolo da Napoli who had to stop at the hospice of Lisbon, since five missionaries had come from [d'[er??]la??], and five more are expected from there with the return of the fleet...