Portuguese Christian Missions
According to scholar Romulo Ehalt, “That is the ‘Chronicle of the Arrival of the Christian Religion’ (切支丹宗門之由来記), an anti-Christian history of how the religion arrived in the sixteenth century.”
Japanese hand-written manuscript book that reports on Portuguese Christian Missions and Japanese missions to Lisbon in the 1500s, compiled in the 18th century.
Christian missionaries arrived with Francis Xavier and the Jesuits in the 1540s and briefly flourished, with over 100,000 converts, including many daimyo in Kyushu.Suddenly in 1587 Christianity was repressed as a threat to national unity and ceased to exist publicly. Many Catholics went underground, becoming hidden Christians (隠れキリシタン kakure kirishitan), while others lost their lives. Only after the Meiji Restoration was Christianity re-established in Japan.Portuguese shipping arrived in Japan in 1543, and Catholic missionary activities in Japan began in earnest around 1549, performed in the main by Portuguese-sponsored Jesuits until Spanish-sponsored Franciscans and Dominicans gained access to Japan. Of the 95 Jesuits who worked in Japan up to 1600, 57 were Portuguese, 20 were Spaniards and 18 Italian. Francisco Xavier, Cosme de Torres (a Jesuit priest) and Father John Fernandes were the first who arrived in Kagoshima with hopes to bring Christianity and Catholicism to Japan.The main goal was to save souls for God. But religion was also an integral part of the state and evangelization was seen as having both secular and spiritual benefits for both Portugal and Spain. Wherever these powers attempted to expand their territories or influence, missionaries would soon follow. By the Treaty of Tordesillas, the two powers divided the world between them into exclusive spheres of influence, trade and colonization. Although at the time of the demarcation, neither nation had any direct contact with Japan, that nation fell into the sphere of the Portuguese.The gravestone (second from the left), in Melaka’s St Paul’s Church, of Pedro Martins S.J., the second bishop of Funai, who had died in February 1598.The countries disputed the attribution of Japan. Since neither could colonize it, the exclusive right to propagate Christianity in Japan meant the exclusive right to trade with Japan. Portuguese-sponsored Jesuits under Alessandro Valignano took the lead in proselytizing in Japan over the objection of the Spaniards. The fait accompli was approved in Pope Gregory XIII’s papal bull of 1575, which decided that Japan belonged to the Portuguese diocese of Macau. In 1588, the diocese of Funai (the Funai Domain, centred on Nagasaki) was founded under Portuguese protection.
Colonialism / Diaspora
This collection features objects related to human colonization and displacement.