Book 3, Chapter 2

How Giaga Cassange was baptised with the name of Don Pasquale, and of a Sacrifice which he made after being baptised   Chapter II

In the year of grace MDCLV after our arrival at the City of Angola i. Loanda in the Kingdom of Dongho, the Lord Governor Don Ludovico di Suosa[1] sent a Captain with the title ambassador[2] to the Province of Gangella in this Kingdom of Matamba where lived the Giaga Cassange with his army consisting of atrocious people, who stole for their living, for such are all the armies which call themselves Giaghi, because it was not only a question of the ransom of slaves who had fled from the Portuguese, but also see if they could remove that barbarian from that diabolical life he was leading with his followers, and for the first and second purpose they sent a Captain, a son of the soil, experienced in the knowledge of the language and to execute the second purpose asked Father Serafino da Cortona, Prefect of the mission to the Kingdom of Dongo and Matambe, for a monk of his order, and for this enterprise was destined Father Antonio da Serrauezza[3] of the Province of Tuscany, a monk of particular talents, and a theologian; when they had both had the necessary dispatches they left Massangano for Embaca, a journey of eight days, where they arrived in good health.  Embaca is a fortress on the frontier of the Kingdom of Matamba and the above-named Provinces.  They were courteously received by its Captain, and in short sent on their journey with the necessary provision of victuals and an escort of people as they had to walk for eighteen days, mostly through deserted regions.  They therefore left Embaca, and after the above-mentioned time came in sight of the Giaga’s army, and [8] assuming that he would not wish the Father to enter his army because of the unaccustomed sight of his habit [added: and because of knowing that he had … contrary to their laws, rites and …] and for having asked for a Priest who was a son and native of the land from some Portuguese merchants who ordinarily trade with his army; he complied with everything, and received them courteously and assigned adequate lodgings for all: [marginal: as soon as he had taken possession of the lodgings the Father went out and explored the region, in front of the army with a chain round his neck flagellating himself with it in order to lead the people to change their lives for the better, but they laughed at this sacred action of the Father and considered him to be unwell, also because he was so poor and did not keep even one slave in his service, and with this he returned to his new house learning to look after himself, because Evangelical ministry in pagan hands does not last, and not does reputation, especially in the beginning, starting with that which claims to end so that respect in progress for Christianity should not be lost etc]  After resting from the journey and its trials which were not few, the Giaga sent a petition to the Ambassador for all the officers of the army to gather together.  When they had done so the Ambassador explained his embassy from his Governor and General and having done so in terms of worldly interest, he also dealt with what applies to the soul explaining how the Capuchin Priest was there for that purpose, then the Father explained not the embassy of the earthly Governor but of the one from Heaven, who died on the Cross to redeem our souls, and withdraw them from slavery to Satan, and the barbarian listened attentively to the Father’s words, and even supposing that he was very far from changing for the better and from a new law, he answered courteously that even though he did not wish to become a Christian, nor to embrace the Catholic faith, he was willing for newborn children to be baptised if they had teeth, according to their barbarous custom as you will have noticed in the Chapter [blank][4] in the first book where this subject is dealt with, and this was not a little favour but a great one, even though there were few to open the way to the Christian faith.

The Father began to exercise his good office, [added: he built a Church …] and as a watchful Pastor he baptised the little children and exhorted the adults, and Cassange their head, to leave that inhuman life with its rites, laws, customs and diabolical ceremonies, and convert themselves to our Holy Catholic faith; but however many public and private exhortations he made, he could never soften the hard heart of the Giaga.  The Father felt great pain seeing the obstinacy of this barbarian, and his perseverance in their diabolical low, and did not fail to send humble prayers to divine Mercy for the conversion of this barbarian accompanying his prayers with the mortifications of fasting and discipline; but all his labour was in vain [9] because he always showed hardness and obstinacy; finally  seeing himself continually pursued with exhortations not only from the priest but from the Ambassador too he determined to gratify them both by becoming a Christian; the joy of the Father and Ambassador cannot be believed, for they believed his resolution to be a certainty, not regarding that Apostolic saying which exhorts us to believe all spirits, but to test whether they are from God or from the devil before believing them; it was not long before he showed the truth of that saying of Seneca that false things cannot last long, without returning to what they were at first, and the wolf can wear sheep’s clothing but not go on doing so because they are not his own clothes, he is forced to put them down and take up his true wolf’s nature again.  The Father proposed the following Articles to Cassange. [marg. they are noted in Chapter 3.][5]

The Father began to catechise the neophyte in the things pertaining to our Holy Catholic faith, he appeared to gratify him in everything and to believe what the Father taught him, finally after having spent many days in this exercise and holding his conversion to be genuine, and when he had confessed his belief in what our Holy Mother Church teaches, he baptised him in the year MDCLVII on the ninth day of July with the name of D. Pasquale and the Father was very joyous at this good success because he had gained this soul for God, and taken it from the power of the devil. [marg. crossed out:  he has the Articles noted at the end.]  After baptising Cassange with the Ambassador and General as witnesses, the Father gave notice of this conversion to the above-named Governor who … noted the following letter.  The new Christian made great promises, but without putting them into practice, because it was a wolf’s conversion, false and not true, as you shall hear, and the first evidence of this truth was that Captain Lorenzo d’Aragone, a relation of the new Christian[6] on the female side presented himself, and was present at the promise, and visited him the day after he was baptised, and found him at table eating a human hand, and seeing how he was already betraying his obligations rebuked him for the sin he had committed, and he boldly answered that he had only been baptised to please the Father and the Ambassador, and that he was not going to abandon the ancient custom of his ancestors, and he has confirmed the same several times in the presence of many people, including priests.  The Father remained to work uselessly with Cassange until the year 1658 for the salvation of souls [10] but with little fruit because of their hardness and obstinacy; so while he was labouring like a good workman in the Lord’s vineyard he was called by his Superior who lived in Massangano where after many days he arrived, not without having undergone many trials on the journey most of which was through woods and deserts.[7] Before leaving the army, the Giaga had to change his situation because of the death of his Father and Lord[8] and before leaving he obtained his blessing.  The Father was comforted thinking this was all a spiritual matter and left.  The Giaga was happier because of the departure of the Father, than  because of the benediction for his intention, for this new Christian and true Giaga had to observe two precepts, obey two laws or obligations as we should say, and both ordered him, before changing his situation and making a new house, to make a sacrifice, these two obligations were united and he had to satisfy both according to the Giaga fashion; but not according to the Christian law which he had taken on but rejected and returned to his former observances, and to fulfil these he prepared 184 men and women to offer not to blessed God in some pious work like a Christian, but like a rebel to give their souls to the devil, and their bodies to his Father and Lord Calunga Cassange; the barbarian gave orders that the place of sacrifice should be prepared according to their custom, and to show the zeal he felt in the observance of the diabolical laws, he ordered instant diligence.  The minister delegated to perform the sacrifice fulfilled his office with all the necessary preparations and precautions, as you have heard in the treatise on the General Sacrifice that is to say that circle of posts, flags, and in a hollow in the middle, the seat of the Lord.[9] They led the Ambassador there with the victims who were to be killed in the sacrifice; the posts were all adorned with various pieces of silk, weapons, vases full of various liquors from Ethiopia and Europe.  The day destined to this horrendous spectacle arrived, and the assigned victims were given a great deal to eat and drink, and curiously dressed so that they should go satiated and comforted to the feast.  The signal was given, military music was played not sadly and sorrowfully but with joy and jubilation as if they were going to a carnival and everyone was making merry; among the victims who were to serve in this Sacrifice was a Lord, a prisoner of war, with his two small children, who was to lead them, and he was gorgeously dressed as so were his sons, and they were accompanied by various military musical instruments, and went to the destined place and as comforters the cruel ministers showed them the cutting swords, knives and daggers, think what comfort that was to the poor wretches, and on arrival at the place of Sacrifice Cassange the evil Christian entered the circle, and signed to that Lord to enter the seat which was to be the last resting-place of his mortal life, and to the two children to place themselves in front of their Father; to those innocent little lambs was hidden what to their Father was manifest, they thought all was joy and feasting; kneeling before that Lord Cassange offered up those victims for his Father and Lord praying him to accept them although they were few in number, but many in his wishes, and that he would consider him a true observer of their laws, and imitator of their example, promising he would sacrifice all the live men he would take in future wars.  Then he turned to speak to the Lord who had ascended saying that he wished to lead those victims to his predecessor, and at this tragic news the Father to turned to his two children saying “O unfortunate ones, O unfortunate children who today must finish your lives with me your Father”, and at these loving words those two little doves began to weep together with floods of tears, but the barbarous Cassange raising his arm holding a cutting sword cut his head from his shoulders, so that in an instant he lost body and soul, then one of the children was killed by a blow from one of the ministers, and when the other saw his Father and brother dead he threw himself on their dead bodies, on to the trunk from which [12] they cut the head off, and at once they began killing the victims who were outside the posts, and those inhuman ministers were so hot with human blood and desirous of shedding it that they hardly noticed the prepared victims and would have killed many who were not destined to die of they had not saved themselves by flight; such was the grim tragedy turned into a Giaga Ethiopic comedy.

Among the victims there was a woman with a small child asleep at her breast and the minister came to her, and with a savage blow cut her head in half; suddenly a torrent of blood came out and falling on the sleeping child awakened him, and while he fixed his loving eyes on his mother’s face he was killed by a savage blow, and both fell to the ground; let everyone marvel at the case, examine the causes, and give sentence at leisure.  They killed victims to the number of 184 but did not exhaust the great desire they felt to shed human blood and if possible extinguish human propagation, and finally they joined these dead bodies together and made a pile of them placing on top that of the Lord and in his body they planted the flag as Captain of everyone, and feeling happy and joyful returned to their quilombo as if they had committed a heroic action, nor did the savage and cruel deeds of this barbarian stop there, because every day he invented new savageries.

This barbarian has as well as his legitimate wife over 200 concubines, and members of his Court and some white practitioners have assured me that he lives in concubinage with five sisters without scruple or blushing, and on being rebuked answered that it was not prohibited under their laws.  It is commonly said, and confirmed by his own sons, that he eats human flesh, and in the year 1660[10] he was forbidden by his doctor to eat it because of the indispositions he suffered; he keeps people to be fattened for his table, keeps officials who kill them,  and women who cook human flesh, and walking through his army one can confirm the truth of this fact without witness because one can see their heads grown white from the fire which is a spectacle to see, a horror to hear, a torture to think of that in the world [13] there should be such people, which is a wonder, yet this interior Ethiopia is full of them.

Now we return to that Father I mentioned who having arrived in Massangano wrote to the Father how he had reached that place, and the Governor answered him with the following letter.  He spoke to his Superior who after a few days sent him back to Cassange, the said Father hurried back because of his zeal to save those souls.  [added: as the Governor demonstrated that he was to return to the place]  Therefore the Father turned round and went back along that difficult road,  reached the new place, and where he thought he would find Seraphim found devils in human shape; firstly he found how they had made the sacrifice I have described, and other diabolical ceremonies and he also found many people greatly differing and changed from what they were outwardly, and Cassange advanced so much that he made his hidden savageries and crimes public, to such an extent that their reputation even reached the Portuguese in their Cities and Seats of Government; it came to the notice of Father Antonio Romano who had remained Superior of the mission after the departure of the Prefect Father Serafino da Cortona, and he determined to take the said Father and send him to the Court of Queen Ginga where Christianity was making progress and to this end sent Brother Giunipero da Sam Severino to Cassange.[11]

[1]. Luis Martino de Sousa Chicorro arrived in Luanda in November 1654.

[2]. Antonio Rodrigues Machado according to Cadornega, Historia 2: 18, 180.  Elsewhere, Biblioteca Publica da Evora, Codice “Vite dei Cappuccini morte… 1677”, Cavazzi calls him Joao Antonio Rodrigues Machado, p. 146.

[3]. Antonio da Serravezza arrived in Angola in November 1654 and wrote his own account of these events in Archivio Provinciale dei Cappuccini, Toscana, Missioni Estere, “Ragguaglio”.

[4]. Chapter 2 of Book 1.

[5]. Correct cross reference.

[6]. Lourenco de Aragao was, according to Cavazzi in Istorica Descizione, Book 7, no. 40 a relative of Kasanje and the son of a New Christian (descendent of the Jews forced to convert to Christianity in the sixteenth century) mother.  On p. 21 below Cavazzi calls him a “black Christian”.

[7]. Serravezza returned to Massangano in October, 1657, Istorica Descrizione, Book 7, no. 44.

[8]. These seem to suggest that Ngonga had only redently become Kasanje.

[9]. This sacrifice is described in detail in Book 1, pp. 71-3.

[10]. Cavazzi was living in Cassange for a part of 1660, so this was probably an eyewitness account.

[11]. Antonio Romano = Antonio da Gaeta, prefect 1658-62.  Fra Giunipero da San Severino, Capuchin lay brother, arrived in Kingo in 1651 and went to Luanda, 1652.  He continued in Massangano until 1659 when he went to Kasanje, but returned to Massangano before reaching there.  He returned to Italy in 1660, Leguzzano, Descricao 2: 443-4.