Paez, Pedro

Paez, Pedro another Spanish missionary, was born at Olmedo, a town in New Castile, in 1564. Having completed his studies at the college of the Jesuitical order, which he had joined while yet a youth; he was appointed to the mission at Goa. He sailed for that port in 1587. At that time the numerous Portuguese who had resided in Abyssinia since the invasion of Christoval de Gama, being without a patriarch or spiritual director of any sort, sent to Goa for some priests, when Paez and another Jesuit, named Antonio Montserrat, were despatched by the governor. The two missionaries sailed from Goa in 1588; they touched at Diu, where they made some stay, disguised as Armenians. They then sailed for Muscat on April 5, 1588. From thence they made for the port of Zeila in Abyssinia; but on their passage thither they were boarded by an Arab pirate, in sight of Dofar (Feb. 14, 1589), and carried in irons to the capital of the king of Shael (Xaer in the Portuguese writers). They were at first kindly treated by this sovereign but he himself being a tributary to the Turkish pasha of Yemen, and bound by treaty to send him all the Portuguese who might fall into his hands, Paez and his companion were sent to Sanda, the capital of Yemen and the court of the pasha, where they passed seven years in the most dreadful captivity. At last released by the intercession of the viceroy of India, who obtained their liberty upon the payment of a thousand crowns ransom for each, the two missionaries returned to Goa in 1596. The ardor of Paez seems not to have been damped by his past sufferings; on the contrary, after spending several years at Diu and Camboya, he embarked a second time for Abyssinia, and landed at Masawa in April, 1603. His Arst object was to learn one of the most extensively used native dialects, the Gheez, in which he soon acquired such a proficiency as to be enabled to translate into it the compendium of the Christian doctrine written by Marcos George, and to instruct some native children in the dialogues which that work contains. In 1604 Za- Denghel, the reigning monarch of Abyssinia, hearing of the attainments of Paez and the proficiency of his pupils, ordered him to appear at his court with two of them, that he might judge for himself. Paez was kindly received by the king, who conferred upon him all sorts of honors and distinctions. On the following day a thesis was maintained in his royal presence, when Paez's pupils answered every point that was put to them by their opponents; the mass was next celebrated in conformity with the Romish ritual; after which Paez preached a sermon in Gheez, which so pleased the king that he gave himself a convert to Christianity, and wrote to the pope and to king Philip III, of Spain, praying them to send more missionaries, that all the people might speedily be brought to accept Christianity. No sooner was this royal wish made public than the Abyssinian priests, dreading the ascendency which Paez and his adherents had gained at court, excited a rebellion. The king was killed in battle October, 1604, but his successor Socinos, otherwise called Melek-Seghed, was even more favorable to the Christian cause. Soon after his accession to the throne he summoned to his presence Paez, who celebrated mass and preached before all his court, assembled for the purpose. The king was so much pleased with Paez that he gave him, besides a large piece of ground at Georgia, on a rocky peninsula on the south side of the lake Dembea, to build a monastery for his order, land and material to build a palace for himself. Thereupon, without the assistance of any European, but with the mere help of the natives working under his orders, Paez constructed a building which was the astonishment of those who beheld it. A spring-lock which he fixed upon one of the doors saved the king's life when an attempt was afterwards made to assassinate him. Paez lived in great intimacy with Socinos, whom he accompanied in all his military expeditions. It was on one of these occasions that he visited Nagnina, a town three days' march from the sources of the Nile, and surveyed the neighboring country — a fact which Bruce endeavored to discredit, for the purpose of appropriating to himself the glory of being the first European who visited the source of the Abarvi, then reputed to be the main branch of the Nile. Pedro Paez died in the beginning of May, 1612, just as his missionary labors were crowned with success, having persuaded the king to receive the general confession and repudiate all his wives but one. The Roman Catholic faith, thus introduced into Abyssinia, did not long remain the religion of the state. After the death of Socinos (1632), his successor, Facilidas, persecuted the Jesuits and re-established the old creed, which- was Christianity, though in a corrupt form. Besides the translation of the catechism written by Marcos George, and other tracts, into the native dialect of Abyssinia, Nicolas Antonio (Bib. Nov. 2, 225) attributes to Paez a treatise De Abyssinorum Erroribus, a general history of Ethiopia, which was supposed to exist in manuscript at Rome, and several letters which have been published in the collection entitled Littere Annuoe. See Historia da Ethiopa a altai by Manoel de Almeida, MS., in the British Museum, No. 9861, fol. 195; Ludolf, Historia Ethiopica; Bruce, Travels; Salt, Abyssinia English Cyclop. s.v.

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