of all religious orders in Portugal and in its overseas provinces finally brought an end to the Dominican mission in Timor.
In the Moluccas and in East Flores, the Christian faith initially spread during the sixteenth century through the efforts of Portuguese missionaries. They had arrived along with Portuguese merchants, who were searching for spices and sandalwood. After nearly a century under Portuguese dominance, Amboina fell into the hands of the Dutch East India Company in 1605, Batavia in 1619, Malacca in 1641, Solor in 1646, Makassar in 1667, and Ternate in 1683. The Dutch East India Company promoted the spread of the Reformed Protestant faith and forbade the Catholic Church to operate within its territories, with the exception of East Flores, Solor and Timor. Until 1644 the Jesuit provinces of Malabar and Japan attended to the Roman Catholic ecclesiastical needs of the islands. However, for over a century, Catholicism in Indonesia was largely cut off from the rest of Catholic Christendom. The Dutch East India Company, meanwhile, supported Protestant missionaries and insisted that all its employees be members of the officially recognized Reformed Church. Growth in the numbers of Protestant converts, however, was slow. In 1799, the Dutch East India Company was dissolved and the Reformed dominance over the region brought to an end, opening Indonesia once again to a variety of missionary activities.
In Vietnam, the first record of Christian activity was in 1533 when a royal edict was issued by King Le Trang Tong forbidding the preaching of the doctrines of 'Gia-To (Jesus), which were being spread by a man described by a Vietnamese word that usually means European. Later in the sixteenth century, a number of Dominicans entered the country, but widespread evangelization began only in the seventeenth century, with the arrival in 1615 of the Jesuit missionaries. The most famous of these Jesuit missionaries, Alexandre de Rhodes, came in 1625. He was eventually expelled, but not before he made two massive contributions to the creation of a Vietnamese Christianity. First, he led a team of missionaries who produced the Quoc-Ngu system of transliterating the Vietnamese language using the Latin alphabet, with an additional five signs to indicate the five tones of Vietnamese. This has been used by the Vietnamese people ever since. Second, de Rhodes produced a Vietnamese Catechism which had a long-lasting influence on Vietnamese Catholicism.
As a result of the lobbying of the Holy See by de Rhodes, Pope Alexander VII, in 1660, appointed two missionaries as the vicars apostolic of the two new dioceses of north and south Vietnam, then called Tonkin and Cochin China respectively. At that time, the missionaries who took over the work in Vietnam were those of the Societe des Missions Etrangeres. This latter society worked very
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