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A history of christian missionaries in exploration

A mission centre established at Yuriria, Mexico in 1550 During the Age of Discoverythe Catholic Church inaugurated a major effort to spread Christianity in the New World and to convert the Native Americans and other indigenous people.

The missionary effort was a major part of, and a partial justification for the colonial efforts of European powers such as SpainFrance and Portugal.

Christian Missions to the indigenous peoples ran hand-in-hand with the colonial efforts of Catholic nations. In the Americas and other colonies in Asia and Africa, most missions were run by religious orders such as the AugustiniansFranciscansJesuits and Dominicans. In both Portugal and Spainreligion was an integral part of the state and evangelization was seen as having both secular and spiritual benefits. Wherever these powers attempted to expand their territories or influence, missionaries would soon follow.

How Missionaries Work

By the Treaty of Tordesillasthe two powers divided the world between them into exclusive spheres of influence, trade and colonization. The Roman Catholic world order was challenged by the Netherlands and England. Theoretically, it was repudiated by Grotius 's Mare Liberum. Portugal's and Spain's colonial policies were also challenged by the Roman Catholic Church itself. The Vatican founded the Congregatio de Propaganda Fide in 1622 and attempted to separate the churches from the influence of the Iberian kingdoms.

Spanish missions in the Americas Adriaan van Oss wrote: If we had to choose a single, irreducible idea underlying Spanish colonialism in the New World, it would undoubtedly be the propagation of the Catholic faith. Unlike such other European as England or the Netherlands, Spain insisted on converting the natives of the lands it conquered to its state religion.

Introduced in the context of Iberian expansionism, Catholicism outlived the empire itself and continues to thrive, not as an anachronistic vestige among the elite, but as a vital current even in remote mountain villages.

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Catholicism remains the principal colonial heritage of Spain in America. More than any set of economic relationships with the outside world, more even than the language first brought to America's shores in 1492, the Catholic religion continues to permeate Spanish-American culture today, creating an overriding cultural unity which transcends the political and national boundaries dividing the continent.

Christianity and colonialism

However, often initial efforts were questionably successful, as the indigenous people added Catholicism into their longstanding traditional ceremonies and beliefs. The many native expressions, forms, practices, and items of art could be considered idolatry and prohibited or destroyed by Spanish missionaries, military, and civilians.

This included religious items, sculptures, and jewelry made of gold or silver, which were melted down before shipment to Spain. When more efficient they did evangelize in native languages. Introduced writing systems to the Quechua, Nahuatl and Guarani peoples may have contributed to their expansion. Over time it was intended that a normal church structure would be established in the mission areas.

  1. The establishment of Communist rule in 1949 officially suppressed, sometimes violently, all religions, forcing Christians to go underground. Protestant missionaries arrived after the Americans defeated the Spanish in 1898, and almost all mainline Protestant denominations are established there.
  2. The establishment of Communist rule in 1949 officially suppressed, sometimes violently, all religions, forcing Christians to go underground.
  3. Try our 3 most popular, or select from our huge collection of unique and thought-provoking newsletters. When Vasco da Gama arrived in India in 1498, sure enough, a missionary was with him.
  4. The missionary effort was a major part of, and a partial justification for the colonial efforts of European powers such as Spain , France and Portugal.

The process began with the formation of special jurisdictions, known as apostolic prefectures and apostolic vicariates. These developing churches eventually graduated to regular diocesan status with the appointment of a local bishop. After decolonizationthis process increased in pace as church structures altered to reflect new political-administrative realities.