Cristina Osswald
Macau Polytechnic University and CITCEM – Universidade do Porto. Lecturer and Researcher

The Jesuits in Macau: Art and Devotion between Japan and Europe (16th – 18th centuries)

This paper explores the leading role played by the Jesuits in Macau as intermediaries in the circulation of artistic taste and devotion during the Old Society. Alessandro Valignano conceived the College of Saint Paul in Macau to serve as the center of both China and Japan Missions. Accordingly, it should provide a Japanese environment preparing the future missionaries to this area. The notice of the double Jesuit canonization arrived in Macau in 1623. In its aftermath, Francisco Pacheco, Provincial of Japan, founded the Seminary of Saint Ignatius attached to Saint Paul for the formation of the Japanese clergy. Macau served as exile destination of many priests and Catholic laymen escaping from ferocious religious persecution in Japan. These included Giovanni Cola and further members of the celebrated Seminary of Painters. Material and technical aspects, as artistic subjects, such as the Japanese chrysanthemum and allegedly the Nau do Trato decorating the façade of the Jesuit College of S. Paulo refer to the employment of Japanese architects and artists in its construction and decoration of Jesuit major buildings in Macau. Jesuit churches in Macau were distinguished with the possession of relics and the commission of art pieces honouring them a plenty. Naturally, most of those relics concern Jesuit favourite cults and members. Due to persecution in Japan, the relic of Francis Xavier right arm was eventually put to veneration in Macau in 1619. Relics, images and religious festivals related to martyrs and martyrdom in Japan constituted a subject of their own importance within art and devotion locally and within the formation of Macau as a new centrality resulting from the early modern world on the move.