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Alvares, Manuel, 1526-1583, et al. / Ethiopia Minor and a geographical account of the Province of Sierra Leone : (c. 1615)
(1990)

Chapter 5: The little attention these heathen give to the true faith and their limited understanding of it: the variety of their idols and their peculiar superstitions,   pp. 1-13


Page 1

* 'V : 1. I.
Chapter 5
The little attention these heathen give to the true faith and their
limited understanding of it : the variety of their idols and their
peculiar superstitions
Although in all their diabolical sacrifices these heathens begin
by invoking God and do not deny Him, Satan thus giving their false
superstitions the appearance of legitimacy, yet the whole of their
behaviour is so earthly and sensual that it clearly demonstrates that
these savages have little understanding of the truth.    They have so
little knowledge about the creation of the world, of the globe, and of
their own soul, that they marvel at those who do have knowledge of
these.  They know nothing of the life of Christ Our Saviour and of His
most blessed Passion.   No news has reached them of the glory of the
blessed or the punishment of evildoers, no news even of God Himself, as
a heathen called Tora who later died a C'-istian once said.    Speaking to
the Portuguese, to whom he was a good friend, he said : "Ah, gentlemen)
God passed through our country by night, and for this reason we never
come upon him here.   We believe that he has deserted us".   About the
Virgin and all other heavenly matters, they know little or nothing.     
   r
When a chief saw a picture of Our Lady, he went right up to it and stared
at its eyes.   The savage was charmed by these, because it seemed to him
that they followed him wherever he went. His great concern /f.63/ was
about the rear side of Our Lady : not being able to find it, he said
"God help me! This woman has no back! ".   Another heathen, seeing
the
Virgin with the Child in her arms, and on the other side of the altar a Ii
picture of the Saviour holding the globe in his hands, asked if this was
her servant, since he imagined that the globe was a shield. However,
when a good Christian explained to him the Mystery of our faith, he was
satisfied.
The heathen here are less advanced than the Japanese. Their question-
ing of us demonstrates their intellectual curiosity, hut they know so
little about any spiritual things that they laugh at us when we speak to
them of religious discipline, of fasting, of prayers, or of the keeping
of festivals.   As regards the other life, they have the same attitude
towards it as to this life    they believe that one will be powerful there
according to the weight of possessions one takes there, thus measuring
the eternal by the temporal.   What is worse, it seems to them that they
will spend eternal life living just as they do now.    So when their parent
or children die, they say that God has come to fetch them. When I asked


 


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