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

Chapter 25: The state of Christianity in the Serra,   pp. 1-10

Page 1


Chapter 25
The state of Christianity in the Serra
When the padre had sufficiently instructed his catechumen(a) he bathed
him in the sacred waters and gave him the Christian name of Philip, as
already stated in chapter 17. New fruits are always valued. Thus it was,
as regards the man/rfeligion and his teaching, on the part of this heathen
and of those other heathen who followed his example. Each day the fervour
of the idolaters increased, to such profit that over the land there was
wonder, and from the sea could be heard nightly the divine melodies of the
holy doctrine. Apart from the ordinary services of the church, confessions
and spiritual exercises were regularly held, from a widespread desire to
profit and benefit souls. The Lord confirmed his religion with various
miracles, curing the sick by means of the ministrations of the preachers
the Gospel, making the paralysed and the feeble walk, giving life to those
who were living without hope, and lastly drawing certain persons from the
jaws of death(b) as may be seen in the lett-rs from this mission. King
Pedro or Tora himself experienced this miracle, the Lord postponing his
(final) hour and by His secret discretion slackening the reins of life for
two months, until they were again tightened with final force, as I witnessed
on 28   January 1610.
As Christianity was proceeding in the right direction, a storm blew up
which swept if off course in such a way that I was left impotent and it
brought inmits train what still operates today, the new influence of I know
not what evil eye. The storm was so disastrous that it overturned all,
unsettling so strongly the feelings of the heathen and the new Christians
that I hardly know whether there was one left who was not weakened; with
result that those who dissimulate and pretend that they remain the same will
never be able to convince anyone in this way of their spiritual health
because one has ceased to believe in it. All of them practiced, and had
always practiced, a form of Christianity which concealed pagan ceremonies,
for they only showed themselves Christian when in the sight of the padre,
while in the Lordis sight they were worse than heathen. I do not deny that
there are in the Serra today, and have been always, many whom the Lord
protected like lilies -among thorns. Yet from this place there proceeded
much evil that, though (we have faith that) even in these barren lands God
won and the devil lost, it is possible today to entertain more than a single
doubt that what happened was the opposite.
(a) "A notable and curious head".
(b) Miracles by which God confirmed the Gospel.


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