ff, (14). Bound in modern quarter vellum with morocco and gilt title label to cover. Very light even damp staining throughout, otherwise a clean and crisp copy.
Very rare first edition of this account of the conversion of three Muslim kings to Christianity in the East Indies, and apparently representing a sort of semi-fictionalized popular digest based on three genuine Jesuit relations. The present work is notable for its account of early activities on Salsette Island, the site of modern day Bombay.
According to Streit, the present work is in fact based on the letters of three Jesuit missionaries from Ternate, Goa, and Cochin, published in 1570. It is here spuriously attributed to a certain Pedro Diaz, probably no more than a literary device, and provides a concise report of the successful activities of the Jesuit missions in these regions. Several churches are already standing – 5 on Salsette Island alone (then a small fishing community); 800 islanders are noted as having been baptised, with the majority Brahmins and ‘Ganzariens’ (Chandraseniya?), and thus “honorable persons”.
The report is an undeniably auspicious one: in each kingdom, the Jesuits have forged argeements with the monarch granting them a ‘patent’ to preach. Cities such as Goa have already been divided into parishes (5 altogether), with hundreds of parishioners in each including a good number of children. Indeed, the author “sees in these children such a readiness and desire to learn, that they willingly leave their puerile games to come and understand the Christian doctrine.”
Oddly, the entire narative has been rewritten from the first-person point of view of the fictional Fr. Diaz, yet is replete with such details as specific dates, names of kings and their kingdoms, etc. The work may represent an attempt to create a sort of popular travel account from the sometimes dry relations of Jesuit missionaries; the text also enjoyed a printing in Rouen in the same year as the present Paris edition, as well as further printings in Lyon and Paris in 1608 under the title La conversion de trois grands roys infidelles, also extremely rare.
OCLC records NYPL and the Bell library only.