Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 1.djvu/861

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781

ASIA


781


ASIA


asked to be once more united witli Rome lus of old. The stream of conversions became more pronounced and rapid during the sixtcentli and seventeentli cciiturios, and has continued so till our own day. Franciscan, Dominican, t"armelit«, and .[(•suit missions were established all over Asia with the result that a large number of Nestorians and Monophysitos have long since renounced their heretical creeds and embraced Catholicism. The same gratifying movement took pla<e in the schi.s- matii; (ireek Cluirch of Syria and Asia Minor as well as in the Monophysite Cliurch of Armenia.

Actual Condition of the Christian Church. — The history of Catholicism in Asia is intimately connected with the rise and progress of the Asiatic Catholic missions. The merit of having first dis- closed to the West, and to Rome in particular, the mysterious and impenetrable East:us well!is the condition of Oriental Christianity undoubtedly be- longs to the Crusaders. Profiting by this informa- tion, and ever solieitous for (lie welfare of the Church of Christ, tlic popes were the first to seize the oppor- tunity for a Catholic propaganda in the Far, as well as in the near East. Towards the end of the thirteenth century, Innocent IV, Gregory X, and Honorius II sent the Franciscan missionaries, I.,orenzo of Portugal, Giovanni Piano di Carpine, Wilhelm Ruysbrock (de Rubruquis), Giovanni of Cremona, and otliers, as their representative delegates, to the great Mogul, Kublai Khan, on behalf of the Oriental Christians. In 1300, the Franciscan, Giovanni di Montecorvino, was sent by Benedict .\I on a similar mission to China, where he was sub.seinienlly ap- p<iinted bishop with seven auxiliary bishops by Clement V, and where he died in l.'i30. In KilS, the Dominican Francesco di Perugia wjis appointed Bisliop of Sultaniah, in Tatary. by Pope John XXII, and in i:?21-'2S, anotlier Dominican mi.ssionary, Gior- dano (!atalani, ac(om]>anicd by three Franciscan friars, made two suci'cssful journevs to India, to the coast of Malabar, to Ceylon, and "to China. In 1323, the Franciscan, Odorico di Pordenone, visited Ceylon, Java, Borneo, Khan-Balikh, Tibet, and Persia, returning in 1331 after having baptized more than 20,000 pagaas. In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the Franciscan friars who were appointed by the popes as the official guardians of the sanctu- aries of Jerusalem and the Holy Land, began t«  extend their missionary activity to North Syria, North-west Mesopotamia and ICgj'pt, while the Car- melites advanced into Mesopotamia, Babylonia, and Persia. In 1501, the Franciscan. Enrico of Coimbra, accompanied the Portuguese, Alvarez Cabral. into Calicut, Cochin, Goa, and Cranganore; and in 1,'>21, Catholic missionaries first penetrat<;d into the Philip- pine Islands. During the years 15-11— If), St. Francis Xavier evangelized India, the coasts of Malabar and Travancore, and Ceylon; in 1.545 Malacca; in 1546 the Moluccits; from 1.549-51 Japan, and in 1.551, while on his way to China, ho died after an apostolic career not less wonderful and unique than successful and rich in results.

With the mission of St. Francis Xavier in India and the founding of the Society of Jesus, there began a new era for Catholic missionary enterprise, an era of indomitable zeal and exceptional success. Jesuits, Dominicans, Franciscans, and Carmelites were now eagerly v'j'ing with one another for the Christianization of Asia. Naturally enough the numerous Nestorian, Jacobite, Armenian, and Greek scliismatic communities and churches scat- tered througli the Turkish dominion, in .SjTia, Asia Minor, .Armenia. Mesopotamia. Babylonia, and through Persia attracted their first attention; and, thanks to their noble missionary efforts and their zeal, great numliers of schismatic Orientals with many of their bishops, priests, and monks


joined the Catholic Church. Catholic mi.ssions and schools, seminaries, and churches, lio.s|)itals. and other charitable institutions were established among all these schismatic Oriental Churches in Asiatic Turkey and Persia, sis well jis among the heathen in t^hina, India, Korea, Siam, Cochin-China, and Jiipan. Soon after. Catholic dioceses of the Latin Rite, Apostolic prefectures, and Apostolic delegations were created and permanently established, with the gratifying result that now, at the bcgiiming of the twentieth century, the Catholic Church is seen firmly established in every- Asiatic region, side by side with Brahminism, lluddhism, Confucianism, Mohammedanism, Judaism, Nestorianism, Mono- physitism, the schismatic CJreek Church, and Protes- tantism.

The Oriental Churches of Western Asia (Turkey and Persia), however, are for us of particular interest, an they re|)resent old and venerable national Churches, having their own hierarchy, rites, liturgical languages and usages, and ecclesiastical discipline, which had. as early as the fifth centurj', separated themselves from the Church of F{ome. They represent what we usually call Oriental Churches, and are divided as follows: (1) The Nestorian Church, extending over Babylonia and Chaldea, Mesopotamia, and Assyria, Kurdistan, Persia, and the coast of Malabar in India. (2) The Jaeoliite Church (Monophysite), which ex- tends over Syria, North-west Mesopotamia, Assyria, and Malabar. (3) The Armenian Church (Mono- physite), which extends over the whole of Armenia, Persia, Asia Minor, and part of Syria. (4) The Maronite Church, which is a branch of the Syrian Church and extends over Mount Lebanon and SjTia. (5) The Greek Church, scattered over Syria, Phrc- nicia, and Asia Minor. Another Cluirch, generally referred to as an Oriental Church, is the ('o)itic, or Abyssinian, which, being restricted to African soil, must be here omitted. It must be noted, however, that each of the above-m(?ntioned Oriental Churches, the Maronite excepted, which is entirely Catholic, is divided into two independent branches, or Churches; the one Catholic and in communion with Rome; the other schismatic and separated from Rome; each, however, having its own patriarch, bishops, priests, and local churches. They may be classified iis follows:

I — Nestorian Church.


Schismatic Nestori- Catholic Nestorians, ans, or simply Nes- commonly called

torians. Chaldeans.

II — Jacobite Church. (Monophysite.)


Schismatic Jacobites, Catholic Jacobites,

or simply Jacob- commonly eallea

ites. Catholic Syrians,

or simply SjTians.

Ill — Armenian Church.

(Monophysite.)


Schismatic Armeni- Catholic Armenians,

ans.

IV — Maronite Church.

(AU Catholic.)

V — Greek Church.

Schismatic Greeks, Catholic Greeks, eom- or Orthodox Greek monly calle<l Gra'co-

Church. Melcliite Church, or

simply Melchite. The Catholic branch of each of these Oriental Churches, although united with Rome, preserves, in common with its sister schismatic branch, its own primitive original rite, liturgj', and its own ecclesias- tical discipline and privileges, the maintenance of