Book 2, Chapter 11

Follows the course of the story                                                                                                           Chap. XI

Now we return to the thread of the story;  when the church was finished [crossed out:  the Father caused to be placed/added:  having finished them as I have said]  the Sacred image over the Alter adorned with silken cloths of various colours given by the Queen, where it was worshipped & revered with great devotion [123] & feeling & composed the following oration addressed to the Crucified Lord.

Oratio ad Jesum Crucifixiam

Jesus Son of the Living God who through the will of thy Father and the working of the Holy Ghost descended in the womb of a Virgin to where, having been ineffably conceived, thou

as­sumedst flesh so that afterwards thou couldst ascend the cross where thou hast shed thy Blood.  Merciful Jesus let thy grace descend amply through the merit of the Virgin Mother onto thy most unworthy servant, so that I may conceive desire & love inside myself, & through thy grace working in me bear fruit of good works.  Let me produce beneficial work.  Sweetest Jesus I implore thee to pour out thy multifarious charity to me a sinner, that I may desire nothing earthly or fleshly, but love only thee above all things.  Write thy law on the tablets of my Heart that I may have always before me the memory of what thou hast borne for me, & not think of my self, and it may be sweet to me not only to think upon these things but also, should it be necessary, to suffer, and not only to obey thee with all my strength but also for thy sake to bear contumely and be condemned to the most shameful death.  Therefore I pray for what thou decreest, I seek for what thou dost prescribe, I press for what thou enjoinest.  Thou who madest me able to do make me to accept:  thou who gavest me the power to seek enable me to find:  thou who hast taught to move make it possible for the work of the mover to enter.  I have it from thee that I desire, may I have it from thee that I obtain.  Give me what I may offer, keep what thou mayest demand so that thou mayest be willing to crown what thou preservest.  Good Jesus, I adore thee, praise thee, glorify thee, and be propitious to me a sinner, & do not despise me the work of thy hands.  But Save & help me for the sake of thy name.  Hold out thy right hand to the work of thy hands, that thou mayest save my miserable soul through thy great mercy & save all those who turn to thee through thy Holy Gospel preached by me [and my preaching] in these infidel Regions, where thou hast sent me, thou who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Ghost, & Reign throughout the world without end.  Amen.

Alas, Lord Jesus I have sinned, I have sinned, & done evil towards thee.  Have mercy on me, I pray thee have mercy, for thou art merciful & clement:  it is thine to be always merciful, & spare those who humble themselves to thee.  Grieve for all the stains that I have made.  I lay down all my sins [124] before thee and all my faults in thy flowing wounds, and hurl them into the abyss hoping & trusting in thy infinite goodness.  Answer and satisfy me fully.  I am resolved with thy help to correct myself, Renounce my own will and self thinking, I renounce all inequity and irregularity and so comfort me & save me.  Lord Jesus thou art my creator & my love, Amen.[1]

With this fervent and loving oration he began to serve the Crucified Lord with his divine help, Catechising, baptising, & doing the office of a zealous & diligent Shepherd.  There were many who came to receive the Sacred ablution, and this good beginning have great consolation to the Father, nor can there be a greater, than to see such work bearing fruit, especially that of the salvation of the Souls redeemed by our loving Lord at the price of his most precious blood; for this the Saints did not cease to [crossed out: imitate our redeemer] cross the sea, ford rivers to obtain their Salvation.  Seeing then that good principles of the Christian faith were being laid, he suggested to the Queen that [added: to have … abberricapade Cap circa … Vices] she should abandon her multitude of concubines, & that a single one should be kept according to the christian custom, & she should marry him, showing her how a King has to be a living lesson for himself & for his Vassals to whom he is like a teacher, & what is more it is suitable for a King for reasons both of obligation & necessity to be as it were a force in the customs & actions and keep them more than his Vassals, & the dignity of a King obliges & constrains him & the laws apply even more to Kings & great people than to private persons.  The Queen smiled at these exhortations, seeing herself already old, & her shoulder bearing seven Crosses, & unable to give birth, but withal when she heard the Father’s effective Reasons, & how necessary it was that she should marry although she was old, because in all nations examples are more effective than words, especially in this inner Ethiopia where they follow their King whether he is good or bad [evil] and are like the shadow to the Body, & the wave to the wind, & the minister of the Gospel is wasting his time trying to obtain the salvation of its members if he does not first find a remedy to the disorder in the [125] head from which force & vigour are communicated to the limbs, for this reason the Father managed to compose the disordered head of the Queen so that the limbs should have no cause for complaint, & I say this so that the readers should be far from censorious, in hearing of a woman of seventy getting married; there was no lack of opposition both from the Queen and from the people, but finally everything was conquered by patience & prudence, & she determined to obey the Father and marry according to the decree of Holy Mother Church, so that her subjects should have no opportunity or excuse not to imitate her.

It was several months after the death of the principal concubine and no other had taken his place, & the second was the Concubine called Sambagilla, the first being called Gana Innene meaning principal Lord; she should have kept to the second who in features & physical qualities was not inferior to the others.[2] Nevertheless she chose another called D. Salvator, young, well disposed, & a gentleman, & leaving the others, she turned them all away; [at this … only for … that they made to value] so they assigned for the marriage the fifth day of february,[3] and while preparations were being made for the feast she wished first to make public her determination so that there should be no disturbance at the news, and ordered all the army to gather together in the Court square, and having risen to a commanding position and armed with a bow and arrows [outside the Rock, and spindle] she made her wish clear to all, showing that she no longer wished to follow the evil practice of Concubinage, & that although she was already old, & unable to conceive, yet she wished to marry to set an example to them, and they would then have no excuse to give when the Priest exhorted them to marry & abandon their concubines.  So in the year MDCLVII on the 5th [fourth] of february Queen Ginga was married in true matrimony according to the custom of Holy Mother Church, there was great feasting & joy and a banquet lasting for many days not only for the great people of the Court, but also for the populace, & afterwards each of the great people entertained the Queen, emulating her in the sumptuousness & splendor, as it is the [126] custom among Ethiopians not to give celebrations or call them such unless there is a great deal to eat & drink.  That given for the wedding of their Queen had to be even greater and surpass all the others, as her Vassals ought not to be amazed at this wedding because in this Ethiopia it is usual for the head to be first to move [advance] to set an example to the limbs which follow; [marg. although it is contrary to the Counsel of the apostle which says that one should marry women who can give birth, and not Old women, nor does one read in the Holy Scripture that an Old woman should marry a young man but that Young should not marry Old because normally to marry Old to young means continual quarrelling and disgust.]  But one must marvel at hearing someone with seven Crosses and more asking God to give her a son without anyone thinking of the time she had passed in the freedom of the Flesh, & venting her sensual appetite in lechery during so many Years, nor was her petition unique, for many times she prayed for it aloud, & also asked the Priest with pleading words if he had means of obtaining the desired grace from blessed God; O what a metamorphosis dear reader is this?  When one reaches seven Crosses there are usually cries to be heard at being abandoned by sin through old age, & this worn-out woman was asking to give birth to a child, & that she had not abandoned the … is obvious.

The Queen’s example was so effective that having been at first disconcerted they also offered themselves to do the same and follow her [out: such …/ add: Sacta Crcene et Inverm …] & they put it into effect to the great consolation of the Father, who celebrated the marriage of a large number of the great people and the others followed them, as there is a custom among these Ethiopian nations even for the poor not to be content with just one Concubine, but they want more than one, & even bring up small girls for the purpose, & when one of them is unwilling, or the man is disgusted with her, he leaves her, & takes another, & I say this so that the reader may know what happens & this is the custom among these black Ethiopian nations who are so barbarous in their ideas as they are filthy in their intentions; to uproot their entrenched custom one needs not human strength, still less Theology or philosophy, but patience & recommending the transaction to blessed God, for the example of the Head is what moves the limbs and when the Queen has changed the subjects will change too, [127] both noble and common, and when the Father saw the new vine of Christianity growing, to remove the opportunity for idolatry from their hearts, & prevent them returning to the fleshpots of Egypt, he ordered several articles to make the fabric of Christianity that had begun firmer, which I will note here so that the reader may know them, & they are as follows.  Articles:

1.  First, that no-one, even a heathen, should under threat of rigorous punishment make sacrifices invoking the devil, & killing men, women, or Animals as was the custom before.

2.  That on pain of rigorous punishment no man or woman must kill their child, & the Father will subject any accomplice to the same punishment.

3.  That all women must give birth inside the quilombo, not outside, & any transgressor shall at the very least be flogged.

4.  That the Singhilli should be disbanded as ministers of the devil.

5.  That children should be brought to the Church to be baptised as soon as born without delay customary among the Giaghi, & whoever does the contrary should be subject to punishment imposed at the discretion of the Father missionary who works there.  The Queen had these published, & ordered them to be kept of pain of severe punishment, and both the nobles and the commons confirmed them; but works did not correspond to the words as you will hear in the proper place.[4]

When fourteen months had passed during which the Father had been at the Court of Queen Ginga, & four since the death of King Don Gio. of Portugal, fourth of the name, the Queen determined to send an Ambassador to Portugal & also to Rome to profess obedience to the Supreme Pontiff Universal Father & Shepherd of the Holy Church in her name as a Christian Queen, and to this effect sent her Secretary as an Ambassador,[5] & the above-mentioned Father went in his company as far as Massangano where P. Serafina da Cortona, Prefect of the Mission, was in residence, thinking to go on to lisbon [128] & also to Rome, but the Superior decided that it was expedient for him to go himself not only to lisbon, but also to Rome, & leave the Father in his place to govern the mission, & so he left him as superior & started for Loanda to await the departure of the Governor of the Kingdom, who having finished three years of rule had to return to his King’s Court;[6] he was to embark with him, and the Secretary of the Queen also arrived, and presented the letters in public audience, and as part of his Embassy gave the reasons that moved the Queen to send him to Portugal, but it was concluded by the Royal Chamber that it was not fitting to give a passage to him against a Royal order that no Ethiopian Lord should go or send an Ambassador to Europe, & these, to cover their resolutions which are prejudicial to the black nations, & so that the reader should have nothing to censure me for, are as follows in brief:  the black people are the most profligate in the world for when they have something to eat & drink they consume everything, and do not stop until everything is finished, or they burst, rather than leave anything for the next day, & they are great devotees of Bacchus, fonder of wine than of life, & when their bodies are full of wine speak loudly but not to the purpose, so what they say does not smell of wine?  That is why there is opposition to letting Princes of Ethiopia go to Portugal, as, what is more, they cause great annoyance to the King, & they are more than ordinarily ill-behaved & impertinent, & commit many disorderly acts in the City, greatly to the discredit of whoever sent them, & whoever receives them, & these are the reasons for not allowing them a passage, & for the same reasons one was denied to the Queen’s Ambassador.  When the Queen had been advised of the refusal, she recalled him to the Court with orders that P. Serafino should give the Embassy’s message & the letters, & this was done, the copy of which is given on the next page [above line … no … in the] and also received a letter in which her Ambassador was given orders to swear obedience to the Supreme Pontiff in her name as a Christian Queen.

So Padre Serafino set off in the year MDCLVIII and embarked with the [129] Lord Governor & having reached the Coast of Brazil, part of America; they were attacked by a Dutch ship, & the Governor was mortally wounded, tertiaries were killed & a companion of his wounded, & the barbarous pirate threw them ashore on the same Coast, & although a heretic treated the father & his companion with great courtesy & reverence, because he not only gave him back his writings & whatever he took, but did not allow the Seraphic habit to be touched without reverence, which he did not do to other religious, Jesuits and Tertiaries, who were greatly affronted by the stripping of their clothes although they were later given them back; on the third day they buried the Governor & our Lord wished to reward him for his charity to his servants.  When they arrived in Pernambuco, the father rested there a few days in our hospice, & then returned to the sea, arrived in Lisbon, & having finished his business there embarked for Italy, & having arrived in his Province was courteously received, & on re-embarking for Rome was taken by chance to the Island of Sardinia.  Finally he reached Rome, & completed his mission, professing obedience to the Pope in the name of the Queen, & was received according to the custom of other Kingdoms. While he was awaiting the dispatch of the Holy Congregation for his return he was called by blessed God to eternal rest,[7] & to receive the reward for his labours that our loving Lord is accustomed to giving to those who work for the salvation of souls redeemed with his most precious Blood.[8]

Copy of the Queen’s letter to the Pope

Our most blessed Holy Father

I send our Ambassador, so that he may kiss Y. H.’s foot & in our name profess obedience to you now that we recognise you as our Universal Father Head of the Church of God, & Vicar of our Lord Jesus Christ, whom until now we have not realised to be the true God, living in the toils of idolatry, although in our youth we received the Holy baptism.  God has remembered us giving us time to repent, & Y. Holiness has favoured us [130] with the Capuchin Priest to preach the Holy Gospel, for which we render you infinite thanks, being most obliged to Y. Holiness for the Zeal which you hold for our salvation through which we have come to knowledge of the truth, and have already erected a Church & all of our Court have been baptised; let Y. Holiness concede to us your Holy blessing for which we now Supplicate like obedient children.From our Kingdom of Matambe on the 8th of the month of 7bre 1657       Queen Donn’Anna

Letter to the Cardinals[9]

Most Eminent Lords & Most Revered Cardinals

The Holy Zeal of YYEE which you have for the salvation of our souls in sending us the Capuchin Priest to preach the Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ constrains us to give you infinite thanks as we are greatly obliged to YYEE Lords while we now have knowledge of the true God, of whom we were formerly in ignorance living in the toils of Idolatry; his pity is great towards us who do not deserve his infinite mercy, and withal he offers it to us by means of the coming of the Capuchin Priest.  May the Lord permit that we should be worthy of the grace which he is giving us so that we do not deserve greater punishment for our sins. If YYEE send us other Capuchin Religious to help our Kingdom we shall gladly receive them, & we shall esteem it a particular favour if God concedes many years of life to YYEE for our good & that of all faithful Catholics in our Kingdom of Matamba, 8th of the month of 7bre 1657.

Queen Donn’Anna

These are the Copies of the letters that were entrusted to P. Serafina da Cortona superior of the mission, who before embarking for Europe sent me an order to go to help that Court where until the present I have been living thanks to blessed God.[10] To execute this order with the punctiliousness due from one who in his second birth has made God a solemn promise I set out from Massangano [131] although unwell on the 16th of October, & arrived on the 12th of november[11] not without having suffered greatly on the journey as it was the beginning of the wet season, & my corporal health was poor.  I was met by one of our Religious, fra Ignacio da Valsasna, & then outside the City by the Queen, with great festival & joy, & when I entered the inhabited part I was met by fourteen women, each of whom carried her small child at her breast, & these had been born after the departure of the above mentioned Father.  It will seem to the reader that this encounter is rather laughable, but if he reflects on the description of the barbarities committed on children he will find an occasion not to laugh but to weep for the past, & celebrate with great joy their present conversion; to tell the truth, dear readers, I can not write with my pen, nor explain in words the joy & consolation it brings to a minister of the Gospel to baptise little children, & even more so to bury their persons after that Sacred ablution, as their Souls are already partakers of the eternal glory, & a fruit of the Blessed vision of our only good.[12] Christ our Redeemer, my will was ardent & my desires inflamed to work for the salvation of Souls, but bodily strength failed me because the poor health I enjoyed increased until it became a mortal illness, but in the days before the illness it occurred to me to go to visit one of the great men of the Court, & on the way I met two Ethiopian women with little babies at their breasts, and asked them in their own language[13] if those children were baptised, but at the sound of the words they let them fall to the ground without compassion, I say, as if they had been two stones the centre of which they had picked out, & took to their heels as fast as if many people had been after them; I hastened my steps not to follow them but to pick up from the ground those two doves and, in spite of my weakness, found them with the mark of original sin & at once made them pure & clean with the holy baptismal ablution, & when the women returned, constrained by the Lord’s orders, I asked them the reason for their flight; they answered that they [132] thought that I, & others, were about to eat them, or at least mutilate them further, and showed me meanwhile their nipples marked with the hateful imprint of the Queen; I answered them “I give you good security my sisters in Christ, I give you & your children life”, and on seeing the opposite of what they had suspected they were greatly consoled & happy.  Receiving their children, they gave thanks according to the black people’s custom.  And what mother, dear reader, would have been so cruel as to let her child fall to the ground & abandon it?  Only an Ethiopian mother would have done this, nor is this new among Ethiopian women, for they give birth easily, & find it hard to bring children up, because they leave them as food for Dogs & other animals or throw them into rivers thinking this not shameful but honourable & glorious, & show signs of great joy, & some even dance & sing because they are freed of the tiresome sight of their children, & their crying,  O blind woman, where in the woods the wild animals weep & wail for the death & loss of their young, & show themselves savage towards those who kill them, & prepare for vengeance with the arms given them by mother nature, sharpening the points of their Tusks, grinding their teeth & quivering with rage, and make known their anger with the horrible sound of a frightening voice, and show love & compassion for their young, to the Confusion of these black Ethiopian women without love & compassion towards their children, & where they should show grief & sympathy they show bodily Joy & jubilation of the Heart.

Seeing my infirmity grow worse without Remedy being of much use that was applied to me by the great Charity of brother Ignacio da Valsasna[14] our Religious from the Province of Milan, who never failed to be of continual assistance both by day and night, like a mother & true observer of the Seraphic order given to the sons in his Rule.  I was obliged to go to Embaca, Garrison of Portuguese Lords, and to that effect the Queen gave me one of her officers with people to escort me so that they should hasten my departure, & it was necessary to travel by night so that my death should take place outside her Kingdom and she should not be implicated, for black people are usually afraid [133] because they do not believe anyone can die without having been helped by poison or something else.  They were diligent in executing their Queen’s orders, & in eight days I arrived in Embaca where I was received with great love & charity, & the Portuguese brought me back to life so that I returned from the way of death; afterwards I was destined to go elsewhere as you will hear in the proper place.[15]

Returning them to the course of our story, I say how the Queen in the year MDCLIV [in marg. 1660[16]] determined to leave the Ginga name & works altogether, & wrote about this to the superior[17] who lived in Massangano saying that she wanted to choose a new place to found her Court, & make a proper Church, which would be in better condition than the one where they lived & she wished him to attend the function in person.  When he had the letter he was nothing if not diligent, and set out at once on the Journey to the Queen’s Court, and having arrived he found a large number of stones prepared although it was necessary to carry them on people’s shoulders for four leagues on a very difficult & rough path.  He was received by the Queen with great signs of joy, & in his presence they chose the new place for the foundation of the new Court, two leagues away, very fine to see, near the river Vamba which was less than a mile away, surrounded by Hills full of various trees, and all cultivated.  There they built a Church of straw & wood, & a house for us Capuchins, one for the Queen & also for the great people of the Court, & they gave the court the name of Cabazzo, or alternatively Santa Maria di Matamba.[18]

When they were to leave the old Court to go to the new one, she ordered in a public announcement that no-one could pass to it who was not baptised, and when the Father heard their cries he did not consent to the execution, so that those sheep should not remain far from the Shepherd because he was only one & there were many infernal Wolves, he finally ordered a devout procession with many lights, & carrying the Holy image, and they came to the new City and Court, & placed the Holy Image in the Church which was already built.

[134]    Now before I go on, dear reader, I wish to Relate the heroic action which the Queen accomplished before leaving the old Court, & going to the new.  The Queen kept a Silver Chest dedicated to King Ngolambande her brother, & to the devil, to which she made sacrifices & which she worshipped & revered with her people as she has been said in treating with the quixillas and noted under the eleventh.  She had been exhorted more than once by the Father to leave that false worship but never was willing to obey; but always showed herself strong & constant in her will inclined & bent towards evil.  When he saw how she had ordered that those not baptised could not go to the new Court, nor build Houses there, he took the opportunity to speak to the Queen, for the proclamation was more for her than for the Vassals, & said that Anna, Christ, & Satan whom they worshipped in the Chest, could not stay joined together, and she took council with the great people on the subject, some took the part of Christ & others that of the devil, each favoured his own side, the Father was on the side of Christ our only good, as his Interpreter[19] and the Queen’s instructor he did not fail to exhort her to leave that false worship of the Chest, & offer it to Christ our Lord to make it into a lamp to illuminate his sacred temple.  The Father entreated in orations to the mother of mercy that she might obtain from her blessed son the illumination of the Heart of the Queen so that she might abandon Idolatry; finally the enemy was vanquished & shamed, because after various consultations the Queen resolved to offer the Chest to Christ our Lord.  The day for the offer arrived and the devil was crying out in anger, resentment, & rage.  So she went to the Church, & kneeling before the Holy Crucifix she offered up what she had worshipped for so many Years, so that it might serve to make a lamp which would burn perpetually before his holy Crucified image, humbly asking his pardon for the sins & acts of idolatry she had committed & promising to make amends, & give true adoration to him as supreme good & Creator.  The Father received that offering, I believe, with tears in his eyes from Comfort [135] at seeing in his hands that great statue of King Nebuchadnezzar who had prepared the burning furnace for those who did not worship him, and capital punishment; think, dear reader, what consolation this was for him who labours for the salvation of Souls; no-one can tell or describe it except somebody who has tried & weighed up the Love of our loving Lord & paid the price for them; the devil saw himself deprived of the adoration & worship which he had received and shouting with rage, & spitting foam from his mouth, his eyes shining with fire, he rose [went out] against the Father in battle, & caused him some harm, which however was not sufficient to trouble him, nor deprive him of the Zeal for saving Souls, but rather he armed himself more against him as a declared enemy through the public manifestation of his diabolical will, & aversion to the Creator’s works.  He also showed his anger & indignation at the Interpreter, because in the same year more than 70 of his slaves ran away,[20] but as blessed God allows everything to happen for his greater glory, he did not fail to afflict him with various events, & the death even of his sons & slaves, but he did not lose Heart, nor did he cease exercising his office with more fervour than ever.

So when the Queen was in her new Court, the Father induced her to fulfill her promise of building the Church; the Queen consulted her great people about it, & they concluded to begin the structure, and planned that the new Church should be 122 feet long and 42 wide with porches round it,[21] & a Sacristy; the foundations were laid, seven palms wide and all in stones & earth, as there was no Lime, nor good stones for building it, & even had there been any they lacked skill in working with stone.  The Queen placed two gold rings in the foundation stone, & while the foundations were being laid I arrived in this Court, called by my superior, during the year MDCLX; I say this so that the reader may know that I am speaking of what I have seen & not just heard.[22]

The superior left for Loanda to have the lamp made from the Silver Chest, which was extremely beautiful and weighed 28 marchi,[23] & he also had a stoup made for [136] holy water, for which the craftsman took four slaves which were worth 84 thousand Reis, which is 210 Italian Crociati.

So you should know, dear reader, that this new magdalen could previously have been asked what God asked Cain, “where is Abel your brother?  Where are those of your blood?”  She could also answer that she was not the keeper of her children, brothers, nephews, relations or even followers, but now, being Anxious for her own & the common good, she not only looked after the fabric of the big Church, but at the same time built one in her Court dedicated to St. Anne, wishing to be herself the first to drive the Mattock into the earth, following the example of the Emperor Constantine, & placed a golden Ring in the foundation stone, & her husband another, & they had great celebration & joy both in beginning and in finishing it, and in adorning it with a beautiful picture of Saint Anne which cost 120 Italian ducats; she also made various ornaments of brocade & silk appropriate to her greatness, & it was blessed in the year 1662 on the 24th of April.

When the day of the birth of our loving Jesus drew near, our only good and bringer of jubilation & joy to the world, there was no lack of public & private exhortations to prepare for the solemnites, that reached the Queen, & by a public invitation she obliged all, and in particular the women, & children, to pass [spend] that luminous night in her house, & Church, where there was to appear the supreme King of glory & redeemer of the human race to recognise as a Shepherd the sheep belonging to his flock.  I did not fail to do as I was obliged to by the duties of my post so that each and all of them should find the promised consolation under a humble & poor Hut according to the Christian custom Represented by our good Jesus at his birth.  I put together a crib, & as this was a new thing, & unheard of, it brought great consolation & joy to all, and the Queen was not satisfied with looking & admiring but burst into various loving words towards the newborn King, & the supposed Father, & the Most Holy Virgin, calling them by the name of Cambria[24] which means friends [137].  On that Most Holy night the Queen made not only the Church splendid with lighted lamps, but also the square with eight piles of wood which she caused to be built & lit and which made it as bright as midday.  She also caused all the firearms to be discharged.  She had heard during private exhortations how our Father St. Francis wished everybody to celebrate that Most Holy solemnity of the word made flesh, & that even the irrational animals should not have to hunt for their food on that most solemn day, for if he had been a great Lord  he would have wished the countryside, squares & streets to be covered with sustenance for them so that they should not have to busy themselves with anything except praising the Creator with their song; so while we were enjoying this splendour the spiritual joy of the birth of our loving Lord, there appeared in the square a quantity of men loaded with maize, millet, & other produce sown in the earth, & made a great mass of it; I wondered at that action, not remembering that it had happened in the past, and when I asked the reason for that new thing, & its meaning, she answered that it was following the example of Father St. Francis, and I dispensed it that morning to Christ’s poor, & they gave many thanks for it.

After this action I went in to Celebrate Holy Mass, & before it various European & native instruments were played, and the newborn King was applauded with shouts, clapping of hands & the same happened at the Gloria in Excelsis & the elevation, and all the firearms were discharged too.  After the mass, in a brief speech, I showed the greatness of the festival, & in particular the grace granted to the Queen & her Vassals, & the children born more recently all applauded three times with their hand in sign of thanks to their Creator & liberator, accompanying this with cries according to the black people’s custom as a sign of even greater joy, & after the third mass was finished she made the table in her Court resplendent with many things to eat, European wine, & even made it possible for the common people all to eat, drink & celebrate the most solemn day of the birth of our liberator & redeemer.  So these festive days passed with much joy and festivity & when the time came for the adoration [138] of the Magi Kings,[25] beginning of the conversion of the heathen, she did not fail to prepare spiritual food for souls on that day.  I took the tiny Jesus from the crib and hid him behind the little table of the gloria in excelsis without anyone knowing.  That festive day arrived, which is much Celebrated by worldly Kings, & also with worldly recognition, giving or renewing Vassalage to the supreme King of glory, and the Queen wished to imitate them.  She appeared in the square curiously dressed and accompanied by the great people of the Court, & escorted by her waiting-women more than 200 in number & with a guard of musketeers & archers, with the sound of musical and military instruments, accompanied by shouts according to the black people’s custom; behind them came three curiously dressed pages and each carried in his hands a Silver dish, in the first there was incense, in the second three candles, in the third perfumes; I received her at the Church door with the holy water and she went up to the Altar where she set down her Royal Crown, & on her knees before the crib prepared to offer those gifts in memory of those which were presented by the magi Kings, & looking for the new King, & finding him missing, was beside herself, & turning to me said “Padre where is monazambi?”[26] meaning where is the son of God?  I answered that he was in the custody of his supposed Father & of the Most Holy Virgin, but they had hidden him from fear of the new herod.  She was most disconsolate, and I said that she should keep her gifts and at the end of mass I should go in search of little Jesus.  I celebrated Holy Mass after which in a brief speech I showed what great cruelty had been committed to children, & particularly what she had done when she led a Giaga life, which must have been the reason for Saint Joseph & our Lady the Virgin hiding their son, thinking she too was Ruling as cruelly as herod, & turning to the Mother of mercies & the supposed Father I assured them that Queen Ginga was no longer living as a barbarous herod, but living & reigning differently in truth, and asking from her Soul to see the Creator & Redeemer who did not refuse to let himself be found & seen by her.[139]  Like a true sheep, when she saw her Creator, on her knees with all the people, she began to bleat like a sheep & to ask [plead] for pardon for the sins she had committed, giving him the gifts she had retained, humbly asking him if he would receive them in sign of true Vassalage which she was offering him as his creature, & work of his heavenly hand; so in sign of true reconciliation I gave him to her to kiss, and having kissed him with great humility & reverence and made a devout obeisance she left the Church with great joy & gladness, & went with the Vassals into the Court to feast for the rest of the day, giving all the vassals and the Portuguese members of her army something to eat, & on that day did various acts of kindness, clothing some, treating others, giving prisoners their freedom, & restoring some to offices & others honouring with tasks so that all should enjoy the Royal solemnity with joy & consolation.

As the fabric of the Church had to be continued with it was necessary to return to digging out stones for that purpose on the first day of Lent after the celebration of Holy mass, & having received that Annual reminder which holy mother Church gives to its children of their present & future state so that they should remember their beginning & end and not grow proud, & return from the path of error into the right path which leads to our true home; having therefore come to the appointed place they found lodgings & a Church to celebrate Holy Mass.  In the morning, after it had been celebrated, the Queen and all the people went to dig out stones in the side of a mountain which was very steep; there they worked, some transporting stones and others digging them, none were idle, all worked, even the Queen’s waiting-women who assisted her in person in the work, encouraging others with words & deeds.

It happened that while they were digging stones high on the mountain one rolled off with such speed that it flew rather than fell & hit the back of a woman & threw her to the ground, & the stone was bigger than a man’s head; having seen the blow from the stone & the woman on the ground I rushed with winged feet to her invoking the holy name of Jesus [140] to help the poor woman, but o divine virtue I found her whom I had expected to find at death’s door without a single cut, nor even a bruise, not because of her strength or from protection of her clothes, because according to their custom she went practically naked, but because of a miracle wrought by the Holy Crucifix, which when the Queen had seen it she said that no-one working on the fabric of the Church could perish, as it was the House of our loving Lord, and there were various cases like this as you will see elsewhere.  When the necessary number of stones had been obtained they were taken to the City, & because a few malcontents might have left them in the wood & along the way, they were ordered on pain of severe punishment each put his own in a separate place so as to give an account of them when asked, & it was done punctiliously; so having returned with provision of stones to the City the continued with the fabric they had begun when rain permitted, as it was at the time when the rains were at their heaviest.[27]

On the friday, a festival dedicated to the Passion[28] of our loving Lord, they went through the stages of the passion, a truly pious custom of the Portuguese nation, & very fruitful, & after the procession there was a brief speech on the Passion of Christ, & general instruction in the Church, but what was more singular than anything was the friday of Holy week dedicated to the death & Passion of Christ our whole good, this I say was celebrated by the new Christians with a great show of penitence such as disciplining themselves, carrying Crosses, stones, pieces of wood, walking with their arms crossed, with chains round their Necks, & other similar demonstrations; the Queen was present at all functions, even those at night, in order to encourage the people, & although old & halt she took the discipline in her hand, [margin: bursting into the following song: Forgive Lord my protracted offenses.  My frequent Falling, & slow rising up.  Keep us from failing.  All things are now spread on the earth.  Do not say my thirst is unworthy of a Stone.  He makes each of us to be so] & if the days of the Passion were celebrated with a show of penitence, those of Easter were celebrated with great joy & gladness, Firearms being fired all night, & in the morning at break of day all their accustomed military and musical instruments were played.  On that most solemn day she appeared splendidly dressed, & so did her waiting-women, & the great people of the Court, & they all with signs of joy kept the feast of that mystery so disbelieved by the Ethiopians & other barbarous nations.  After the spiritual joy there followed the Corporal one [141] with much feasting & drinking, given not only to natives but to strangers, & it was always her custom to follow a spiritual with a corporal feast because without the second they are not called festivals by the ignorant blacks, even though they are the pivot of the year, & the reason is that their Priests never have festivities, Ceremonies or sacrifices without much eating &c.[29]

In the year MDCLVI after making peace with Queen Ginga, & reconciled her with Holy Mother Church, the Lord Governor told everything to the King of Portugal his lord & as he was near the end of his term of governorship the Answer did not come in time, but came to his successor Jiann fernandez Viera, & is as follows.[30]


To Ludovico Martino di Suosa.  I the King salute you, I have seen what you wrote to me in your letter of 22 April last, & the writings you have sent on the reconciliation of Queen Ginga with the Holy Catholic Church, & her way of living in obedience to it, all at the instance of the Capuchin Religious missionaries who work there; it has seemed to me good to congratulate you on having done so much in the service of blessed God & in mine, and I also say to you congratulate the said Capuchin Religious on what they have done, & are doing to increase Christianity in that Kingdom, recommending them to continue, & telling them that they will not fail to receive comfort & reward for the Zeal & care with which they are fulfilling their obligations; & to the Queen I am sending word through the Secretary of State, and have wished to inform you of this so that you should know it.  Written in Lisbon, 24 november 1657.

The count of mira                                                        Queen

[142]    This letter was a comfort to the Missionaries, & a great encouragement to the Queen to continue with the Christianity she had begun, & it has always steadily increased thanks to our loving Lord & so that everyone should know of the conversion of this Queen, you have already (dear reader) heard of the vices, barbarities, cruelties & Ginga observances she practiced; now it remains to be seen how faithfully she observed them now so that he who has read of the past & reads about the present will know how tho give the supreme Being due thanks.

Before continuing [going on] I must warn the reader of the common saying that there is no rose without a thorn, no winter without summer, & no consolation without its opposite.  For the consolation which we received from the letter of the King of Portugal, seeing not only the increased of our Holy faith & the conversion of a Queen so evil [bad] as is known to everyone, but also seeing ourselves thanked by the King & offered his favour; the common enemy who always watches & never sleeps brought bitterness to the sweetness to avenge himself for his losses, & being anxious as to the enterprise we had begun, fearing more for the end than the beginning, as he ordinarily does not prevent it starting, but persevering; but to his dismay the opposite of what he hoped for happened, as you will see from the end of this narrative.  So not being able to prevent what had been started he tried to prevent it continuing; he implanted in the souls of a few masters of the same art & with the help of a few who remembered the fleshpots of Egypt some false rumours about the Capuchins and the Queen, accusing them of exhorting her to rebelling against the Portuguese, & following the Spanish party, & saying she had obeyed & therefore we were traitors to the Crown of Portugal.[31] These complaints were taken to the King & counsel, & as he suspected that the devil was their perpetrator as in fact he was, their evil [bad] will had no effect, but was discredited & you must know, dear reader, that the Court of Queen Ginga is a month’s journey from Loanda.  I say this so that you should be able to judge if the censure is true of a lie, along with other circumstances favourable to us.

[1]. Another version of this prayer is in Maravigliosa Conversione, pp. 101-103.

[2]. Apparently a reference to Chiay tuxi, her first husband whom she named king (see p. 33 above).  A second husband, also named king, called Ngola Tombo is cited on p. 40.  Sambegilla = Sambe njial is perhaps her third husband, who was not crowned but kept as main consort (Ngana inene).

[3]. 1657, Istorica Descrizione makes it 5 February 1657.  A more detailed version of these events is in da Gaeta, Maravigliosa Conversione pp.255-71 where D. Salvador was one of her slaves, but a general in her army, and her chief counsellors objected to the marriage.

[4]. a) Da Gaeta, Maravigliosa Conversione, pp. 121-3 gives his own version with 7 points requiring “idols” be destroyed, oath-taking end and canibalism cease.

[5]. February 1657.  He arrived in April 1656 and Joao IV died on 6 November 1656.

[6]. The governor was Luis Mendes de Souza Chicorro, who began his term in October 1654 and governed until 18 April 1658, Birmingham, Trade and Conflict, pp. 115-18.

[7]. Serafino da Cortona died on 7 September 1660, Leguzzamo, Descricao 2: 462.

[8]. Cavazzi produced a letter with quite a different content in Istorica Cescrizione, Book 4, no. 103 which he says he obtained fromthe archives of the Propaganda Fide in Rome, probably in 1670.  No such copy is there now, this copy may have come from archives in Luanga or from Njinga’s own archives.  A letter of similar content is found in Cadornega, Historia 2: 509.

[9]. Da Gaeta published a similar copy, Maravigliosa Conversione, p. 341.

[10]. the marks over this passage probably reflect Cavazzi’s revision of the text in 1667-68, after his return to Luanda.

[11]. These events took place in 1659.  On Cavazzi’s somewhat confused chronology here, in MS B and in Istorica Descrizione, see Leguzzano, Descricao 2: 250 note 88.

[12]. Infant mortality at this time in central Africa probably ran in the 250-350 per thousand range, so this statement would be no exaggeration, see John Thorton, “Demography and History in the Kingdom of Kongo, 1550-1750” Journal of African History 17 (1977):

[13]. An indication that Cavazzi was already a comfortable speaker of Kimbundu by 1659.  He probably began learning it in 1655 when he was posted to Mpungu a Ndongo and already mentions speaking to a woman in Kimbundu there in 1656, MSB, p. 457.

[14]. Ignacio da Valsasna, Milanese Capuchin lay brother, and skilled carpenter (who helped building Matamba’s stone church as well as running a carpentry shop in Matamba).  He arrived in Angola in 1654 and remained almost continuously in Matamba after 1656.

[15]. Cavazzi arrived back in Ambaca in January 1660.

[16]. The meaning of the marginal note is unclear.  1654 seems an appropriate date for Njinga’s decision to give up Jaga custome, while 1660 is appropriate for the change in courts mentioned in the pages that follow.

[17].  Serafino da Cortona or perhaps Antonio da Gaeta who replaced him there at just this time.

[18]. Leguzzano attempted to locate this place in 1959, and was shown a place reputed to be the old church and Njinga’s tomb, see Descricao 2:     and the map on the endpaper.

[19]. Probably Calixto Zelotes dos Reis Magros, see note 175 above.

[20]. He was apparently quite wealthy in slaves.  Note that he owned many when his goods were seized by Njinga a Mona in 1666, Cadornega, Historia 2: 223.

[21]. 122 x 42 feet = 33.50 x 10.92 meters.

[22]. Cavazzi probably reached Matamba in November 1660, after his unsuccessful mission to Kasanje.

[23]. Twenty-eight marks of silver = 6.4 kilograms.

[24]. Cambria = kambria

[25]. Monazambi = mona a nzambi, son of God.  The Kimbundu catechism of 1642 (and 1661) used this term, while it used Nzambi Mona to translate “Verbo Divino”.

[26]. Quaesma =

[27]. See Book 1, pp. 102-3 on seasons.  In this part of Central Africa the rains are not so frequent or heavy as to impede work perminantly, although they could be inconvenient.

[28]. Good Friday of 1661 fell on


[30]. Jiann Fernandez Viera = Joao Fernandes Vereira.  The original Portuguese version of this letter from the Arquivo Historica Ultramarino in Lisbon in Brasio, Monumenta 12: 145 differs somewhat.