Middle Ages Evangelism in Kongo
Middle Ages

Portuguese mission in the Kongo beginning in the fifteenth century.

Central African depiction of Christ's ministry

Portuguese missionaries came to the royal court of the Kongo at the end of the fifteenth century and baptized the king of the nation. Alfonso I, the Christian son of the first Christian king, labored to Christianize his people during a reign of forty years. Alfonso's son, Henrique, was educated in Portugal and returned to the Kongo as bishop. Portugal, however, failed to oversee the education of a native ministry or to provide a regular supply of European clergy. Dutch friars reinvigorated the mission in the Kongo in the seventeenth century and Roman Catholicism increasingly took indigenous forms. In the eighteenth century a local religious leader Kimpa Vita, or "Donna Beatrice" as her European name was, emerged as the leader of a syncretistic group. She was burned to death for heresy in 1706. By the early nineteenth century little was left of the Christian presence initiated by the Portuguese five hundred years earlier.

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Mission Heritage Collection, Luther Seminary.