Cruz, Gaspar da

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First Dominican missionary to China; b. place and date unknown; d. Setuval, Portugal, 1570. With Father Diogo Bermúdes he left the Dominican Convent of Azeitão (Portugal) for India, founded the first convent in Goa (1548), and opened a convent in Malacca. At the invitation of the native king, Cruz traveled to Cambodia in 1555; he learned the language, but met with great resistance from the natives. In 1556 he left for China where the Portuguese had settled in 1554. He went to Canton with merchants from the newly founded Macau colony, but like his predecessor Melchior Nunes Barreto, SJ, he was forced to leave. Cruz resolved to seek permission from the Portuguese king to lead a mission to Beijing. After returning via India and Ormuz to Portugal, he published a description of China based on his own experiences and the writings of Galeotto Pereira, who had been a prisoner for 14 years in Fujian. Cruz, after ministering to the sick in Lisbon (1569), succumbed to the plague (1570). He was buried in Azeitão. Gaspar was to have been named bishop of Malacca, a bishopric established in 1557.

Bibliography: b. m. biermann, Die Anfänge der neueren Dominikanermission in China (Münster 1927). h. bernard, Aux Portes de la Chine (Tientsin 1933). r. streit and j. dindinger, Bibliotheca missionum (Freiburg 1916) 4:518. m. teixeira, Macau e a sua Diocese, v.6 (Lisbon 1963).

[b. m. biermann]