Silence

Fernão Mendes Pinto Pilgrimage

You have probably missed Martin  Scorcese’s movie  ’Silence “, released in 2016,  which flew under the radar from the view of the filmgoers for the basic reasons of being too long for conventional theatre screening (161 minutes ), having  “R “rating and, above all, for being a “cult” movie dealing with contentious religious material.

The narrative is based in a novel by Shūsaku Endō’s, a Japanese author, who was a Roman Catholic himself, explores the subject of the Portuguese Jesuits missionary evangelism in 16th century Japan, a theme tied to Christianity that is always present in the books that he wrote.

Shūsaku Endō must undoubtedly come across Fernao Mendes Pinto’s “Pilgrimage

The extensive knowledge of Shūsaku Endō’ of the Portuguese Jesuits missionary history in Japan must undoubtedly come across Fernao Mendes Pinto’s “Pilgrimage”, an autobiographical memoir recorded of his voyages in the land of the rising sun.

The “Pilgrimage” is an essential book to investigate the early Portuguese missionaries’ presence in Japan and in the Far East in a time when no other European had dared to go.

Mendes Pinto claims in his chronicles that he was the first t European to set foot and to initiate trade with Japan.

The most astounding claim is that Mendes Pinto introduced the “arquebus ”  rifle to Japan.

According to his words the Portuguese firearm accuracy of the weapon in the hands one of Fernão’s mates, while duck hunting, was noticed by one of the “ daimyōs”( regional warlords) of the land who ordered the instant reproduction of the gun.

The most astounding claim is that Mendes Pinto introduced the “arquebus ”  rifle to Japan.

In less than a year, there were thousands of the Portuguese replica rifles, called “tanegashima ” by the armouries, which were intensively used during of Japan period of civil wars of the early 17th century, and the supremacy of “Edo (today’s Tokyo) imperial   “shogunate”.

It is debatable if the Portuguese were responsible for the origin of Japan’s belligerent industry of the following centuries, but it is certain that the author of the “Silence” must have come in contact with Fernão voyages to serve as an inspiration of his work.

 It was, therefore, appropriate for Scorceses movie to commence in the steps Saint Paul’s 17th-century Catholic religious monastery of  Macau, the backdrops of Fernao Mendes Pinto service to the Portuguese Crown and his association with Jesuit missionaries.

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