Jesuit Martyrdoms in China: Printed in the Philippines

Sequeira, Luís, S.J.(1693-1763); Simões, João, S.J.

Breve Relación sobre la Persecución de Nuestra Santa Fé en la Provincia de Kiamnan, y otras Provincias del Imperio de la China, Ilustres Vidas, y Gloriosas Muertes de los VV. PP. Antonio Joseph Henríquez, y Tristán de Atimis, de la Compañía de Jesús… escribieronla en idioma Portuguez los PP. Luis de Sequeyra, y Iuan Simoes de la misma Compañia, y traducida en Castellano, la da a luz, para la comun edificacion este Colegio de S. Ignacio de la Compañia de Iesus de Manila, y la ofrece à Los PP. missioneros de la Compañia de Iesus de aquel imperio.

Manila: Imprenta de la Compañía de Jesús por D. Nicolás de la Cruz Bagay, 1751


Quarto: 19.5 x 14 cm. [3], 72 leaves. Printed on Asian paper. π1, a2, A-S4


A Spanish translation by Juan de Velande from the Portuguese original, which was published at Lisbon in the same year. Bound in 20th-century parchment. A very good copy with minor faults: repairs to margin and outer corners of title (expert restorations to printed border) and blank outer margin of several other leaves, scattered corrections in ink in contemporary hand. This copy has the fine woodcut title-border not used on all copies. EXTREMELY RARE: 1 copy in North America (Yale.)

Two contemporary accounts of the execution of two Jesuits in China, written by Luís de Sequeira, S.J., rector for the Vice-province of China until his arrest at Macao in 1762 (He died at sea off the coast of Malabar in 1763) and João Simões (who was also expelled in 1762 but survived the ocean journey to Portugal.)

In December 1747 two Jesuit missionaries, the Italian Tristan de Attemis and the Portuguese Antonio Joseph Henriques, were arrested in Suzhou. After months of imprisonment and torture, both were executed (by strangulation in their cell) on 12 September 1748. Of special interest is a (transliterated) Chinese text (with an accompanying Latin translation) of the Emperor's decree that the two Jesuit be executed for preaching "false doctrine". 

In addition to detailing the martyrdoms of Attemis, Henriques (and of numerous other Christians who endured prison, torture, and execution) the relations include details that paint a vivid picture of the precarious state of the Chinese mission as anti-Christian sentiment rose from 1746 to 1749. 

The second letter includes a long chapter on apostates, in which Simões explains that Christians, tortured into betraying priests and renouncing their faith, were made to abjure Christianity in different ways. Some were forced to renounce their faith in writing while others were forced to go to temples, bow their heads, and "offer incense to idols". Others were compelled to trample upon holy images. 

This Manila edition, in Spanish, appeared in the same year as the first Portuguese edition, printed at Lisbon.

Medina/Manila 236; Palau 309407; Streit VII, 3407