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This volume constitutes the first English translation of Latin letters relating to the Jesuit mission in Ethiopia. It covers a period beginning shortly after the accession of Emperor Susənyos, who would convert to Catholicism in 1612 and declare Roman Catholicism the religion of Ethiopia in 1621, to the ejection of the Jesuits by Susənyos’s son Fasilädäs in 1633 and the suppression of the mission over the course of the following decade. The letters document a fascinating encounter between Western and African Christianities and detailed accounts of the theological, political, and educational activities of the Jesuit mission, as well as the significant role played by Ethiopian aristocratic and royal women in resisting the imposition of Western Catholicism.
Much of the official correspondence of the mission remained inaccessible to readers without knowledge of Latin, including all the letters of the head of the mission, Patriarch Mendes, who conducted his correspondence mostly in Latin. The translations by Jessica Wright and Leon Grek are accompanied by a substantial historical introduction by Leonardo Cohen, and an extensive glossary by Wendy Laura Belcher and Emily Dalton. The volume as a whole is a valuable resource for readers with or without access to the letters in the original Latin, and to scholars of Ethiopian history, African studies, colonial and postcolonial studies, and Jesuit and missionary history.