Jeronimo Lobo

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Jeronimo Lobo (1593 - January 29, 1678) was a Portuguese Jesuit missionary.

Born in Lisbon, he entered the Order of Jesus at the age of sixteen. In 1621 he was ordered as a missionary to India, and in 1622 he arrived at Goa. With the intention of proceeding to Ethiopia, whose Negus negust Sissinios had been converted to Roman Catholicism by Pedro Páez, he left India in 1624. He disembarked on the coast of Mombasa, and attempted to reach his destination through country controlled by the Oromo, but was forced to return. In 1625 he set out again, accompanied by Alfonso Mendez, the patriarch of Ethiopia, and eight missionaries. The party landed on the coast of the Red Sea, and Lobo settled in Ethiopia as superintendent of the missions in Tigray. His activities included recovering the remains of Christov„o da Gama, who had been captured and executed by Ahmed Gragn in 1542.

He remained there until death (1632) deprived the Catholics of their protector, the emperor Sissinios. His successor, Fasilidos, expelled them from the kingdom, and in 1634 Lobo and his companions fell into the hands of the Turks at Massawa, who sent him to India to procure a ransom for his imprisoned fellow missionaries. In this he was successful, but could not induce the Portuguese viceroy to send an armament against Ethiopia. Intent upon accomplishing this cherished project, he embarked for Portugal, and after he had been shipwrecked on the coast of Natal, then captured by pirates, arrived at Lisbon. Neither at this city, however, nor at Madrid and Rome, was any approval given to Lobo's plan.

He accordingly returned to India in 1640, and was elected rector, and afterwards provincial, of the Jesuits at Goa. After some years he returned to his native city, where he died.

Writings

Lobo wrote an account of his travels in Portuguese, which appears never to have been printed, but is deposited in the monastery of St. Roque, Lisbon. Balthazar Telles made large use of the information therein in his Historia geral da Ethiopia a Alta (Coimbra, 1660), often erroneously attributed to Lobo (see Machado's Bibliotheca Lusitana). Lobo's own narrative was translated from a manuscript copy into French in 1728 by the Abbé Joachim le Grand, under the title of Voyage historique d'Abissinie. An English abridgment of Le Grand's edition by Dr. Samuel Johnson was published in 1735 (reprinted 1789).

In 1669 a translation by Sir Peter Wyche of several passages from a manuscript account of Lobo's travels was published by the Royal Society (translated in M. Thévenots Relation des voyages in 1673). The entire work was translated by Donald M. Lockhart, and published with an introduction and notes by C.F. Beckingham by the Hakluyt Society in 1984.

In a Mémoire justificatif en réhabilitation des pères Pierre Paez et Jérôme Lobo, Dr. C. T. Beke maintains against Bruce the accuracy of Lobo's statements as to the source of the Abay branch of the Nile. See A. de Backer, Bibliothèque de la Compagnie de Jésus (ed. C. Sommervogel, iv., 1893).

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