GREAT FIGURES OF THE MISSIONARY WORK – Bengal and the Kingdom of the Dragon (46)

– Joaquim Magalhães de Castro

In Paro, Cacela and Cabral faced new difficulties. The man who accompanied them stole everything they had to feed themselves and lodged them in a very dark house where they stayed in a state of near-captivity. In his “Relação” Father Cacela tells us that it was “a house where already at noon we were not able to see each other, and it felt like we were imprisoned there.”

When trying to leave that place they were prevented by some relatives of the said man. They immediately called him and he forbade the Portuguese priests by force: “The passion with which this man tried to stop us and obliged us to enter his home, using his arms and everything he could against us, was remarkable.” With all the patience and the help of some neighbors, the priests were able to get rid of that annoying person and were housed that night in the home of  “a good old man who for God’s sake took good care of us.”

The next day, a local lama, previously contacted by João Cabral, offered them shelter, having sent men and horses to fetch them. However, when the priests arrived at his house, which was still a long way off, he had already changed his mind, because he feared “to quarrel with the man who had stolen us.” In the end he finally agreed.

In fact, the difficulties continued, with Father Cacela depriving himself of giving the details, although he reminded us of some more peculiarities of those places. He says that it was a land “where no one helps his fellow man; each of those men being at home an absolute master without justifying his actions to no one.”

Finally, Cacela and Cabral would eventually come to speak with “the King’s chief lama” who had heard of the pains suffered by the Portuguese. He told them that he would give them shelter and protection and advise them to wait the monarch’s arrival in his place, for he would be there within a month. But that was just a trick! He, too, was delaying them. They decided, therefore, to return to the path alone, ready to accept the difficulties that might arise from now on. Cacela writes: “Trusting that Our Lord would guide and guard us, for having done the possible diligences, we kept going.” In the face of such a decisive resolution, the lama asked them to give him some time in order to prepare safe conducts, certainly fearing that the monarch would punish him – as Cacela wisely notes – “if we show up at his presence by ourselves, or if anything happened to us on the way, surely he would punish us gravely.” So Cacela and Cabral waited an extra day, and, on April 5, they left Paro with a safe conduct, “people and horses for the rest of the way,” still in the company of the mentioned lama.

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