HOMAGE TO THE PRIEST AND THE MARTYR – Conference on Relations Between Portugal and Vietnam

Joaquim Magalhães de Castro

At the invitation of Ms. Thuy Tien de Oliveira, President of NamPor, Portugal-Vietnam Friendship Association, I participated, representing O Clarim, in an International Conference on Relations between Vietnam and Portugal held at the Hue University of Science on December 15, 2017.

Around one hundred and fifty participants, mostly college students, listened to the communications of fourteen speakers in four panels, five Portuguese, eight Vietnamese and one Luso-Vietnamese. The meeting aimed, above all, to mark the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the Jesuit Francisco de Pina on the Viet Dao lands (with such name were known the territories that now constitute Vietnam), so that most of the communications dealt with the different aspects of life and work of this distinguished character.

Fernando Nobre, as president of the AMI and enthusiastic promoter of Asian Luso-descendant communities, opened the panels with a presentation on the theme “Portugal-Asia – Past, Present and Future.” Thuy Tien de Oliveira focused his speech on the work of Francisco de Pina, while Fátima Marinho, vice-rector of the University of Porto, in a gesture of charm and with the help of an attractive video aiming potential students and took the opportunity to sign a protocol with its counterpart in view of the exchange of students between the two institutions under the Erasmus program, which is already happening but is intended to achieve a greater expression.

Kol de Cravalho, president of the Asian Commission of the Society of Geography of Lisbon, recalled Diogo de Carvalho and the extension of his evangelization to the island of Hokkaido, showing some of the programs developed by the Oriente Foundation, namely Short Term, Language Improvement. Time still for an intervention of the professor of the University of the Port, Zulmira Santos, on the literature of Portuguese voyages of the time of the Discoveries.

Of the local contributions, I would like to emphasize that of Professor Nguyen Van Tran on the “commercial activities of Portugal in the South and North of Vietnam during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries” and his colleagues Bui Thi Than and Mai Van Duoc on “importance of the Portuguese in the romanization of the Vietnamese alphabet.”

On the other hand, the missionary activity during these two centuries was worthy of the attention of the historian Nguyen Van Dang, while “the relations of Portugal with Vietnam and Japan” and the “kingdom of Champa with several western countries” were the main subject of Tran Thin Tan and Nguyen Can Quang.

The great surprise of this meeting, however, would be the commitment and enthusiasm expressed by three young local researchers, which augurs well for the coming years. Take note of their names: Nguyen Thi Vinh Linh – who focused his attention on the “activities of Portugal in Vietnam” establishing “comparative links with China and India,” with Macau deserving special mention, as she confessed; Hoang Thi Anh Dao – who studies missionary activities in South Vietnam; and Le Nam Trung Hieu (with the collaboration of Duang Quang Hiep), who has focused on the activity of João da Cruz, a Portuguese founder active in Vietnam in the 17th century.

As far as I am concerned, I brought to the fore the life and work of Jesuit botanist and erudite João de Loureiro, perhaps the one who most promoted Vietnam in Europe, much owing to the enormous repercussion of his work Flora Conchichinense, and I took the opportunity to briefly highlight the a fundamental role of Macau in relations between Portugal and Vietnam, since all the aspects of the relations between these two countries have to have obligatory Macau in the picture.

The Portuguese delegation also paid tribute to Francisco de Pina by visiting the church dedicated to the martyr Andrew of Phu Yen in the village of Thanh Chiemen, a few kilometers south of Hoi An. NamPor provided the occasion with an evocative wooden plaque of our visit, just moments before the beginning of the Sunday Mass which we had the opportunity to attend. The local parish priest took the opportunity to show us four graves on the grounds adjacent to the church, in one of which allegedly rests the remains of this well-known Vietnamese proto-martyr.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.