The Kingdom of Kongo and the Counter Reformation

In: Social Sciences and Missions

From early contact with the Portuguese and conversion to Christianity in the late 15th century and continuing through the Counter Reformation, the Kingdom of Kongo resisted Portuguese colonialism while remaining steadfastly loyal to the Roman Catholic Church. Against the turbulent backdrop of the growing Atlantic slave trade, internal conflict and power struggles, and Portuguese presence in Luanda, Kongo repeatedly resisted the temptation to break from Rome and establish its own Church, in spite of Portuguese control of the Episcopate. In the late 16th century King Álvaro clashed with the Portuguese Bishop, but remained faithful to the church in Rome. In the early 17th century, Kongo armies repelled Portuguese invasions from the south while kings continued to lobby for more Jesuit and later Italian Capuchin missionaries, whom they needed, above all, to perform sacraments vital to Kongolese Catholics. Another opportunity to split from Rome came when Dona Beatriz Kimpa Vita created the Antonian movement in 1704 and denounced the Catholic Church. Instead, she was captured and burned at the stake while King Pedro IV remained faithful to the Capuchin missionaries. In contrast to Portuguese Angola, where Jesuits were deeply implicated in slave trading, the Capuchins in Kongo did not own slaves and, for the most part, both resisted and criticized the slave trade.

  • 2)

    ThorntonCultural History pp. 435-41.

  • 3)

    ThorntonCultural History pp. 417-19.

  • 7)

    John Thornton“Master or Dupe? The Reign of Pedro V of Kongo,” Portuguese Studies Review 19 (2011): 97-114.

  • 10)

    Cécile Fromont“Dance, Image, Myth and Conversion in the Kingdom of Kongo, 1500-1800,” African Arts (Winter 2011): 52-63.

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    François Bontinck“Ndoadidike Ne-Kinu A Mubemba, premier évêque Kongo (c. 1495-1531)”. Revue africaine de Théologie3 (1979): 149-69.

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  • 22)

    Bontinck and Ndembe NsasiCatechisme pp. 17-23.

  • 25)

    Jácome Dias 1 August 1548in Brásio ed. Monumenta 15: 159-60.

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    BrásioMonumenta 2: 44.

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    Heywood and ThorntonCentral Africans pp. 83-85.

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    Heywood and ThorntonCentral Africans pp. 87-91.

  • 35)

    ANTT IL Processo 2522fol. 148 see also Processo 2938.

  • 36)

    ANTT IL Processos 250725222938 all grew out of the dispute over control of Kongo’s church.

  • 37)

    ANTT IL Processo 2507fol. 91.

  • 38)

    François Bontinck“Conflit entre le Saint-Siège et le “Padroado” - Royaume de Congo, 17e siècle,” Archivium Historiae Pontificae 4 (1966) 197-218; Richard Gray “The African Origins of the Mission Antiqua” in Lamine Sanneh ed. Christianity the Papacy and Mission in Africa (Maryknoll 2012) pp. 27-47.

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  • 40)

    SaccardoCongo e Angola 1: 112-16.

  • 41)

    Heywood and ThorntonCentral Africans pp. 110-14.

  • 43)

    SaccardoCongo e Angola 1: 193-195.

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    SaccardoCongo e Angola 1: 195-197.

  • 47)

    SaccardoCongo e Angola 1: 273-74.

  • 48)

    Heywood and ThorntonCentral Africans pp. 135-52.

  • 49)

    Heywood and ThorntonCentral Africans pp. 179-83.

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    Giuseppe Pistone“I manoscritti ‘Araldi’ di Padre Giovanni Antonio Cavazzi da Montecuccolo,” Atti e memorie Accademia Nazionale di Scienze Lettere e Arti di Modena 9 (1969): 152-65.

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