THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
IN TROPICAL AFRICA
Joseph Kenny, O.P.
Ibadan University Press & Dominican Publications
PORTUGUESE AFRICAN DISCOVERIES
CHAPTER 1: THE DIOCESE OF GOA - THE PORTUGUESE IN EAST AFRICA
1.1 THE RED SEA AND ETHIOPIA
1.2 THE NORTHERN COASTAL TOWNS
The Franciscans and Augustinians
1.3 THE SOUTH COAST: EVANGELlZATION AND COLONIZATION
Events of the 17th century
1.5 THE DECLINE OF PORTUGAL IN EAST AFRICA
CHAPTER 2: THE DIOCESE OF SÃO SALVADOR - CONGO AND ANGOLA
2.1 EARLY EVANGELIZATION OF CONGO
King João Nzinga Nkuwu (? - 1506)
Afonso I (1506-43)
Diogo I (1545-61)
2.2 FIRST CONTACTS WITH ANGOLA
2.3 A MORE INDEPENDENT CONGO
Álvaro I (1568-87)
Álvaro II (1587-1614)
Álvaro III Mvika a Mpanzu (1615-22)
Pedro II Nkanga a Mvika (1622-24)
Garcia I (1624-26)
Ambrósio I (1626-31), Álvaro IV (1631-6), Álvaro V (1636) and Álvaro VI (1636-41)
2.4 CONTINUED CONTACT WITH ANGOLA
2.5 THE CAPUCHINS IN CONGO
Garcia II (1641-60)
António I (1661-5) and the period of anarchy (1665-1709)
2.6 THE DARK YEARS (18th and 19th centuries)
CHAPTER 3: THE DIOCESE OF SÃO TOMÉ - LOWER GUINEA
3.1 SÃO TOMÉ ISLAND
3.2 ELMINA AND THE SURROUNDING COAST
The Portuguese period (1471-1642)
The French and Castilian Capuchins (1637-84)
The French Dominicans (1686-1704)
3.3 BENIN AND WARRI
15th and 16th century contacts with Benin
Warri accepts the Christian faith
The Capuchin missions: preparations
The mission of Ángel de Valencia (1651)
The mission of Angelo di Ajaccio and Bonaventura da Firenze (1656)
Francesco da Monteleone and the mission of 1684-95
Further contact with Benin and Warri
3.4 SUPPLEMENT: THE EARLY EVANGELIZATION OF BENIN
CHAPTER 4: THE DIOCESE OF SANTIAGO - UPPER GUINEA
4.1 First contacts (1445-1600)
4.2 The Jesuits (1604-42)
4.3 The Capuchins (1634-1700)
4.4 The Franciscans (1657 to mid-18th century)
CHAPTER 5: THE GOSPEL ACROSS THE SAHARA AND FROM NUBIA
5.1 EARLY SAHARAN AND NUBIAN INFLUENCE
Evidence of archaeology and Christian symbols
Evidence of traditions and reports
5.2 EUROPEANS WHO CROSSED THE SAHARA
Pieter Fardé OFM in Agadez and the north of Nigeria (1686-88)
The Franciscans in Agadez and Katsina (1710-11)
Filippo da Segni OFM (1850)
1. ECCLESIASTICAL JURISDICTIONS, 16th to 19th century
2. THE DIOCESE OF SANTIAGO
3. THE DIOCESE OF SÃO TOMÉ AND THE CENTRAL SUDAN
4. THE DIOCESE OF GOA AND NORTHEAST AFRICA
5. THE DIOCESE OF SÃO SALVADOR AND THE SÃO TOMÉ REGION
African Christianity has been well studied in its early, pre-Islamic phase. Likewise many excellent works have been written about modern African Christianity, beginning with the late 19th century. For the middle period, the subject of this book there is hardly anything in english except for a few specialized articles. The material is vast enough to write many detailed volumes. I have limited myself to giving a general survey, with perhaps a little greater concentration on the Nigerian material. I have used original sources as far as possible, but for certain sections, particularly East Africa, I had to rely mostly on secondary sources.
The sources at my disposal for the most part were written by Europeans. One would like to know better the reactions and thinking of the people who received the missionaries. That information, unfortunately, will never be available to our satisfaction.
The title indicates that this is Catholic Church history. The book in fact touches on Nubian and Ethiopian Orthodoxy and early Protestant missions, but mission work throughout this period happened to be almost exclusively a Catholic enterprise.
The aim of the book is to present a factual account, telling all that is of interest, whether to the glory or the shame of the Church, with no apologetic tidying up of history. I thought it premature to attempt a general assessment or indulge in must historical theorization. That is a necessary but delicate task, which needs to take many historical currents into account. Richard Gray (1969) has made a worthy introductory draft towards such an assessment.
In the meantime I hope this book will fill a gap in African Church history reading lists, and prove useful for students of advance or university level.
Joseph Kenny, O.P.
St. Thomas Aquinas Priory, Ibadan, and
Department of Religious Studies,
University of Ibadan
Portuguese African discoveries
Prince Henry the Navigator (d. 1460) initiated Portugal's exploration and expansion overseas. A patron of navigational science and technology, he was also a religious man, the Grand Master of the Order of Christ, which was established in 1319 to replace the suppressed Templars in Portugal. From their monastery headquarters in the town of Thomar, religious of the Order of Christ, and later members of other orders, accompanied Henry's explorers sailing on their newly designed caravels. In particular Henry was eager to contact the legendary Prester John about whom he heard so many rumours, a faraway Christian ruler thought to be somewhere in Asia and later discovered to be the Negus of Ethiopia.
Henry's first and last exploit in Morocco was the taking of Ceuta in 1415. Thereafter in his school of navigation all his attention was on planning how to get around Africa to India and discover far off and unknown lands. In 1418 his explorers discovered and colonized the island of Madeira. Bypassing the Canary Islands which were occupied by Spain beginning in 1401, Portuguese sailors went as far as Cape Bojador in 1434. In 1439 the empty islands of the Azores were discovered. There was a medieval saying that no man sailing south of Cape Bojador returns alive. That is because the ships always sailed within sight of the shore and at that point there was a strong current going south. By learning to tack away from the shore with the guidance of the compass, astrolabe and quadrant the Portuguese could go anywhere on the ocean. In 1441 they reached Cape Blanco, in 1442 Arguim Bay and in 1444 Cape Verde, giving the lie to the old fear that the ocean in the Tropics was boiling water. In 1445 the Portuguese built a fort on the island in Arguim Bay and stopped at the Senegal River and then at Cape Verde, where Fr. Polono de Lagos celebrated the first Mass in West Africa.
In 1456 Da Cadamosto sailed 100 kilometres up the Gambia river and then went on to Sierra Leone. Fernando Gomez came to Sierra Leone in 1460 and then to Cape Palmas. Also in that year the Cape Verde islands were discovered. In 1470 the Portuguese touched São Tomé, in 1471 the coast of Ghana as well as the islands of Principe and Fernando Po, and in 1474 Cape St. Caterina. In 1482 Diogo Cão reached the Zaïre river and in 1486 Cape Cross and Walvis Bay. Also in 1486 the Portuguese discovered Benin. Bartolomeu Dias came to Lüderitz Bay in 1487 and in 1488 reached the Cape of Good Hope (which he called the "Cape of Storms") and Key Mouth. In 1498 Vasco da Gama went around Africa to Mozambique, Malindi, and then Calicut and Goa in India. The dream of Henry the Navigator was then realized.
These vast new territories were assigned to Portugal by the treaty of Tordesillas in 1494. The line of demarcation was 45E west longitude through the Atlantic and Brazil. Everything to the east of this line was Portugal's; everything to the west, including most of the Americas just discovered by Christopher Columbus, belonged to Spain. This treaty was confirmed by Pope Julius II in 1506.
After the Portuguese made their first discoveries along the West African coast Pope Eugene IV in 1442 place all the new territories under the care of the Order of Christ, and in 1444 under the bishop of Ceuta, who was given the title "Primate of Africa". The continually expanding frontiers of discovery were too much for the bishop of Ceuta to look after and some other way had to be found to care for the new territories. In 1455 Pope Nicholas V made one of the biggest mistakes in Church history. He granted the Portuguese kings the right of padroado, that is, patronage over the Church in all the lands that they would discover. This meant that the Portuguese government had privileges such as nominating the bishops who were to be appointed by Rome, but in effect the Portuguese king became the head of the church in all these lands, now considered "his" lands, and only missionaries approved by the king from among Portugal's population of one million people would be welcome to go to this vast new world. In 1456 Pope Callixtus III confirmed the padroado and again gave spiritual jurisdiction of the new lands to the Order of Christ. More confirmation of the padroado came from Popes Sixtus IV in 1481, Alexander VI in 1493 and 1499, and Leo X in 1514. By the 17th century the popes began to regret deeply this privilege held by the Portuguese monarchy.
In the Portuguese zone of the globe Alexander VI established in 1499 the diocese of Âsfî in Morocco, which extended as far south as the Senegal river. Leo X in 1514 established the diocese of Funchal on the island of Madeira, which took from Âsfî the African coast south of Cape Bojador. Moreover jurisdiction for all the new Portuguese discoveries from Africa to the Far East was transferred from the Order of Christ to the bishop of Funchal, who resided in Lisbon. In 1518 Pope Leo X gave the bishop of Funchal an auxiliary for São Tomé and Congo, and in 1533 Pope Clement VII divided the whole territory into five, making Funchal an archdiocese with four suffragan dioceses: —See Map 1
In 1554 Funchal was reduced to a simple diocese, and all these dioceses became suffragans of Lisbon, except Goa, which in 1558 became an archdiocese. Later divisions were the establishment of the diocese of São Salvador in Congo in 1597, —See Map 5 separated from São Tomé, and the Apostolic Vicariate of Mozambique, separated from Goa in 1612.
- Funchal itself included Madeira and the coast of Africa from Cape Bojador to the Senegal river. (The Canary Islands, belonging to Spain, were not included; they were a diocese since 1406.)
- The diocese of São Miguel included the Azores.
- The diocese of Santiago included the Cape Verde islands and the mainland from the Senegal river to Cape Palmas. —See Map 2
- The diocese of São Tomé, which originally went from Cape Palmas to Cape Agulhas, the southern tip of Africa. —See Map 3
- The diocese of Goa included all of East Africa, India and the Far East. —See Map 4
In 1622 Pope Gregory XV took the momentous step of creating the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith (Propaganda Fide) to coordinate and foster missionary work throughout the world. Missionaries sent out by this body were usually also members of one or another of the religious orders founded in the Middle Ages or later for evangelical work, such as the Order of Friars Minor (OFM, Franciscans, founded by St. Francis in 1209), the Order of Preachers (OP, Dominicans, founded by St. Dominic in 1216), the now defunct Order of Christ, the Society of Jesus (SJ, Jesuits, founded by St. Ignatius of Loyola in 1540), and the Capuchins (OFM Cap, a break-away branch of the Franciscans, founded in 1528).
A missionary from one of these orders had to deal with the triple ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the superiors of his order, the diocesan bishop, and the Propaganda Fide office in Rome, which had the first and last say of the functioning of missionary activity. These authorities sometimes came into conflict, but in Africa the conflicts were not so much with the local bishops as with the Portuguese who claimed authority over the diocesan scene by right of padroado.
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