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In South America, the Spanish Catholic missionaries attempted the spread of Christianity by theatrical exhibitions. Garcilasso de la Veyga, who was himself of the royal race of the Incas, (his mother being a native Peruvian,) and whose father accompanied the first adventurers to Peru, thus relates the fact, in his Royal Commentaries of Peru, translated from the Spanish by Sir Paul Rycaut, knt. “This ingenuity and aptness, [i. e. of the Indians of Peru,] to attain sciences, was evidenced by a genius they had in personating and acting comedies, which the Jesuits, and some friars and other religious had composed for them. I remember the argument of one to have been the Mystery of Man's Redemption, and represented by the Indians with graceful and proper action; nor were they altogether strangers to this divertisement, because, in the times of the Incas, they usually represented their own stories in dialogues, and therefore more easily improved in that art to which they were formerly inclined by a natural aptitude. It is observable how well they acted a comedy made by a Jesuit, in praise of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which he wrote in the tongue Aymara, which is different from the language of Peru: the argument was on those words in the 3rd chapter of Genesis, where it is said, I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and that she * shall break thy head, &c. This was all acted by children and young men, in the country called Sulli. And at Potow they rehearsed a dialogue, which contained all the particulars of our faith, at which about 12,000 Indians were present. At Cozco another dialogue was recited of the Child Jesus, at which were all the nobles and people of the city assembled. Another was recited in the city, which is called the city of the kings, where the lord chancellor
* This is according to the Vulgate version, which, either from a wish to serve the purposes of a party, or from a false reading of the Hebrew, substituting 1997 for $97, has translated the passage as above, ILLA and all the nobility were present, together with an innumerable company of Indians; the argument of which was the Most Holy Sacrament, composed in Spanish, and the general tongue of Peru, which was repeated by the Indian youth, in dialogues, and pronounced with such grace and emphatical expression, with such air and handsome gestures, intermixed with songs, set to pleasing tunes, that the Spaniards were much contented and pleased to behold them ; and some shed tears for joy, to see the ingenuity and good inclinations of those poor Indians, that ever after they conceived a better opinion of them, considering them not to be blockish, rude, and filthy, but docile, gentle, and capable of improvement."43
In the year 1500, Pedro Alvares Cabral, a Portuguese adventurer, having put into the port of Cranganor, in India, he became acquainted with the Syrian Christians on the coast, and took on board his vessel, two brothers, named Matthias and Joseph, and brought them to Portugal. Matthias, the eldest, died soon after his arrival at Lisbon ; Joseph proceeded, first to Rome, and then to Venice, where, from his information, a Latin tract was published, giving
some account of his voyage, and of the Christians of St. Thoinas, in Malabar. Afterwards, it is said, he returned through Portugal, to Malabar. At the time of the arrival of the Portuguese admiral, Don Vasco de Gama, the following year, there were upwards of 100 churches belonging to the Syrian Christians on that coast, from whom he received a deputation, requesting to be taken under the protection of bis master, and to be conteret tibi caput. In the Antwerp Polyglott of 1572, the Hebrew Text has put instead of 8177, which Rapheleng, one of the editors, declared to have been done by some Jesuits, contrary to the reading of other copies, to make it agree with the Latio”; but others attribute the corruption to Guido Fabricius Boderianus. The true reading is restored in the Interlineary Version of 1584. Hody, De Text. Orig. (43) G. de la Vega's Royal Commentaries of Peru, pt. i. B. ii. ch. xvi.
p. 53. Lond. 1688, fol.
p. 347. Ed.
defended from the encroachments and oppressions of the native princes. The admiral dismissed them with promises, but as conquest was the object of the Portuguese, nothing appears to have been done for them, during the forty following years, except the erection of some commodious convents for the Catholic friars. In 1545, Don Juan d' Albuquerque, bishop of Goa, formed the design of bringing these Christians over to the faith of Rome, and for that purpose sent Vincent, a Franciscan friar, to Cranganor; but without success, notwithstanding the erection of two colleges, one for the instruction of the Syrian youth in the Latin rites and language, and the other for the instruction of his associates in the Syriac tongue. This refusal of the Syrian Christians to adopt the Romish ritual and tenets, or to acknowledge the supremacy of the pope, irritated their haughty and inquisitorial invaders, who, when their power became sufficient, lighted up the fires of the inquisition at Goa, seized some of the clergy, and devoted them to the death of heretics. The Portuguese finding the people still resolute in defending their ancient faith, began to try more conciliatory measures. In 1599, Don Aleixo de Menezes, who had been appointed to the archbishoprick of Goa, convened a synod, at Diamper, near Cochin, at which he presided. At this compulsory synod, 150 of the Syrian clergy were present, who were called upon to abjure certain practices and opinions, or to suffer suspension from all church benefices. In the third session of this synod, it was ordained, by Decree II., that all the Apocryphal and other Books, and passages which were wanting in the Syriac copies of the Bible, should be supplied from the Vulgate Latin, “which the synod commandeth to be translated, and the passages that are wanting to be restored to their purity, according to the Chaldee (or Syriac) copies which are amended, and the vulgar Latin edition, made use of by holy mother church, that so
this church may have the Holy Scriptures entire, and may use it with all its parts, as it was written, and as it is to be used in the universal church; to which end the synod desireth the reverend father Francisco Roz, of the society of Jesus, and professor of the Syriac tongue, in the college of Vaipicotta, in this bishoprick, that he would be pleased to take the trouble thereof upon him, for which he is so well qualified by reason of his great skill both in the Syriac language, and the Scripture.”
Decree III. ordains, "that whereas the Holy Scriptures are the pillars that support our holy faith, - which has made all heretics, in their endeavours to destroy the said faith,constantly and industriously to corrupt the text of the Divine Scriptures, partly by taking away such passages as did manifestly contradict their errors, and by perverting other places so as to make them seem to favour them, which hath also happened in this bishoprick ----.All which places,---- the synod commandeth to be corrected in all their books, and to be restored according to the purity and truth of the Vulgate (Latin) edition, used by holy mother church, entreating the most illustrious metropolitan forthwith to visit the churches of this diocese, either in person, or by some one well skilled in the Syriac tongue, whom he shall be pleased to depute."
Decree XIV. observes, “the synod knowing that this bishoprick is full of books, written in the Syriac tongue, by Nestorian heretics, and persons of other devilish sects, which abound with heresies, blasphemies, and false doctrines, doth command in virtue of obedience, and upon pain of excommunication to be ipso facto incurred that no person, of what quality and condition soever, sball from henceforward presume to keep, translate, read, or hear read to others, any of the following books: The Infancy of our Saviour, or the History of our Lady; the book of John Barialdan; The Procession of the Holy Spirit; Margarita Fidei, or The Jewel of Faith; The Book of the Fathers, wherein it is said, that our lady neither is, nor ought to be called the mother of God, &c.; The Life of Abbot Isaiah, &c.”
Decree XV. condemns and orders certain Breviaries, and certain prayer books, of the Christians of St. Thomas, to be corrected.
Decree XVI. commands all priests, curates, and all other persons, of whatsoever condition, or quality, to deliver all the books they have written in the Syriac tongue, either with their own hands, or by some other person, to the metropolitan, or to father Francisco Roz, in order to their being perused and corrected, or destroyed, as shall be thought most convenient; the books of common prayer being excepted, which are to be amended. And under the same pain of excommunication, commands that no person shall presume to translate any book into the Syriac tongue, without express license from the prelate, with a declaration of the book to which it is granted, the books of Holy Scripture and Psalms only excepted. This decree commits the power of granting such licenses for the present to F. Francisco Roz, on account of his skill in the Chaldee and Syriac tongues.
Decree XVII. permits vicars in their own churches to make such discourses to their people, as they shall judge necessary, out of the Holy Scriptures, and other approved books; but forbids all others to preach without a license from the bishop.
On the conclusion of the synod, the archbishop visited the different Syrian churches of Malabar. As soon as he entered into any of them, he ordered all their books and records to be laid before him, and committed most of them to the flames. The Bible generally was saved, but was ordered to be altered, and rendered every where conformable to the Vulgate ; yet many Bibles were secreted, and never produced at all, and by that means