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Melchior Carneiro

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(Carnero).

Missionary bishop ; b. of a noble family at Coimbra, in Portugal ; d. at Macao, 19 August, 1583. He entered the Society of Jesus, 25 April, 1543, was appointed in 1551 the first rector of the College of Evora, and shortly after transferred to the rectorship of the College of Lisbon. When, in 1553, Simon Rodriguez, the first provincial of Portugal, was summoned to Rome to answer charges made against his administration, the visitor, Nadal, assigned him Carneiro as a companion. In the meantime King John of Portugal, the great friend and patron of the Society, had written both to Pope Julius III and to St. Ignatius, requesting the appointment of a Jesuit as Patriarch of Ethiopia. The pope chose John Nugnez, giving him at the same time two coadjutors with the right of succession, Andrew Oviedo, titular bishop of Hieropolis, and Melchior Carneiro, of Nicæa. They were consecrated in 1555, and were the first Jesuits to be raised to the episcopal dignity. The pope had given them an order of obedience to accept consecration, and St. Ignatius acquiesced, considering that the dignity carried with it hardship and suffering rather than honour. Unable to enter his missionary field of Ethiopia, Carneiro set out for the Indies and landed at Goa. He laboured there on the Malabar coast until 1567, when he was appointed first bishop of Japan and China, which office he seems to have renounced soon after, for in 1569 Leonard de Saa succeeded him. He retired to the home of the Society of Jesus at Macao, where he died. Carneiro has written some letters of considerable historical interest, one from Mozambique, one from Goa, and two from Macao. They are printed in various collections.

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