GREAT FIGURES OF THE MISSIONARY WORK – Bengal and the Kingdom of the Dragon (71)

– Joaquim Magalhães de Castro

During the Jesuits’ sojourn at the Bhutanese court, Shabdrung would order three of his monks to accompany them permanently. Two of them were very still young. One was twelve years old, “very naive and skilled,” and another nineteen, “who has particular interest in learning what he was taught.” Cacela and Cabral, taking advantage of their proximity, were catechizing them, or as the former says, instructing them “on the things of our Holy Faith.”

The author of the Relation also mentions a fourth monk, “27 years old, from a very important family” who at all times accompanied the monarch “helping him in his painting and sculpture.” Now, the so-called Lama, which the Portuguese hoped to convert one day, since he himself had been open to such a possibility, apparently had multiple artistic talents, hence Shabdrung – quite inclined to the arts, as we mentioned in previous chronicles – had chosen him as his art’s “master.” The clergyman’s talent apparently extended to other areas. He helped Father Cacela to put in correct Bhutanese – “in proper language” as he said  – the prayers and canons that the priests were translating and intended for future neophytes. Expectations were high.

One day, while reviewing a text by Estevão Cacela explaining why “the Holy Cross is a Christian sign” and another concerning the birth of Jesus Christ and “the purity of the Immaculate Virgin” the monk confessed to him that Christ’s teaching had pervaded his heart, and it “pleased him greatly.”

On another occasion, a man from a neighboring village intending to visit the so-called chapel that the priest had improvised in one of the monastery’s rooms, and after attending the Mass held there, showed a willingness to convert. With this he hoped that our Lord would forgive him a sin that made him very disconsolate, and which was, “by mistake, he had killed a man with an arrow.”

Cacela assures us that this peasant had returned to the chapel the next day, had attended the liturgy and had continued to do so as long as the Jesuits remained there. There were others who, “fond of our things, have brought their children expecting us to teach them.”

One of them had shown a particular devotion and was immensely grateful for the “mercy of Our Lord” that had given health to a son whom he had brought to us in the hope that we could heal him.

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