John of Monte Corvino

John Of Monte Corvino, a celebrated early Roman missionary among the Mongols, belonged to the Franciscan order, and flourished towards the close of the 13th century. He was born in Monte Corvino, a small city in Apulia, and had, previous to his appointment as Eastern missionary, distinguished himself (in 1272) as ambassador of the emperor Michael Palaeologus to pope Gregory X in behalf of a contemplated union of the Eastern and Western churches. He had travelled in the East, and, aware of the opening for Christianity among the Mongols, had urged the Roman see to dispatch missionaries to them; but their efforts proved unsuccessful, and in 1289 he finally, at the instance of pope Nicholas IV, set out for that distant field himself. Of an energetic character, discouraged by no reverses however great, or trials however severe, he finally succeeded in building up a Christian Church. As an instance of his undaunted courage may be cited the fact that he had to buy the children of natives in order to educate them in Christian doctrines, and through them to influence maturer minds. About 1305 he had some six thousand converts, and the prospect of still greater additions. In 1307 other laborers were sent into the field, and John de Monte Corvino was appointed archbishop (his see was named Cambalu), and the Christian interests were advanced among the Mongols even after John's death (1328), until the downfall of the Mongol dynasty. SEE MONGOLS. (J.H.W.)

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