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Father Lobo (1593 - 1678)

Father Jeronimo Lobo was born in Lisbon in 1593. He entered the Order of the Jesuits at the age of sixteen. After passing through missionary training (which included speaking and writing instruction), Father Lobo was sent to India in 1621. He was the second European to see the sources of the Blue Nile.

Lobo wrote A Voyage to Abyssinia based on his travels to Goa in 1622 during which he was to convert the Abyssinians to orthodox Catholicism. The original text was written in Portuguese and later translated into French and English (by Samuel Johnson in 1887). The original manuscript is thought to have been lost in an earthquake.

From the introduction to the 1887 edition: "Father Lobo was nine years in Abyssinia, from the age of thirty-one to the age of forty, and this was the adventurous time of his life. The death of the Emperor Segued put an end to the protection that had given the devoted missionaries, in the midst of dangers, a precarious hold upon their work. When he and his comrades fell into the hands of the Turks at Massowah, his vigour of body and mind, his readiness of resource, and his fidelity, marked him out as the one to be sent to the headquarters in India to secure the payment of a ransom for his companions. He obtained the ransom. …The vigour with which he held by his purpose of endeavouring in every possible way to bring the Christianity of Abyssinia within the pale of the Catholic Church is in accordance with the character that makes the centre of the story of this book." (Henry Morley, Editor of the 1887 edition).

Strangely, the manuscript also contained Lobo's personal account of seeing what he believed to be a unicorn: "... In the Province of Agaus has been seen the Unicorn, that Beast so much talk'd of and so little known; the prodigious Swiftness with which this Creature runs from one Wood into another has given me no Opportunity of examining it particularly, yet I have had so near a sight of it as to be able to give some description of it. The Shape is the same as that of a beautiful Horse, exact and nicely proportion'd, of a Bay Colour, with a black Tail, which in some Provinces is long, in others very short; some have long Manes hanging to the Ground. They are so Timerous that they never Feed but surrounded with other Beasts that defend them." (from A Voyage to Abyssinia)

Father Lobo died in 1678, the last survivor of the mission to Ethiopian.

Suggested sites for Father Lobo:

Texts by Lobo
A Voyage to Abyssinia
A story based on Father Lobo's travels to Goa, to convert the local population to Orthodox Christianity.

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