and hundreds of his subjects. Afonso, the 'apostle of the Kongo', came to the Kongolese throne as a Christian convert in 1506, and reigned until 1543, establishing a Christian monarchy, learning Portuguese, building churches, promoting missions, and indeed sending his son, Henry, to Portugal to be educated and ordained for missionary service in the Kongo. The Jesuits arrived in the mid-sixteenth century and formed Christian villages. In 1596, the papacy established the diocese of Sao Salvador for the Kongolese Kingdom and the neighbouring territory of Angola. The Jesuits established a college at Sao Salvador in 1624; the first rector, Fr Cardosa, translated the standard Portuguese catechism into the local Kikongo language, and distributed hundreds of copies. These Kikongo catechisms were usedby lay catechists, the maestri, who handed on the teachings in the villages from generation to generation, much of the time without clerical presence.
In 1645 the Capuchins, including Italian and Spanish friars, began a mission in the Kongolese Kingdom, as part of a larger initiative of Propaganda Fide to promote mission activity directed from Rome in West Africa. In what marked the beginning of nearly two centuries of Capuchin involvement in the Kongo, the Capuchins established schools in Sao Salvador and Soyo, learned Kikongo, and began systematic evangelization in the rural districts. They established confraternities among the Africans, among them the Confraternity of Our Lady of the Rosary, which was formed in Luanda in 1658 and which became a forum for promoting African rights. Between 1672 and 1700, thirty-seven Capuchin fathers recorded a total of 341,000 baptisms. Other Capuchin missions were established on the Guinea Coast and Sierra Leone in 1644, in Benin in 1647, and in the small state ofWarri in the 1650s. Queen Nzinga of Matamba, in eastern Angola, embraced Christianity through the influence of a captured Capuchin father in 1656, and sought to create a Christian state, personally carrying stones for the building of the church of Our Lady of Matamba, which was completed in 1665, the year of her death.
After the Portuguese rounded the Cape, they set up colonies in East Africa, including fortified trading cities along the coasts. The island-city of Mozambique became the main administrative centre of Portuguese East Africa, and the city had an estimated 2,000 Christians by 1586. The Mutapa Empire in Zimbabwe came under Dominican influence in the seventeenth century, and its kings accepted baptism. In the Zambezi valley, the Portuguese crown made large grants of land (prazos) to settlers. Jesuits and Dominicans from Portugal accompanied the colonists, and in some cases the fathers held prazos. According to a Portuguese Jesuit in 1667, there were sixteen places of worship pursuing missionary work in the lower Zambezi valley - six conducted by
Was this article helpful?