Cerqueira, Luís de

views updated


Bishop of Japan; b. Vila de Alvito, Portugal, 1551 or 1552; d. Nagasaki, Feb. 16, 1614. On July 14, 1566, he entered the Jesuit novitiate in Evora, where he studied philosophy and theology. About the end of 1575 he was attached to the secretariate of the Jesuit general curia in Rome. There he worked until early 1577. From 1585 to 1586 he was professor of theology in Coimbra; from 1586 to 1589, socius of the Portuguese provincial; and thereafter, again professor of theology. While teaching theology in Evora, he learned, in January of 1592, of his appointment as coadjutor to the bishop of Japan. The papal bulls did not arrive until early 1594, and in the meantime he took his doctorate in theology at Evora (November 1593). Finally, on March 30, 1594, he set out for Asia. On Sept. 22, 1594, he arrived in Goa, whence he proceeded on April 21, 1595, to Macau, arriving Aug. 7. He became bishop of Japan in February of 1598 upon the death of Bishop Pedro Martins just before the latter reached Malacca on a journey from Macau to India. Despite the threatening situation in Japan, Cerqueira risked sailing for Japan on July 16, 1598, in company with the visitator Alessandro valignano; they landed on Aug. 5,1598. On that same day Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the military dictator of Japan who issued an edict against Jesuits, was stricken with a fatal illness and died in September. Cerqueira remained in Japan, mainly in Nagasaki, until his death.

Cerqueira was a gentle and zealous pastor whose practical capacities had been sharpened by his work in the Jesuit general curia and as socius of the provincial. He was prudent and energetic and managed to maintain a dignified independence even vis-à-vis such a commanding personality as his fellow worker and visitator Valignano. Cerqueira's impressive conscientiousness made him insist energetically on the observance of the directives in papal communications, even in cases in which the effort was made (for example, by the Franciscans from the Philippines) to present him with a fait accompli. He also gave proof of remarkable diplomatic talent in his dealings with the Japanese princes. A deeply religious man, he sought zealously to intensify religious life in Japan.

At the very beginning of his reign, he created, at a meeting in October of 1598, the legislative basis for his activity. He opened the first seminary for Japanese candidates for the secular priesthood and installed the first Japanese pastors in Nagasaki. Cerqueira undertook a series of apostolic journeys; in 1606 he paid an unofficial visit to the former Shōgun, Tokugawa Iyeyasu, in Fushimi (near Kyōto); at this time he became personally acquainted with the Christian communities in central Japan. Cerqueira's term coincides with the flowering of the early Japanese Church; there were many conversions, including those of influential feudal lords. There were also local persecutions (Ōmura, 1606; Arima, 1612). In 1612 there began the great persecution that was to lead to the decline and fall of the Japanese Church. Cerqueira was dead before the definitive expulsion of the missionaries (November 1614).

Cerqueira as professor wrote various treatises (De legibus, De gratia, preserved in manuscript), and as bishop he wrote extensive reports on the state of the Japanese Church, memoranda and apologia for Pope and King, a report on the martyrs of Higo (1603). In 1605 there appeared in Nagasaki his work Manuale ad Sacramenta Ecclesiae ministranda, with a Japanese appendix.

Bibliography: h. cieslik, "Zur Geschichte der kirchlichen Hierarchie in der alten Japanmission," Neue Zeitschrift für Missionswissenschaft, 18 (1962) 4258, 81107, 177195. j. f. schÜtte, "A história inédita dos 'Bispos da Igreja do Japão' do Pe. João Rodriguez Tçuzu, S.J.," Congresso Internacional de História dos Descobrimentos, Actas, 5.1 (Lisbon 1961) 297327. c. sommervogel et al., Bibliothèque de la Compagnie de Jésus, 11 v. (BrusselsParis 18901932) 2:100002; 9:23. a. franco, Imagem da virtude (Noviciado de Evora ) (Lisbon 1714) 461477.

[j. f. schÜtte]