the Jesuits, nine by the Dominicans and one by a secular priest. In 1697, the Jesuits established a college at Sena, for the children of both the Portuguese and African elite. For a time in the early to mid-seventeenth century, there was a real prospect of the large-scale spread of Catholic Christianity in Africa, supported by a network of African kings and their ruling elite, and pushed forward by a number of remarkable priests and friars. While many Africans may have embraced Christianity in order to placate the Portuguese overlords, there is also evidence of real belief and commitment. When, for example, the city of Mombassa temporarily fell to a Muslim force in 1631, seventy-two African men and women - the 'Martyrs of Mombassa' - accepted death with their fellow European Christians rather than deny their Christian faith.

By the early eighteenth century, however, the prospects for African Christianity had become greatly reduced. The Christian Kongolese Kingdom was shattered by civil warfare and the power and authority of the Kongolese king considerably restricted. The capital of Sao Salvador was sacked by a warring faction in 1678 and was then deserted for a quarter century. Reoccupied in the early eighteenth century, its twelve churches were in ruins, and only a single priest, Estavo Botelho, remained in the capital - and he was a slave-trader who lived with concubines. Of the several provinces of the kingdom, only the coastal province of Soyo retained a significant Christian population. The Capuchin mission in the Kongo was reduced to two or three friars. By 1750, this fell to one Capuchin missionary, the remarkable Fr Cherubina da Savona, who bravely carried on traversing the country until 1777 and baptizing some 700,000 during his lonely mission of twenty-seven years. Although later Capuchins attempted to carry on the mission, the last regular Capuchin priest withdrew in 1795. In some rural villages, the maestri continued to convey Christian teachings, and the people observed Christian rituals and chanted canticles. French missionaries discovered one such village north of the River Zaire in 1773, its identity proclaimed by a great cross. However, without a regular priesthood empowered to baptize, such communities in time lapsed from their Christian faith. Despite periodic but short-lived missions in Warri and other countries in West Africa, Christianity struggled to survive. In East Africa, the religious orders and secular priests increasingly restricted their ministry to the Portuguese ruling class, and by 1712, missions to Africans continued only in Zambesia. Soon these also died out. Everywhere, Christianity was becoming a mere appendage of the colonial settlements, with the clergy becoming largely chaplains to the colonizers and supporters of the colonial governments.

There were a number of reasons for this decline of the Catholic missions. The waning power of Portugal reduced its ability to recruit and maintain

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