Procurators, religious orders and cultural circulation in the Early Modern Portuguese Empire: printed works, images (and relics) from Japan in António Cardim’s journey to Rome (1644-1646)*

Federico Palomo1


This study looks at different aspects pertaining to the circulation of texts, images, and objects in the context of the Early Modern Iberian empires. More specifically, it examines the functions of the procurators of religious orders, who travelled to Europe from the edges of the empires and assumed a privileged role connecting Europe with the Asian, African and American territories, in terms of written, visual and material culture. To this end, the study analyzes the Jesuit António Francisco Cardim’s expedition from Macau, in the furthest reaches of the Portuguese Empire, to Lisbon and Rome during the 1640s. This analysis seeks to understand the strategies through which the writings, images, and relics of the Martyrs of Japan that he carried with him served as instruments to make the realities of Japan and Japanese Christianity present in metropolitan and/or Roman environments.


Cultural circulation, procurators, António Cardim, Martyrs of Japan, seventeenth century.


Este trabalho explora alguns aspectos relacionados com a circulação de textos, imagens e objectos no contexto dos impérios ibéricos da Idade Moderna. Em particular, examina o papel que, a tal efeito, desempenharam os procuradores das ordens religiosas, que se deslocavam até a Europa desde os confins imperiais, assumindo uma posição privilegiada à hora de conectar, desde o plano da cultura escrita, visual e material, o mundo europeu e os espaços asiáticos, africanos e americanos. Neste sentido, a figura do jesuíta António Francisco Cardim e a viagem que, desde Macau, na fronteira do império asiático português, fez até Lisboa e Roma durante a década de 1640, permitem observar estratégias nas quais os escritos, as imagens e as relíquias dos mártires do Japão que levou consigo serviram de instrumentos para tornar presente nos contextos metropolitanos e/ou romanos uma realidade localizada no outro lado do planeta.


Circulação cultural, procuradores religiosos, António Cardim, mártires do Japão, século XVII.

This study examines the role which procurators of religious orders, and friars who travelled to Europe from the furthest reaches of the Spanish and Portuguese empires, played in the circulation of texts, images and other material goods. It analyzes how, alongside other actors, they contributed to the dissemination, appropriation and consumption of those goods around the planet, and thereby assumed a privileged role in connecting Europe with Asian, African and American territories, in terms of written, visual and material culture. This study analyzes the figure of António Francisco Cardim and the editorial and artistic strategies which he developed over the course of his expedition to Rome between 1644 and 1646. Named as Jesuit procurator for the province of Japan in 1638, he travelled from Macau, at the edge of the Portuguese Empire’s Asian territories, to Lisbon and soon after to Rome. While in Europe, he carried out discreet but significant editorial activities with a clearly propagandistic tone, disseminating printed copies of several of his own writings about the Martyrs of Japan. As will be shown, the most notable is a thick quarto volume, Elogios or Fasciculus e Iapponicis Floribus (Cardim, 1646a), in which, alongside the Lives of the Jesuits who had been martyred in Japan, Cardim included a total of 87 engravings.2

The circulation of texts, images, knowledge, and objects across different parts of the Early Modern world is a field of research which has been of increasing interest to historians of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Without pretending to examine in detail the different historiographical questions about the dynamics concerning this phenomenon, it is important to point out the pioneering role of historians of art and material culture in this field. Alongside the so-called “visual turn” and “material turn,” which served as a foundation for many of the initial studies on conspicuous consumption and collecting, in recent years a global historical perspective has become more prominent, highlighting the importance of the circulation of luxury objects and artworks, but also other artifacts and natural products, in the processes of cultural exchange that occurred across the world during the Early Modern period, connecting places and facilitating the circulation of practices and knowledge. In this sense, as more Eurocentric conceptions have been left behind, there has been growing interest in reconstructing these objects’ trajectories, capturing the “global lives of things,” focusing on the lands they crossed, the transformations they underwent, and the different meanings and uses attributed to them at different times and in different places (Garritsen and Riello, 2016; North, 2012).3 Among many areas of interest, researchers have also been keen to place importance on the meaning of the circulation of books and written texts between different parts of the known world (Rueda, 2012; González Sánchez, 2007; Loureiro, 2007), contributing to the construction of European empires and, above all, to the development of (new) knowledge about the world. The very circulation of such knowledge—as well as the people and practices that helped to build it up—has transformed the viewpoint of the history of science which is no longer framed in strictly European terms or in terms based on the classical paradigm of modern science (Romano, 2014a). It has also framed the agenda of the recent historiography on religious missions (Castelnau et al, 2011; Wilde, 2011), which started decades ago with research on the dynamics resulting from the activities carried out by Catholic missionaries across the world.

Many of the studies adopting such approaches have emphasized the role played by collectors, merchants, and other agents in the circulation and consumption of objects, texts, images, and so on, often playing the part of cultural intermediaries (Andretta et al, 2015). In this respect, it is fitting to look more closely at the role played by the procurators of religious orders in these processes. These procurators have rarely merited much attention from researchers; in the case of the Jesuits, existing studies have looked at those in Seville and Lisbon who were involved in missions to the Indies (Zubillaga, 2001; García Galán, 1995; Wicki, 1971). In part, research has also explored the business of those procurators who carried out their functions in loco, that is, in the college or province to which they belonged, and has highlighted the economic and material dimensions surrounding their activity, as they had to supervise the accounting of houses, colleges, and possessions, as well as the purchase of goods and, usually, provisions (Echarte, 2001; Alden, 1996: 298-318). It is only in recent times that research has appreciated their role in joining up the networks which the Society developed around the world, and through which medicinal plants, textiles, ornaments, and artworks were circulated, along with books, news and instructions, and funds which were transferred in gold and money or in the form of loans, donations and so on (Martínez Serna, 2009).

There were, however, other forms of procuration. When analyzing the experience—little-known but common—of friars and clerics who travelled from the Indies to Europe, following most of the missionaries’ routes in reverse (Rubial García, 2012; Jeanne, 2013; Xavier, 2014), we find that often they were subjects—many of them born in colonial lands—who actually moved to Europe as procurators of their respective provinces and communities. Their relatively short journeys tended to be for well-defined objectives which required their presence in the royal court, among the Order’s superiors on the Peninsula, or before the Roman authorities. The trips could be made for altruistic reasons—representing the cause of the indigenous people to the royal authorities, for example—but also for reasons related to the interests of their religious institute and, especially, the province they represented: from participating in the Order’s general congregations to requesting autonomy, from addressing conflict between criollos/casados and European settlers to intervening in legal conflicts with bishops, and from recruitment drives to promoting beatification processes or to seeking money for evangelization purposes, to name just a few (Rubial García, 2012).

Together with these matters, the procurators’ presence in the Old World also provided an opportunity to tend to other concerns. Many participated in the informal trafficking of objects, returning to the colonies with devotional and artistic objects which were commissioned by their own institutions or by individuals. They spent some of their time acquiring medals, Agnus Dei, rosaries, and smaller devotional pieces (which they could buy in bulk) in European cities, if possible in Rome, and also books, reliquaries, religious paintings, prints, and other artworks which they then sent, or took with them, to their home provinces, where they were held in very high esteem (Alcalá, 2007).

Their role in the circulation of these types of products to American, Asian, and African lands is indisputable; but it is also important to question the place that these procurators occupied in what we could call a “reverse circulation,” from the edges of the empires towards the European world. Which objects, images and writings did they carry with them, and what and who were they intended for? How did the friars use them, and what role did they play in their strategies? What instruments were deployed to distribute them around Europe, and what value was attached to them? What were their meanings? In short, how did those with first-hand experience of colonial life succeed, through these objects, in making the colonial and missionary life present in metropolitan contexts, and in places like Rome, which became ever more central to the missionary world as the seventeenth century progressed?

We can explore some of these questions through an analysis of the Jesuit António Cardim’s procuration and the propagandistic strategies he deployed over the course of his time in Rome. The next section will consider the context which surrounded Cardim’s voyage, touching briefly on the situation at the time and the matters which led him to travel to Europe. We will then examine his editorial activity over these years, situating it within his strategies as a procurator and emphasizing the importance he placed on printed works and images. Finally, an analysis of the prints which accompanied Fasciculus will help us to understand Cardim’s role in a complex game of appropriations, in which elements arising from pictorial and (already) hybrid culture, developed in the Portuguese Asian context, were incorporated into European artistic endeavors.

From necessity to propaganda: António Cardim’s journey to Rome

António Cardim was born in Viana do Alentejo in 1596 into a family which had developed close ties with the Jesuits during the second half of the sixteenth century. His uncle, Fernão Cardim (c. 1548-1625), was a key figure in the Jesuit province of Brazil; his brother, João Cardim (1585-1615), earned a reputation as a holy man and as a model novice and student, a reputation which only grew stronger after his premature death.4 After entering the Order in 1611, shortly after his fifteenth birthday, António Cardim set sail for the Indian Ocean in 1618. He spent his first years in Asia in Goa, where he completed his studies in philosophy and theology. In the 1620s, he was sent to the Jesuit College in Macau, the headquarters of the Jesuit province of Japan (which included territories beyond the Japanese Archipelago). Cardim carried out his missionary activity in the kingdoms of Siam and Tonkin between the late 1620s and early 1630s. Upon returning to Macau, as well as being master of the novices and procurator in loco of the province, he carried out governance duties for the Order, as Rector of the College of São Paulo (1632-1636). He also served as Commissary of the Inquisition, until he was sent to Rome in 1638 (Franco, 1714: 485-491).

His presence in Macau coincided with a particularly complex period for the Portuguese enclave, whose place in the political and commercial context of the region was under extreme pressure. The arrival of new European actors diminished the central role which the Portuguese had played for decades in the trade between China and Japan. The Spanish, based in Manila, were active participants in the region’s commercial networks from the end of the sixteenth century onwards (Tremml-Werner, 2015). The Dutch became ever more assertive in the first decades of the seventeenth century and posed a serious threat to the Portuguese. Added to this were the growing difficulties which the Japanese powers began to impose upon Portuguese tradesmen in Japanese ports, culminating in the complete closure of all ports in this country to the Portuguese and Spanish in 1639, while also putting those operating in places like Canton in jeopardy. The instability within the Ming Empire itself, from the 1620s onwards, also affected relations between the Portuguese in Macau and the Chinese authorities. Tensions mounted even further after the Manchurians took Peking in 1644, and during the ensuing period of political instability, which lasted until the dynasty consolidated its power in the 1670s. The complexity of the situation had continuous effects on the Jesuit presence in this part of the world: the expulsion of Christian missionaries from Japan in 1614 was probably the most significant event, as it marked the beginning of the end of a mission that had achieved considerable renown both inside and outside Europe. Macau and Manila took in hundreds of missionaries who found themselves expelled from the Japanese Archipelago, and became particularly sensitive to the news arriving from Japan, highlighting the challenges facing a mission whose previous greatness had now become the story of the persecution of the European missionaries and their acolytes. For the Jesuits, the mission in Japan became an undertaking akin to their mission in England: one that was subject to political hostility and that was kept alive by a handful of missionaries forced to act covertly (Boxer, 1951; Elison, 1988; Harrington, 1993; Higashibaba, 2001; Paramore, 2009; Brockey, 2014: 375-410). The repression worsened and the number of death sentences increased, including mass executions in 1619, 1622, 1623, and 1638. The evangelization efforts in the Japanese Archipelago ended up acquiring a definite martyrial dimension, which was confirmed and strengthened by the beatification, between 1627 and 1629, of the 26 friars who had been crucified in Nagasaki in 1597. A war of (written) words between religious orders ensued, centered on the 26 martyrs and other missionaries who had suffered a similar fate after 1614; this dispute was in some ways a continuation of old ones, but these were now supplemented and amplified by the circulation of innumerable texts and images. Through these, the Jesuits and Franciscans, along with other orders (to a lesser extent), tried to capitalize upon the renown gained through martyrdom (Palomo, 2014: 174-178; Gomez-Géraud, 2003).

As they abandoned all hope of re-establishing Christianity in the Japanese Archipelago, the Jesuits faced an increasingly difficult challenge in sustaining the province of Japan’s financial status, and even in guaranteeing its very existence. Previously, finances had relied on the Society’s active participation in the trade between Japan and China (Boxer, 1951: 91-136; Alden, 1996: 528-550). When this was cut off, the Jesuits partly compensated for the financial shortfall by trading with the kingdoms of South East Asia, in Tonkin, Siam and Cochin China (Brockey, 2014: 326-374). The mission in China, which had become a vice-province in 1619, exploited the Ming Empire’s political instability in order to expand a little, but this only increased the need for money and finance (Brockey, 2007: 92-107). The Jesuits in the vice-province of China made increasing demands for resources from the province of Japan, believing that they were in no short supply, and were intent on gaining institutional recognition from Rome; both of these factors only heightened the tensions in Macau itself between the Jesuits linked to the Chinese mission and those in the province of Japan.

In this context, António Cardim’s period as procurator almost coincided with that of his co-religionist Álvaro Semedo, who had first moved to Lisbon in 1636, where he represented the Jesuits in China, and then later moved to Rome, where he remained until 1644. During the course of his travels, Semedo sought to strengthen the vice-province’s position, publicizing the evangelization efforts in China and attempting to raise funds for it (Sebes, 2001; Brockey, 2007: 231-232). It is not impossible, in fact, that these two Jesuits crossed paths in Portugal, before Cardim began his journey to Rome, between 1644 and 1646. As procurator of the province of Japan, Cardim took part in the Order’s General Congregation in 1645, at which Vincenzo Caraffa was chosen as Mutio Vitelleschi’s successor. The Portuguese Jesuits Jerónimo Vogado, Bento de Sequeira, António Mascarenhas, and the future assistant of Portugal, Nuno da Cunha, were also in attendance, along with his predecessor João de Matos, both of whom were central to Dom João IV’s diplomatic efforts in Rome (Rodrigues, 1931-1950: III (2), 139).

But it was not the General Congregation that brought Cardim to Rome. We can deduce some of his concerns through his correspondence with António Colaço, who, despite the Bragança revolt in 1640, continued as the procurator of the Portuguese Jesuits at the Court of Philip IV.5 In reality, Cardim was pursuing similar goals to those which had led Sebastião Vieira, also the procurator of the Jesuits in Japan, to Rome in 1623 (Brockey, 2014: 389-390). One important aspect of Cardim’s work with the Roman authorities was related to economic matters. As has been pointed out, the expulsion from the Japanese Archipelago placed the Jesuit province of Japan in a tricky position. General Vitelleschi himself, in a letter to Colaço, refers to the “grande aperto e necessidade” (“great hardship and need”) which the province was suffering “com a falta do comercio” (“with the lack of trade”). Therefore he urged the Jesuit procurator to ensure he collected a pension of 4,000 escudos, which was due to the province from the apostolic nunciature at the court of the Catholic king.6 Granted by Pope Gregory XIII to finance the missions in Japan, this pension was subject to confirmation from the Pope and constituted an essential source of income for the province, although, in practice, it had not always been used for the province’s benefit. In correspondence with Colaço, both Vitteleschi and Cardim insisted on the need to secure the funds, even indicating how, and through whom, he should send the money to ensure its safe passage to Lisbon and then Macau.7

Economic matters were, in fact, given particular importance in Cardim’s report Pro Provincia Japponica, which he wrote in 1646 (Cardim, 1975). Addressed to the Father General of the Order, he recorded all the income relating to the Jesuits in Japan; the total, he wrote, was 11,290 escudos, of which only 4,590 escudos were regularly received (Cardim, 1975: 1626-1628). However, beyond these financial problems, the report also discussed the demands of the Jesuits to establish an autonomous province in China, rather than to remain as a vice-province, and to establish their base at the College of Macau. In previous years, the mission in China had had a very vocal defender in Rome, Álvaro Semedo, who had branded the province of Japan as otiose and rich, alongside other arguments (Cardim, 1975: 1615-1617).

In his account, Cardim refuted these arguments one by one. He argued that the College of Macau, despite its location on the Chinese coast, should remain linked to the province of Japan, just as the English Jesuits had establishments in Flanders. To those who questioned the very existence of the province, given that Christianity had almost completely disappeared from the Japanese Archipelago, Cardim said that there were still a few thousand secret believers who used their houses as churches, as the first Christians had done. Furthermore, he underlined the importance of the missions in Tonkin, Laos and Cochin China. Not only had they opened the province of Japan to new lands, but they had also recruited more neophytes, he argued, than the Jesuits had had in China since the beginning of their apostolic mission. Finally, he argued that breaking up the province of Japan was no less than an affront to Francis Xavier, the founder of the mission, and to the memory of the Jesuits who had died there for their Christian faith (Cardim, 1975: 1617-1620).

Bringing up the subject of the martyrs was no trivial matter. Their cause constituted a powerful argument, and having some of them recognized by the Church as martyrs was a central element of Cardim’s tenure as procurator and of the strategies which he enacted at the time. The matter could not be separated from economic or institutional questions. Furthermore, the beatification (in 1627 and 1629) of the friars executed in Nagasaki encouraged the Jesuits, Franciscans and other religious congregations to fight for new causes. Cardim himself, while in Macau, had promoted some of the investigative trials which had to be carried out by episcopal authorities before any cause could be taken to the papal authorities.8

However, Rome required Cardim to navigate far more complex paths through the Curia’s bureaucracy and administration; he had to try to garner support not only in institutions like the Sacred Congregation of Rites, but also in the Congregation of the Inquisition and, to a lesser extent, the Roman Rota. Cardinals, secretaries, promoters, commissaries from the Inquisition, auditors, and other officials linked to these authorities, all became involved, to a greater or lesser extent, at different times in a process which, since the Council of Trent and (even more so) after Urban VIII’s reforms (1625-1634), had become more protracted and tightly controlled in an attempt to guarantee the power of Rome, and the Roman Inquisition, in defining saintliness and its recognition within the Catholic world (Gotor, 2004).

In this respect, Cardim had some success. At the very least, he managed to advance the case of Carlo Spínola and his companions, who had been killed in 1622, at the Congregation of Rites.9 At the same time, he attempted to promote the causes of Marcello Matrilli and Sebastião Vieira. He not only tried to gain the favor of the members of the Congregation of Rites, many of whose cardinals were also members of the Congregation of the Inquisition, but also sought support from other institutions and sources of power, including secular figures beyond the Roman world (such as the Spanish king), who could play an active supportive role in negotiations with the papal authorities.10 The composition of narratives about the martyrs was also very relevant to Cardim’s strategy; in 1644, the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith received a manuscript of a report, in which Cardim recounted the martyrdom of the four Portuguese ambassadors who had been executed alongside 51 other Christians in Nagasaki in 1640.11 The facts told in the account, which had already been circulated outside Italy, were discussed in one of the Roman consistory’s general meetings at the request of Cardinal Cesare Facchinetti, an old nuncio at the Madrid court. Cardim’s work was eventually sent on to the Congregation of Rites.12

“In the view of so many martyrs”: António Cardim’s publishing activity

Beyond manuscript texts, Cardim made considerable use of printed works to pursue his goals. In the nearly ten years he spent in Europe, between Lisbon and Rome, he undertook several publishing projects, and was responsible for the circulation of printed pamphlets and other texts, in Latin, Italian, and Portuguese, about the mission in Japan and its martyrs. He contributed to a genre of literature about the Japanese world, perceived as an exotic and fascinating region, which had aroused European readers’ interest since the sixteenth century. Along with the consumption of fans, lacquers and screens, there was a massive increase in the number of editions of letters, histories, and treatises which described Japan, and which, at the same time, recounted the progress of the evangelization efforts there. In the seventeenth century, due to the ongoing persecution of Christians in Japan, the interest and expectations which this literature had sparked rapidly developed into a taste for Lives, narratives, catalogues, and images which focused on martyrdom. In this sense, writings on Japan, and Cardim’s texts in particular, formed part of a narrative and visual tradition which had been feeding ideals about martyrdom, in both the Protestant and the Catholic worlds, since the mid-sixteenth century. Often arising from the heat of confessional controversies, the number of books, prints, paintings, and objects (such as relics) relating to those who had given their life for their faith multiplied. Martyrs began to play an important role in the formation of religious and even territorial identities (Vincent-Cassy, 2011; Lestringant, 2004; Lestringant and Moreau, 2003; Gregory, 1999).

Already in 1643, before moving to Rome, Cardim published a first printed work, dedicated to Dom João IV of Bragança. This text included the aforementioned Relação of the death of the four Portuguese ambassadors (Cardim, 1643a), and was quite successful, being translated in that same year into French and Latin, and then subsequently republished in Rouen, Lille and Ingolstadt. These new editions were based on the Portuguese one and were sponsored by local Jesuits (Cardim, 1643b; Cardim, 1643c; Cardim 1644). Cardim himself promoted a new Latin version in Rome in 1646, and he included it in the Lisbon edition of his Elogios in 1650 (Cardim, 1646b; Cardim, 1650).

During his journey to Rome, he also carried out a more personal project, commissioning a printed version of the Vita of his brother João Cardim, which had been written in Latin by the Flemish Jesuit Philippe Alegambe (Alegambe, 1645). But, as noted, the majority of his publishing work centered on texts about Christianity in Japan and the Martyrs of Japan. In 1645, he commissioned the translation into Italian and the printing of the lengthy Relatione della Provincia del Giappone, which he himself had written. Like the annual letters, it recounted the activities of the Jesuits in the different parts of the Society’s Japanese province. Along with a detailed description of the catastrophes that Christianity underwent in Japan, Cardim added news about Macau and the missions in Tonkin, Cochin China, Laos, Siam, and the island of Hainan. He thus outlined a geography which, in the light of the controversies with the Jesuits in China, seems to have been highly intentional. This reinforced the missionary character of a province whose natural territory was not being restricted (to a “martyrial” Japan), but was in fact expanding (to other promised lands) (Cardim, 1645a). In the prologue to the reader, Cardim not only evoked the Jesuits who had been martyred in the enterprise in Japan; he also recalled that the Jesuit province of Japan was far more than the Archipelago after which it was named. Employing arguments similar to the ones used in the Informatio pro Provincia Japponica, he argued that this new geography did not mean that the province could not keep its original name, as, for example, the province of Venice had done (Cardim, 1645a: Al lettore. Preliminaries, unnumbered pages). It is possible that, in his mind, the Relatione needed to counteract the propagandistic claims of Álvaro Semedo’s work about China, which had been published just two years earlier. After it had been printed in Spanish with the title Imperio de la China i cultura evangelica en él (Madrid, 1642), Semedo commissioned a new edition from Hermann Scheus’ press in Rome in 1643, translated into Italian with the title Rellatione della Grande Monarchia della Cina. It then went on to be printed again in Italian (Rome, 1653), French (Paris, 1645; Lyon, 1667), and English (London, 1655).

The Roman edition of the Relatione, which Cardim dedicated to the recently-elected Pope Innocence X, was a small octavo volume, 160 pages long, printed at the workshop of the Roman printer Andrea Fei. Like the opuscule he had printed in Lisbon, this work was also printed in further editions, which show that it was quickly and widely received within European Jesuit circles. Two other editions were published in the same year just in Italy alone, with the same title: the first was produced at the ducal press of Via Condotta (Florence), and the second in that of Filippo Ghisolfi (Milan), sponsored by Giovanni Battista Fedeli. In Tournai (Flanders), a French version was published in 1645 at the workshop of Adrien Quingué, translated from the Roman edition by the Jesuit François Lahier (Cardim, 1645b). The translation, revised by another Jesuit, Jacques de Machault, was printed in yet another edition the following year at the Parisian press of Mathurin and Jean Henault, being published alongside another piece about the province of Malabar and dedicated by Machault himself to the Archbishop of Tours, Victor Le Bourtillier (Cardim, 1646d).

However, Cardim’s main publishing project during his journey to Rome was the production of three texts in Latin whose main aim was to underline the importance of martyrdom at the mission in Japan. Printed at the workshop of the Heirs of Corbelletti, all three were circulated in one quarto volume, although each had its own imprint. On the one hand, this comprised a new edition of Cardim’s text on the death of the four Portuguese ambassadors, now translated into Latin by Cardim himself and published under the title Mors felicissima quatuor legatorum Lusitanorum et sociorum quos Japponiae Imperator occidit (Cardim, 1646c). But it also included a new 80-page pamphlet, the Catalogus regularium, et secularium, a sort of register in which he recorded all the religious and secular people who had died for their faith in Japanese lands (Cardim 1646b). Finally, it involved a broader initiative from an editorial point of view, printing, under the title Fasciculus e Iaponnicis Floribus, the Latin translation of another of Cardim’s texts, which was already known at the time: the so-called Elogios. These, as we shall see, had previously circulated in manuscript form and, following the model of a menologia, brought together the Lives of the Jesuits—Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, but also Japanese—who had been martyred since the beginning of the missionary enterprise in Japan. As has already been noted, the majority of copies of the Roman edition, included 87 chalcographic engravings and a map of the Japanese Archipelago (Cardim, 1646a).13 Before returning to Macau, Cardim even ordered a new joint edition in Portuguese, with just one imprint, of the three previous texts. The new volume, printed at the workshop of Manuel da Silva in Lisbon, in 1650, reproduced, from the same plates, the images from the Roman edition of the Elogios (Cardim, 1650).

The texts that Cardim commissioned to be printed during his expedition found their first audience, unsurprisingly, within Jesuit communities. In fact, some of them were reproduced almost immediately in new editions in French, Italian, and Latin, sponsored by other Jesuits. Cardim himself assured António Colaço that the Fasciculus was “muito estimado de todos os nossos” (“highly esteemed by all our brothers”), also noting the many “mimos” (“compliments”) which he had received from the General of the Society “por este trabalho que tomei” (“for this task that I have undertaken”).14 Cardim’s texts thus served to encourage others into the missionary vocation, which was the hallmark of the Society. The Fasciculus itself was presented to the reader as a “theatrum sanguinis” (“theatre of blood”) in which readers would learn about the terrible nature of Japanese tyranny and, above all, be led to admire the dedication of the Jesuit martyrs (Cardim, 1646a: 2). But, beyond the edifying purposes of Cardim’s texts, his wish to print them also corresponded to his interests as a procurator. The serious difficulties afflicting the province of Japan justified the need to make a claim for it to the Pope and, in turn, to raise funds and rally support from the high authorities in the papal curia, and also from the Roman superiors of the Society of Jesus. He needed their support to justify and guarantee the preservation and identity of the province, to sustain it and, above all, to have its holy character recognized. The inclusion of the proverb Qui legitis flores, hos legite on the frontispiece of the Fasciculus seemed to give an indication of who the book was intended for. In the same correspondence with António Colaço, Cardim noted his intention to dedicate the volume to the Pope, in the hope that “a uista de tantos martyres, se moua a conceder nossa petição” (“on seeing so many martyrs, he will be moved to accept our petition”).15 It may be that Cardim was referring to a matter affecting the processes he was then negotiating in the Congregation of Rites, or simply to the need to obtain papal confirmation of the 4,000-escudo pension which was administered by the nunciature in Spain, as he noted in another text.16 What is certain is that Cardim, who had previously dedicated his Relatione della Prouincia del Giappone (1645) to Innocence X, wanted, through this Latin edition, to reach circles inside and outside the Curia which could potentially intermediate in matters affecting the province and, especially, in the causes of the martyrs. The inclusion of so many images in the Fasciculus was probably another means of fulfilling that purpose. In September 1646, Cardim told Colaço that he had sent six copies of the book to Madrid, to be distributed to the nuncio and his officials.17

In reality, Cardim’s determination to make use of printing presses during his journey to Rome and Lisbon was a manifestation of a relatively common modus operandi. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, many of those who, as procurators, moved to Europe from colonial and missionary regions in the Asian and Atlantic regions used their time in the Peninsula and in Italy to have their own writing printed, or that of their coreligionists in their home provinces (Rubial García, 2012; Xavier, 2014). Regardless of the principal aims of their editorial work, their strategies often allowed eventually for certain texts, written by those with first-hand experience of the Empire, to be circulated in metropolitan and Roman contexts. In many different ways, these writings brought together snippets from these other worlds, that is, information about the indigenous people, colonial life, and missionary activity. At times, printed works were a response to the need to have instruments that could be used for evangelization purposes. Due to the potential absence of printing presses in their home provinces—or simply because it was more convenient—grammar manuals, dictionaries, doctrinal works, confessionaries, and devotional texts in indigenous languages were often commissioned and, once produced, sent to colonial lands. One well-known case was that of the Jesuit Antonio Ruiz de Montoya, who, during his time at the Madrid court from 1637-1643, ordered the printing of several of his own texts in Guarani (a grammar manual, a dictionary and a catechism).18 Their audience was not the metropolitan public, but the people spread over the Reductions in Paraguay.19

Often, however, these were writings which, in one way or another, sought to further the interests of the home provinces in metropolitan and Roman contexts. With clear propagandistic traits, as in Cardim’s case, they asserted their and their brothers’ role in colonial and missionary regions, through chronicles, accounts, and treatises. But the use of printed works also often served to defend the concrete causes which had brought the procurators to Europe. Thus, the Franciscan friar Miguel da Purificação, on his expedition to the Peninsula and Rome from Goa between 1630 and 1640, printed the Relação Defensiva dos filhos da Índia oriental (Barcelona, 1640) and the Vida evangélica y apostolica de los frailes menores en Oriente (Barcelona, 1641). Both were used to support demands for autonomy addressed by the Franciscans in the province of São Tomé (India) to their Portuguese brothers, and the need for their affirmation in relation to other missionary orders (Xavier, 2014).

Beyond the immediate reasons behind commissioning printed works, the texts which friars and procurators brought with them did not just allow them to increase the visibility of the colonial and missionary situations which they wanted to assert in metropolitan contexts. Many of these writings, in manuscript and printed form, also contributed to the construction and accumulation of knowledge—linguistic, geographical, natural, ethnographic, religious, and historiographical—about the Asian, African and American worlds in such European centers as Lisbon, Seville and Rome. When Jerónimo Mendieta and Miguel Navarro traveled from New Spain to Castile in 1570 to address issues in their province, they brought with them several texts by Bernardino de Sahagún on the natives’ “idolatries”. Addressed to Juan de Ovando and Pope Pius V, these texts were not printed (Rubial García, 2012: 821-822). In the seventeenth century, it was in Rome that much knowledge about China was produced and accumulated; this was in large part thanks to Nicolas Trigault, whose expedition to Rome as procurator of the mission in China led to the edition of De Christiana expeditione apud China (Augsburg, 1615), which was based on Matteo Ricci’s notes (Romano, 2014b).

The hagiographical nature of Cardim’s texts differentiated them from those of people like Sahagún and Trigault. But they still introduced information and images which contributed to the framing of European perceptions of the Japanese world. The inclusion in the Fasciculus of a map of Japan, although based on previous maps, showed the geography of the Archipelago and of the Jesuits’ presence there.20 In turn, the successive narratives about the lives and martyrdom of the brothers in Japan implicitly (and sometimes explicitly) advanced a vision of the Japanese world that underlined, in a somewhat orientalist way, how tyrannical, cruel, and arbitrary the despotic and bloodthirsty governors were. At the same time, however, he put forward a parallel vision of indigenous holiness, represented by the tens of brothers of Japanese origin who, like the first Christians, had also died for their faith.

The Latin edition of the Elogios (1646): Japanese images, Roman engravings

As already noted, it was the Latin edition of the Elogios that gained most importance among all the texts that Cardim printed in Rome. Before being printed, the text had circulated in manuscript form in both Asia and the Iberian Peninsula.21 Originally written in Macau in 1635, it was influenced by an environment in which the end of the mission in Japan had become ever more palpable (Brockey, 2014: 375-410). As he noted in the prologue ad lectorem, when writing the Elogios,he made use not only of the correspondence which his co-religionists had been able to send to the college in Macau, but also of eye-witness accounts from people who had seen executions and torture, as well as the trials which had been sent to Rome (Cardim, 1646: 1-2, 8). Addressed to the then General of the Order, Mutio Vitelleschi, the manuscript was particularly widely read within Jesuit communities. One of the many copies which circulated at that time, and which is kept today in the Library of the Real Academia de la Historia in Madrid, reached Rafael Pereira, a father at the College of Seville, in around 1638.22 Diogo de Areda had written to him shortly before, from Lisbon, telling him about Cardim’s text, informing him that it had been read at the Society’s three institutions in Lisbon, and assuring him that he would soon send a copy.23 At the same time, the Jesuit Pedro de Novais, also in Lisbon, confirmed to him the reading “à meza” (“at the refectory”) of the “tratado que fez em Machao o Pe. Antº Cardim” (“treatise which Father António Cardim wrote in Macau”), noting that “do seu (que he mto.) e do mais que ha cabría fazer hũ tratado De gloria martirũ” (“from the large amount of information he included in the treatise, and from other texts, it was fitting to compose a treatise on the glory of the martyrs”).24 The project did not come to anything—at least, until the appearance of Cardim’s printed edition—but there were some who made use of the manuscript to compose their own works, which would be printed before 1646.25

In reality, the manuscript form lent the work an “open” character (Bouza, 2001), for this meant that it could be modified, turning it into a text that was composed in the course of Cardim’s travels. His journey through Goa, Lisbon and Rome allowed him to add to, and perfect, the first version of the text written in Macau (Cardim, 1646: 8); the 75 relatively succinct Lives included in the copy which had made its way to Rafael Pereira in 1638 were thus transformed into a set of far richer narratives that traced the holiness and martyrdom of the 84 brothers and three monarchs included in the Latin and Portuguese editions of the text.26

We do not know very much about the printing process. In Cardim’s correspondence with António Colaço, he occasionally mentioned how the Roman edition of the Elogios was progressing. In June 1646, he noted that, after seven months spent obtaining the necessary licenses, he was printing “hum liuro dos Elogios dos nossos Martyres de japão, cada hũ com sua imagen” (“a book of eulogies to our martyrs in Japan, each one with their image”). The most characteristic feature about the Roman edition of the Fasciculus (or at least of many of the copies) was the inclusion of 87 engravings, each of which depicted one of the martyrs whose lives were recounted in the book. Each image came immediately before the account of the life and virtues of the martyr it depicted, and the circumstances of their death. The importance of the imago and iconic language in the culture of that time (particularly among the Jesuits) does not need to be repeated here, but, as is well known, visual culture was remarkably important both in the Jesuits’ intellectual routines and in their spiritual practices. These practices were organized around Ignatius of Loyola’s compositio loci, and found one of their best visual expressions in Jerónimo Nadal’s Evangelicae Historiae Imagines (Fabre, 1992).

As already mentioned, the inclusion of engravings was undoubtedly linked to the aims that Cardim was pursuing with this edition. In any case, it gave the volume a specific touch which distinguished it from other martyrologies of the day, in particular, texts on the Japanese world, which far more rarely made use of images. At that time, Nicolas Trigault’s De Christianis apvd iaponios Trivmphis (Munich, 1623) constituted one of the few printed works with a complete series of engravings depicting the punishments inflicted by the Japanese authorities on both the faithful congregation and the missionaries. The book incorporated a total of sixteen images of undoubtedly good quality, but they were far from the size of the collection that Cardim commissioned in Rome (Trigault, 1623).27 Cardim’s Roman edition not only included many more engravings, but also shared specific formal characteristics.

Fig. 1

Fig. 2

Figs. 1 and 2: António F. Cardim, Fasciculus e iapponicis floribus, Rome: Haeredii Corbelletii, 1646, Eng. 11 and 54. Biblioteca Histórica Marqués de Valdecilla, Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM).

The engravings in the Fasciculus were inserted throughout the volume on separate sheets and with their own numbering, and, as noted, they preceded the account of the life and death of each martyr. The engravings follow on one from another, making up a sort of gallery of effigies or portraits. The model possibly came from profane works like Paolo Giovio’s Elogia virorum illustrium (Basel, 1575-1577) or Francisco Pacheco’s Libro de retratos (Cacho Casal, 2011). In any case, narrative elements in the Fasciculus engravings are scarce or non-existent. In a single scene, the martyr appears in the foreground, depicted full-length (and often with an almost imperceptible sense of movement), at the moment of his martyrdom, or simply ‘adorned’ with the instruments used for his execution. The prints do not show other people, and not one of them depicts the executioner, which was very often the case at that time in representations of martyrdom (Figs. 1 and 2) (Palomo, 2014: 178-185).28 This almost iconic formula for depicting martyrdom and the arrangement in series of paintings or engravings took various forms during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, both in Iberian contexts and in other Catholic centers (Vincent-Cassy, 2011: 335-363). Within the Society, there were series such as the one found in the German engraver Johann Bussemacher’s Effigies, et nomina quorundam e Societate Iesu qui pro fide vel pietate sunt interfecti ab anno MDXLIX ad An. MDCVIII (Cologne, 1608) (Fig. 3). They were also found, for example, in the Jesuit novitiate’s recreational room in Rome, where a collection of portraits of Jesuit martyrs was arranged as if in a gallery (Bailey, 2003: 61-68). Their iconic nature sought to move the viewer to contemplation, as the Jesuit Louis Richeôme noted when he described this gallery in his Peinture spirituelle (Richeôme, 1611: 153-240).

Fig. 3

Fig. 3: Johann Bussemacher, Effigies, et Nomina Qvorvndam Societate Iesv qvi Pro Fide, vel Pietate Svnt Interfecti ab Anno MDXLIX ad An. MDCVIII (Köln, 1608). British Museum, 1848, 0911.464.

In truth, this model contrasted with other contemporary ways of depicting martyrdom, which were widely disseminated in both the Protestant and the Catholic worlds of that time. Characterized by their narrative nature and theatrical overtones, they had great emotive and dramatic potential, as they depicted characters and punishments in all their rawness in one or several scenes (Fig. 4). This kind of visual expression of martyrdom was quite common and already developing in the first cycles and repertoires of sixteenth-century Europe, such as Richard Verstegan’s Theatrum Crudelitatum hæreticorum (Antwerp, 1587), Giovanni Battista Cavalieri’s Ecclesiae Militante Trumphi (Rome, 1585), Antonio Gallonio’s Trattato degli Instrumenti di martirio (Rome, 1591) and Circignani’s frescoes in the churches of Santo Stefano Rotondo and Saint Thomas of Canterbury, both in Rome (Bailey, 2003; Noreen, 1998; Lestringant 1995).

Fig. 4

Fig. 4: Richard Verstegan, Théâtre des cruautez des héréticques des nostres temps, Antwerp: Adrien Hubert, 1588, p. 25. Gallica. Bibliothèque National de France.

These more narrative and dramatized styles, however, were further removed from the portraits and the iconic nature of the prints in the Fasciculus. Cardim commissioned the engraver Pierre Miotte, who had been active in the Roman and Neapolitan printing worlds in the 1640s and 1650s and had worked on a number of religious and erudite texts. Miotte was collaborating at that time with other priests linked to the Society of Jesus, and was involved in the printing of some of Athanasius Kircher’s works, such as the Obesliscus Pamphilius (Rome, 1650) and the Ars Magna Lucis et Umbrae (Rome, 1645-46). Cardim himself had already worked with him on the Latin version of the aforementioned Vita about João Cardim, producing the portrait included at the beginning of the text. Miotte also engraved the image which opened the account Mors felicissima quatuor legatorum, which depicted in a notably narrative and gory way the execution of the four Portuguese ambassadors in Japan in 1640.

Among the engravings included in Cardim’s work are two which bear Pierre Miotte’s signature: the first in the series, depicting Francis Xavier, surrounded by several people threatening him; and the image of the martyrdom at the pyre of the Jesuit António Pinto, who died in 1631 (Cardim, 1646a, prints 1 and 54). However, there are many similarities between the 87 engravings, both in their style and in the way that they depict, time after time, each type of martyrdom, sometimes verging on repetitiveness. We can reasonably assume that they were all made in Miotte’s workshop, with many pairs of hands working on them alongside the Burgundian master engraver. They probably had pictorial and iconographical references from the Society in Rome, which was rich in artistic projects centered on martyrdom: Circignani’s aforementioned cycles in the Churches of Santo Stefano Rotondo and Saint Thomas of Canterbury, later transferred to paper by Cavalieri; and the series of portraits in the novitiate’s recreation room at the Church and Seminary of Sant’Andrea del Quirinale, whose formal characteristics, as noted, followed an iconic model similar to that used in Cardim’s volume (Bailey, 2003). But it is not impossible that Cardim had also wanted to introduce elements into his commission which referred to the Japanese world; some of the engravings in the Fasciculus, in fact, seem to have been inspired by depictions made by Christian painters of Japanese origin, whose work was not unknown in Jesuit circles in Rome. It is not easy to establish the connection between Cardim’s engravings and the Japanese paintings, given the mestizo nature of the latter. Nevertheless, some evidence pointing in that direction can be found in one of the three paintings on the martyrs of Japan which are kept in the Sacristy of the Chiesa del Gesù in Rome (Fig. 5).29

This painting, now located in Rome, was probably produced in Macau in the 1630s, possibly by the Chinese-Japanese painter Giocomo Niva (Ni Yicheng) (Curvelo, 2007: 385) or another master linked to the school of painting which developed from the end of the sixteenth century in the Japanese Archipelago under the Neapolitan Jesuit Giovanni Niccolò (1563-1626). Niccolò’s activity led to a number of local people receiving artistic training in western styles. But, far from just copying paintings and engravings, they started a whole stream of production with original hybrid forms, in which techniques, media, pigments, and stylistic traits from traditional Japanese art were combined with iconographic models and other elements originating from European painting. Intended to meet the devotional requirements of Japanese and Chinese Christians, this art form—kirishitan—was primarily religious, although some secular artworks were produced (Curvelo, 2007: 384-385; Curvelo, 2001; Bailey, 1999: 52-81).

Fig. 5

Fig. 5: Anonymous Japanese Master, Jesuit Martyrs (c. 1635). Chiesa del Gesù, Rome. © Zeno Colantoni.

After 1614, Niccolò himself and some of the Japanese Christian artists moved to Macau, while others fled to Manila. For some time, they continued their artistic activity and the artistic forms they had developed in Japan, and their work was particularly well-received in areas like Spanish America (Curvelo, 2007). An environment like Macau, which had been particularly receptive to the news about the persecutions in Japan, favored the production of paintings on martyrdom, such as those preserved in the Chiesa del Gesù (Curvelo, 2007: 371-404). The painting in question, which is relatively large (110 x 220 cm), was originally a watercolor painted on paper. Only later was it repainted in oil, attached to a canvas and framed, such as it is now to be found today (D’Orazio, 2008). Produced in an unquestionably kirishitan style, the painting depicts 44 Jesuits who were martyred in different ways in Japan, beginning with the very first persecution. The painting is divided into three separate levels. The top, with the clearest tonalities, represents glory: amid the clouds, and flanked by two angels, rise the figures of Francis Xavier and the three Jesuits crucified in Nagasaki in 1597, who had been recognized as martyrs by Rome, Paulo Miki, John Soan de Goto and James Kisai. In the second level, in the middle, we see those who were burned at the stake, those who were decapitated and those who had to live in secrecy or exile. Finally, in the third level, at the bottom, we see those who were subjected to the so-called tormento das covas (being suspended upside down over a pit) (Fig. 5).

We do not know when or how the painting arrived in Rome, although Cardim may himself have brought it over from Macau along with his writings and relics. He must at least have known about it. The painting, both because of the people it depicts (and those who are missing) and because of the forms of torture it evokes, must have been produced soon after 1633, in the years when Cardim lived at the Society’s college in Macau, before he was sent to Europe. The links between the painting and the engravings which Cardim commissioned in Rome are not so strong stylistically, although in some of the prints we can see stylistic traits which do not seem completely European, and even less so Italian. But the links are made most clear in some of the ways that martyrdom is depicted, from which we can speculate that the drawings used for creating the engravings were influenced by the watercolor at the Chiesa del Gesù.

Both Cardim’s engravings and the watercolor share a figurative logic: the watercolor is organized as a gallery of effigies in which the martyrs are depicted in an individualized way, almost iconically and with little movement, but at the same time with a repetitiveness, almost like a series, in the way the different types of torture are painted. However, these were common elements at the time, and the similarities do not per se prove the existence of links between the engravings and the painting. What is more significant, for example, is that both series depict the Jesuits who were persecuted and died as a result of exile and imprisonment, or who died in secrecy, like Diogo Mesquita, Francisco de Critana and Mateus de Couros. Their deaths, with no explicitly violent elements, seemed to distance them from the concept of martyrdom, and therefore from galleries like Cardim’s engravings or the Gesù watercolor. We know that these people were the subject of an investigative trial, opened by the Bishop of Macau at the request of Cardim.30 The procurator also included these martyrs in his own works, making the harshness of everyday life—illness, privation, living unsheltered from the elements—a form of long-term martyrdom in itself (Palomo, 2014: 184-185). The Japanese painter depicted these characters, grouped together on the left and right of the watercolor, situating them in settings which represent helplessness, secrecy and exile (the shelter of a hut, on board a galleon, abandoned on a shore, for example). Some of these elements, depicted in a more stylized form, also appear in some of the Fasciculus prints, but, in this regard, the link between kirishitan painting and the engravings probably came about because of shared iconographical references which referred to the then common images of the death of Francis Xavier (Torres Olleta, 2009).

In reality, the iconographical connections seem to be more direct when we look at the way in which the martyrs who died by beheading are depicted. The Japanese master opted for a relatively original formula when composing the portraits of João Baptista Machado and Agostinho Ota. He painted them kneeling, with their bodies straight and their hands clasped in prayer, worshipping. But what is most characteristic about both figures is the katana (sword) driven through the martyrs’ necks, evoking the way in which they had died (Fig. 6). Undoubtedly based upon European models, he adopted a solution which was to some extent previously unseen.31 In any case, he distanced himself from a far more common and explicit iconography, in which the executioner, about to deliver the fatal blow with a saber or sword, assumed a more prominent role in the scene (Fig. 4); the engravings in the Fasciculus closelyreproduced the model used in the watercolor from the Chiesa del Gesù, both in the corresponding image of Machado, which is somewhat simpler (Fig. 7), and in the engravings of the other decapitated martyrs, Agostinho Ota, João Chungocu and Marcello Mastrilli.32

Fig. 6

Fig. 6: Anonymous Japanese Master, Jesuit Martyrs (c. 1635). Detail. © Zeno Colantoni.

Fig. 7

Fig. 7: António F. Cardim, Fasciculus, Eng. 17. Biblioteca Histórica Marqués de Valdecilla, UCM.

A similar analogy, although even more explicit, appears in the images of the martyrs who were subjected to the tormento das covas. This punishment, which the Japanese began to use in the 1630s, had hardly been depicted at all when Cardim commissioned the Fasciculus engravings. There were only a few images depicting the martyrdom of the Jesuit Marcello Mastrilli, such as the one at the opening of Ignacio Stafford’s Life, which was printed in Lisbon in 1639. In that image, the torture is shown in the upper part of the image, in the background, with limited room for detail. The scene shows the victims from two different angles, surrounded by people (Fig. 8). Unlike this image, the engravings in Cardim’s volume showing this type of martyrdom—some twenty of them—seemed to closely imitate the Japanese master’s iconography; not only do the engravings adopt the same frontal perspective as the watercolor, but the artist also reproduced in detail the arrangement of the ropes and the wooden arches, the tethers around the martyrs’ legs and torsos, and the way they were portrayed (half profile, full-body, and so on). The images are almost identical to those in the painting of the Chiesa del Gesù (Figs. 9, 10 and 11).

Fig. 8

Fig. 8: Inácio Stafford, Historia de la celestial vocación, missiones apostólicas, y gloriosa muerte del P. Marcelo Franco. Mastrilli, Lisbon: António Álvares, 1639. Biblioteca Nacional de Portugal.

Fig. 9

Fig. 9: Anonymous Japanese Master, Jesuit Martyrs (c. 1635).  Detail. © Zeno Colantoni.

Fig. 10

Fig. 10: António F. Cardim, Fasciculus, est. 57. Biblioteca Histórica Marqués de Valdecilla, UCM.

Fig. 11

Fig. 11: António F. Cardim, Fasciculus, est. 58. Biblioteca Histórica Marqués de Valdecilla, UCM.

The use of pictorial features originating from non-European regions was echoed in other ways in Early Modern Europe. The frontispiece of Antonio de Herrera’s Descripción de las Indias occidentales (Madrid, 1601), for example, incorporated, among a series of maps and a portrait of the author, eight vignettes with images recalling Mesoamerican pictograms (Rubial García, 2010: 125-126). Similarly, the engravings in Diego de Valadés’ Rhetorica Christiana (Perugia, 1579) occasionally echoed, with new meanings, elements from the native Central Mexicans’ codexes (Maza, 1945). The reception and reinterpretation of Chinese decorative forms in European porcelain, tilework, and other decorative arts was even greater, culminating in the eighteenth century in the somewhat more Orientalist taste for chinoiserie (Curvelo, 2013). In this sense, the probable influence of kirishitan work in some of the engravings which Cardim commissioned makes it clear that there was a certain amount of permeability, albeit subtle and limited, for the artists who turned to the ‘exotic’ of non-European visual forms. However, the hybrid nature of these forms, as in the Gesù watercolor, made that exoticism familiar, facilitating their reception and adaptation in the West.

Epilogue: Japan in the Alentejo

In the Portuguese edition of the Elogios, printed in 1650, António Cardim gave news of the relics of the Japanese Jesuit priest, James Kisai, in the pages devoted to his life and martyrdom. He claimed that they were kept at the Society’s college in Macau, but that a piece of one of his arms was being guarded in the Church of the Convent of Jesus in Viana do Alentejo (Portugal), in the chapel of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, where Cardim’s own parents were buried (Cardim, 1650: 35). Kisai was not just any martyr among the dozens of Martyrs of Japan: as already noted, he was one of the three priests crucified in Nagasaki in 1597, along with six Franciscans and sixteen other Japanese Christians. He was one of the protagonists in the episode which shaped the European imagination about Christian persecution in Japan. It is little wonder that, in 1629, he was recognized as a martyr by Rome, along with his co-religionists Paul Miki and John Soan de Goto. In canonical terms, he achieved a status that distinguished him from other members of the Society, allowing him to become an object of worship and veneration.

This all suggests that the prized relic reached the Viana do Alentejo Convent through Cardim’s own efforts, and that it was part of the luggage he brought over from Macau at the beginning of his journey. By depositing it in the chapel where his parents were laid to rest, he aimed to honor the memory of his family. But, above all, he wanted to mark out their memory, linking the family’s resting place to something which would become ever more symbolically and spiritually valuable over the course of the seventeenth century in the Iberian peninsula. The relics of the Martyrs of Japan, in fact, become highly sought-after and valued objects, being particularly important in churches, chapels, and private collections. In 1630, the canons of Manila asked André Palmeiro, the Society’s Visitor in Asia, to donate some relics, which, like the remains of James Kisai, would be kept in the college in Macau.33 In Mexico City, the Franciscan Felipe de Jesús, who was born there, would become extremely important after 1627, when he was made patron saint of the city. In 1636, a chapel was dedicated to him in the cathedral, in which was placed the font in which he had been baptized (Rubial García, 2010: 261-262). Bones and other objects linked to the Martyrs of Japan also made up the impressive collection which the Duchess of Aveiro, Maria Guadalupe de Lencastre, acquired in the seventeenth century, and which, after her death, the Dukes of Arcos donated to the Society’s college in Marchena and to the Convent of the Most Holy Conception in the same city (Baena Gallé, 2014).

Beyond the importance for his family, Cardim’s decision helped to connect in a tangible way a small rural village in the Alentejo, as Viana was, with Japan. It thus opened itself up to a world thousands of miles away, in which the trials and tribulations of a martyred Christianity, projected across the world, led to a particular native Japanese holiness, whose remains could now be venerated in the remote south of Portugal. In a way, the relic which Cardim brought with him to Europe symbolized his endeavors as procurator of his province. Like other priests and friars who moved from Portuguese and Spanish imperial contexts to the metropolitan centers and to Rome, Cardim made use of the printing press as a fundamental part of his strategy aimed at the Roman authorities and the superiors of the Society of Jesus. The texts which he printed, most of which had come with him from Macau, were fitted to the needs and interests of his procuration. With them, he attempted to portray a specific vision of the mission—bloody, cruel and distant—with which to gain the favor of those at the top of the Roman hierarchies. Written and visual memories about the Martyrs of Japan thus became particularly valuable when trying to defend the very survival of the Jesuit Province of Japan, to guarantee its existence and to obtain recognition for its most worthy members. The engravings which he commissioned in Rome, and which he included in his most important editorial undertaking, were intimately linked with such goals. In many of the engravings, albeit in a discreet and almost unnoticeable way, there are elements of the hybrid artistic world (kirishitan), developed by Christian painters of Asian origin, whose production circulated at the time throughout the Society’s circles in the Iberian Peninsula and in Rome.




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* Abbreviations: AGI: Archivo General de Indias (Seville). ARSI: Archivum Romanum Societatis Iesu (Rome); ASPF: Archivio Storico di Propaganda Fide (Rome)—SOCG: Scritture Originali riferite nelle Congregazioni Generali; BRAH: Biblioteca de la Real Academia de la Historia (Madrid).
1 Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain. E-mail: fpalomo@ghis.ucm.es. This study has been undertaken as part of the research project Imperios de papel: textos, cultura escrita y religiosos en la configuración del Imperio Portugués en la Edad Moderna (1580-1668)—HAR2014-52693-P. Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (Spain). I would like to thank Fernando Bouza and Cécile Vincent-Cassy for reading the text and for their generous comments. Thanks also to Matt Stokes for his care in translating this article into English.
2 I look at Cardim’s Elogios in another study, which examines the discourse on martyrdom that he built up through texts and images (Palomo, 2014).
3 For Portuguese contexts, see (among others): Jordan Gschwend and Lowe, 2015; Bailey et al, 2013; Weston, 2013; Curvelo, 2010; Levenson et al, 2009; Alves et al, 2003-2005.
4 Two of Fernão Cardim’s brothers, Lourenço Cardim and Diogo Fróis, were also Jesuits.
5 BRAH, 9/7331.
6 Mutio Vitelleschi, Letter to António Colaço (Rome, 04/01/1643), BRAH, 9/7331, unnumbered pages.
7 Mutio Vitelleschi, Letters to António Colaço (Rome, 01/09/1641; 25/01/1642; 28/08/1642; 04/01/1643; 16/08/1643; 28/12/1643; 08/05/1644); António F. Cardim, Letters to António Colaço (Genoa, 06/05/1644; Rome, 20/01/1645; 22/07/1645; 26/03/1646; 28/04/1646; 23/06/1646; 16/09/1646), BRAH, 9/7331), unnumbered pages.
8 BRAH, 9/7239c, fols. 366-385v and fols. 398-434v.
9 In 1645, he confirmed that the Pope had approved the request regarding the investigative trials carried out in Macau about Spínola. António F. Cardim, Letter to António Colaço (Rome, 22/07/1645), BRAH, 9/7331, unnumbered pages.
10 In the same letter, he asked Colaço to obtain from Filipe IV a letter of request to the Pope regarding Marcello Mastrilli, who had died in 1637, in which, he says, Sebastião Vieira should also be included. Ibidem.
11 Relação do glorioso martirº de quatro embaixadores Portuguezes da Cide de Macao cõ sincoenta e sete christãos mais da sua compª diferentes nas nações degolados pella fee de Xpo em Nangassaqui Cide de Japão, ASPF, SOCG, vol. 192, fols. 280-287v. Two copies in Italian: ibídem, fols. 288-305v and 306-310v.
12 ASPF, Acta Anno 1644-1645, Congregatio 316 (21/06/1644), fol. 132.
13 The presence of two copies without the engravings from the Roman edition at the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (4v ss c58s; 4 Jes. 37 m) suggests that perhaps Cardim also commissioned a set of copies without images, making those which did contain images even more important.
14 António F. Cardim, Letter to António Colaço (Rome, 16/09/1646). BRAH, 9/7331, unnumbered pages.
15 António F. Cardim, Letter to António Colaço (Rome, 26/06/1646), BRAH, 9/7331, unnumbered pages.
16 Among the “remedies” which Cardim had proposed in his Informatio pro Provincia Japponica (1645), he included dedicating the volume of the Elogios, which was then being printed,to the Pope, in order to obtain the 4,000 escudos which were to be received from the Apostolic Camera through the nunciature in Madrid (Cardim, 1975: 1032).
17 António F. Cardim, Letter to António Colaço (Rome, 16/09/1646), BRAH, 9/7331, unnumbered pages. Cardim himself must have given copies of the texts as gifts, as shown by the annotation on the frontispiece (“Ex dono Authoris Ulysip. 10 Nov. 1648”) of the copy of the Relatione della Prouincia del Giappone now kept at the Biblioteca de la Universidad Complutense de Madrid (FLL 18832). Many thanks to Fernando Bouza for this information.
18 Antonio Ruiz de Montoya, Tesoro de la lengua Guaraní (Madrid, 1639); Arte y Vocabulario de la lengua guaraní (Madrid, 1640); Catecismo en lengua guaraní (Madrid, 1640).
19 The royal license allowing for the texts which Ruiz de Montoya had commissioned to be sent to Paraguay, in AGI, Casa de la Contratación, leg. 5426, nº 79. Many thanks to Fernando Bouza for this information about the document.
20 The Fasciculus also included a well-known folded map of the Japanese Archipelago, which closely followed the map made by Christophorus Blancus in 1617 from another manuscript copy produced by Inácio Moreira in the late sixteenth century (Cattaneo, 2014).
21 On the circulation of manuscripts in Iberian contexts, see Bouza, 2001.
22 Elogios dos insignes e gloriosos martires de Japão da Companhia de JESV. Tirados dos procesos autenticos, cartas dos mesmos mártires, e testas. de vista. Pello Pe. Anto. Cardim, Ror do Collo de Macao da compa de Jesu. BRAH, 9/3692, fols. 56-65v. An earlier manuscript copy, produced in Macau in 1635, is now kept at ARSI, Jap.-Sin. 29 I, fols. 134-149.
23 Diogo de Areda, Letters to Rafael Pereira, in Seville (Lisbon, 05/01/1638 and 15/01/1638), BRAH, 9/3692, fols. 171 and 175.
24 Pedro Novais, Letter to Rafael Pereira, in Seville (Lisbon, 12/01/1638), ibidem, fol. 176.
25 Cardim himself mentioned Juan Eusebio Nieremberg, who echoed the Elogios in his Vida del dichoso y Venerable Padre Marcelo Francisco Mastrilli (Madrid, 1640). He also mentioned Bartolomeu Guerreiro and Bartolomeu Pereira, who used the Elogios in the Coroa de esforçados religiosos da Companhia de Jesus (Lisbon, 1642) and in the poem Paciecidos libri duodecim (Lisboa, 1640), respectively (Cardim, 1646a: 10).
26 BRAH, 9/3692, fols. 56-65v. The copy kept in the archive in Rome, from an earlier date, only contains the lives of 64 holy men (ARSI, Jap.-Sin. 29 I, fols. 134-149).
27 There was also a French edition (Paris, 1624) which, along with the frontispiece, only included four engravings, three of which were different from the Latin edition.
28 The only engraving that depicts other people is the opening one of the series, which depicts Francis Xavier (Cardim, 1646: print 1).
29 Alongside the painting that is focused on here, two other pieces of Japanese origin are kept in the Sacristy of the Chiesa del Gesù. Both show scenes of collective martyrdoms in 1619 and 1622 (Curvelo, 2007: 384-387; D’Orazio, 2008; Mochizuki, 2014).
30 BRAH, 9/7239c, fols. 398-434v.
31 A rare example of a similar iconographical solution is the image of the bust of the Jesuit Vicente Álvares, included in Johann Bussemacher’s engraving (1606). A different iconography, although with some similar elements, was the one used to portray St. Peter the Martyr, depicted with a scimitar through his brain. This model is also found in the images of some of the Jesuits killed alongside Inácio de Azevedo in 1570.
32 Cardim, 1646: prints 22, 31 and 83. This way of representing the decapitated brothers is found later on, in some of the engravings included in Tanner, 1675: 212 and 220.
33 BRAH, 9/6239, fol. 354.



Received for publication: 3 March 2016
Accepted in revised form: 10 August 2016
Recebido para publicação: 3 de Março de 2016
Aceite após revisão: 10 de Agosto de 2016

Copyright 2016, ISSN 1645-6432
e-JPH, Vol. 14, number 2, December 2016




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