Abstract In 1579, four years after the visit of the Augustinian missionaries Martín de Rada and Jerónimo Marín to Fujian, a new group of Spanish friars reached China from the Philippines. The mission of Pedro de Alfaro, O.F.M., has generally been dismissed as a useless attempt to break the spiritual monopoly of the Society of Jesus in East Asia, which was perceived as an attempt to put at risk the careful labor of the first generation of Jesuit “giants.” However, as this study shows, the arrival of the Franciscans in Guangzhou cannot be simply regarded as a reckless behavior to “smuggle” the Gospel in China by means of some local Cantonese convert. Alfaro and his brethren pursued a specific goal, which was related to the recent achievements of Spanish diplomacy. Rather than Guangdong, they tried to reach the coast of Fujian (Chincheo), to carry on the mission of the Augustinians, who had visited Fuzhou in 1575. With the indirect support of some local encomenderos, the Franciscans intended to take advantage of the words of “friendship” expressed by Governor Liu Yaohui and other Mandarins to Rada and his fellows. Through a comparative analysis of European and Chinese coeval sources, notably some unpublished letters and reports, this article offers a reinterpretation of the aims and results of the Alfaro mission, shedding new light on a well-known but not yet fully explored page of the history of the early Christian presence in China.

Early Spanish Intruders in China: The 1579 Mission of Pedro de Alfaro, O.F.M., Reconsidered

Iaccarino, Ubaldo
2022

Abstract

Abstract In 1579, four years after the visit of the Augustinian missionaries Martín de Rada and Jerónimo Marín to Fujian, a new group of Spanish friars reached China from the Philippines. The mission of Pedro de Alfaro, O.F.M., has generally been dismissed as a useless attempt to break the spiritual monopoly of the Society of Jesus in East Asia, which was perceived as an attempt to put at risk the careful labor of the first generation of Jesuit “giants.” However, as this study shows, the arrival of the Franciscans in Guangzhou cannot be simply regarded as a reckless behavior to “smuggle” the Gospel in China by means of some local Cantonese convert. Alfaro and his brethren pursued a specific goal, which was related to the recent achievements of Spanish diplomacy. Rather than Guangdong, they tried to reach the coast of Fujian (Chincheo), to carry on the mission of the Augustinians, who had visited Fuzhou in 1575. With the indirect support of some local encomenderos, the Franciscans intended to take advantage of the words of “friendship” expressed by Governor Liu Yaohui and other Mandarins to Rada and his fellows. Through a comparative analysis of European and Chinese coeval sources, notably some unpublished letters and reports, this article offers a reinterpretation of the aims and results of the Alfaro mission, shedding new light on a well-known but not yet fully explored page of the history of the early Christian presence in China.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11574/209586
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