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Antonio Fernández

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A Jesuit missionary; b. at Lisbon, c. 1569; d. at Goa, 12 November, 1642. About 1602 he was sent to India, whence two years later he went to Abyssinia, where he soon won favour with King Melek Seghed. This monarch, converted to the Faith in 1622, after the arrival of the Latin patriarch, for whom he had petitioned the Holy See, publcly acknowledged the primacy of the Roman See and constituted Catholicism the State religion (1626). For a time innumerable conversions were made, the monarch in his zeal resorting even to compulsory measures. The emperor's son, however, took sides with the schismatics, headed a rebellion, seized his father's throne, and reinstalled the former faith proscribing the Catholic religion under the penalty of death. The missionaries, on their expulsion, found a temporary protector in one of the petty princes of the country, by whom, however, they were soon abandoned. Those who reached the port of Massowah were held for a ransom. Father Fernández, then over eighty years of age, was one of those detained as hostage, but a younger companion persuaded the pasha to substitute him, and Father Fernández was allowed to return to India, where he ended his days. On his missions for the king, Father Fernández had traversed vast tracts of hitherto unexplored territory. He translated various liturgical books into Ethiopian, and was the author of ascetical and polemical works against the heresies prevalent in Ethiopia.

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