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The Visitor

The Visitor: Andre Palmeiro and the Jesuits in Asia

Liam Matthew Brockey
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: Harvard University Press,
Pages: 520
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  • Book Info
    The Visitor
    Book Description:

    In an age when few ventured beyond their birthplace, André Palmeiro left Portugal to inspect Jesuit missions from Mozambique to Japan. A global history in the guise of biography,The Visitortells the story of a theologian whose travels bore witness to the fruitful contact-and violent collision-of East and West in the early modern era.

    eISBN: 978-0-674-73557-6
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Note on Orthography and Usage
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Prelude: Nagasaki, 1635
    (pp. 1-3)

    Silence wrapped the apostate like a shroud. He had been broken under torture and kept under strict surveillance. Only his captors saw him regularly since October 18, 1633; they made him serve as an interpreter, but he was more prized as an in formant. The authorities wanted to know the whereabouts of the remaining priests and their scattered flock, and the apostate was thought to have the answers. And so it had been a long while since any Christian had been with him. For the apostate’s former friends and associates, rumors took the place of facts about what had happened....

  5. Introduction: Company Man
    (pp. 4-24)

    André Palmeiro was a Jesuit priest entrusted with an enormous task. In an age when most people never journeyed farther than the immediate surroundings of their places of birth, he left his homeland in Portugal for an adventure that would take him to a grave on the far side of the earth. Palmeiro’s challenge was to inspect the most extensive network of missions of the early modern age, his order’s enterprises in Maritime Asia. He bore the title Father Visitor, and the aim of his visitation was to assess how the men of the Society of Jesus had acquitted themselves...

  6. PART ONE Inside the Empire

    • 1 Entering the Order
      (pp. 27-48)

      Plague swept across Portugal in the year of André Palmeiro’s birth. The outbreak not only devastated the capital, it laid low cities and towns throughout the kingdom. Such was the ferocity of this epidemic that it became known to posterity as thepeste grande. Rumors of disease began to spread about the capital city in June 1569, shortly after the first telltale growths were spotted on the dying.¹ The contagion spread rapidly in Lisbon, one of the largest cities in sixteenth-century Europe. Its roughly ninety thousand inhabitants lived in densely packed neighborhoods that sprawled over the hills on the northern...

    • 2 The Visitor in Training
      (pp. 49-81)

      André Palmeiro spent the second half of his thirty-year stay at Coimbra as one of the senior Jesuits of the Province of Portugal. Although his formal education had ended with his successful completion of the course in speculative theology, his informal training as an administrator had only begun. By observing his colleagues at the Colégio de Jesus, he would learn how to serve as a professor of philosophy and theology, how to manage a community, and how to conduct inspections. Palmeiro’s knowledge of how the Society of Jesus functioned would likewise increase as he climbed the hierarchical ladder from simple...

    • 3 Manager of Men
      (pp. 82-115)

      On April 21, 1617, the carrackNossa Senhora da Guia, which carried André Palmeiro to India, left Lisbon harbor in the company of five other ships. This vessel was commanded by one of the most celebrated captains of the day, Nuno Álvares Botelho, the man who would be responsible for the heroic defense of Malacca in 1629. Three other Jesuits were on board along with Palmeiro; two of them were being sent to serve in the Society’s Province of Goa and the third was destined for the Province of Malabar. For six and a half months they sailed toward India....

    • 4 In the Footsteps of the Apostles
      (pp. 116-148)

      In the early spring of 1620 André Palmeiro set out from Cochin on a 1,900-mile journey to inspect the Jesuit Province of Malabar. He went on this trek in order to gauge the work of his men, visiting their colleges and residences, and speaking to each of his subordinates individually. Palmeiro traversed the heart of his appointed district over an eight-month span: He sailed first to the Fishery Coast, a mission area that was in turmoil because of a dispute between the Jesuits and the bishop of Cochin. From this southernmost region of India, Palmeiro traveled by sea to Colombo...

    • 5 Among Archbishops, Emperors, and Viceroys
      (pp. 149-192)

      André Palmeiro returned to Goa in 1621 a changed man. When he lived at the capital of the Estado da Índia two years earlier, he was a visiting dignitary; upon his return, he was the superior general’s personal representative. As visitor of the provinces of Malabar and Goa, he was the most powerful Jesuit in India, entrusted with maintaining the public image of the Society of Jesus at the heart of the Portuguese Empire in Asia. Considering the Jesuits’ important standing within the colonial clergy and the close ties between the Portuguese church and the Portuguese state, Palmeiro was an...

  7. PART TWO At Empire’s Edge

    • 6 The View from Macau
      (pp. 195-239)

      In the middle of the summer of 1626 André Palmeiro arrived on the China coast. He would spend the last nine years of his life in East Asia, governing the Jesuits’ enterprises in that region from Macau. This small Portuguese colony at the mouth of the Pearl River was the headquarters for the Society’s Province of Japan and Vice-Province of China. In contrast to the Indian provinces, these administrative units stretched far beyond the reach of colonial control: Between Siam and Japan, only Macau was in Portuguese hands. But even in that port city, neither the Portuguese and Eurasian residents...

    • 7 To Beijing and Back Again
      (pp. 240-277)

      On April 7, 1629, André Palmeiro arrived at Nanchang, the capital city of Jiangxi Province, where he found Vice-Provincial Manuel Dias the younger and Brother Manuel Pereira (1575–1633). “The joy that I had upon meeting them can easily be understood,” the Visitor recalled, “since they were the first of those whom I had entered this kingdom to seek, and having them with me gave me such contentment in my soul that I felt satisfied with my past labors and was encouraged to face the others that awaited me.”¹ After months of travel, he had finally crossed the buffer zone...

    • 8 Challenging Accommodation
      (pp. 278-325)

      On December 3, 1629, André Palmeiro accompanied a procession through the streets of Macau. It was the feast of Francis Xavier, patron saint of the Portuguese colony, and the Jesuits were obliged to hold the liturgical and devotional events intended to bring divine favor upon the city. The mood in Macau was somber: There had been no trade with Japan for two years and local fortunes, including those of the Jesuits, had withered. In this time of lean kine, tensions between the city’s inhabitants mounted because, as Palmeiro declared, “if Japan is over for Macau, than Macau is all done...

    • 9 Sunrise in the West
      (pp. 326-374)

      Ill winds blew through Macau in the late 1620s and early 1630s. The southwest monsoon brought word of struggles and setbacks in the new mission fields in Southeast Asia, while its northeast counterpart carried reports of the final destruction of the Japanese church as well as its flotsam. And to the north, the winds of war gathered in intensity as they prepared to blow across the Ming Empire, where episodes of famine, disease, and peasant revolts were becoming commonplace. The Portuguese colony that had prospered on the peaceful exchanges with various ports around the China Seas found itself battered by...

    • 10 Sunset in the East
      (pp. 375-410)

      The ships that arrived in Macau in May 1632 brought the Visitor bad news from Nagasaki. Cristóvão Ferreira, one of the last Europe an priests of the underground Japan mission, sent tales of torture, apostasy, and martyrdom from across the island empire. The reports told of persecutions of a rigor and intensity not experienced by Christians since Roman times.

      Those persecutions provided the dramatic setting for acts of pious heroism. Writing in March of that year, Ferreira gave an account of how the Japanese Jesuit priest António Ishida (1570–1632) showed invincible constancy in the face of torment. Imprisoned alongside...

  8. Conclusion: A Baroque Death
    (pp. 411-442)

    The illness that André Palmeiro mentioned in his last letter to Rome was among the first signs of his impending death. During the preceding months he had experienced dizzy spells as he walked about the college, episodes that occasionally obliged him to brace himself against his companions or the corridor walls. In January 1635 swelling in his foot, perhaps a form of gout, obliged him to take to bed. When this initial malady passed, others came in its wake. Over the next three months, the Visitor grew progressively weaker. His customary penances during the Lenten season, intensified by concern over...

  9. Abbreviations
    (pp. 445-446)
  10. Notes
    (pp. 447-492)
  11. Illustration Credits
    (pp. 493-494)
  12. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 495-498)
  13. Index
    (pp. 499-515)