Silveira, Gonçalo da

Catholic Church (Jesuit)

Gonçalo da Silveira Gonçalo da Silveira was the Jesuit protomartyr of southern Africa. Born in Almeirim, Portugal, Silveira became a Jesuit in 1543 and gained a reputation as a preacher. In 1556 he was sent as provincial to Goa, India, where he collaborated closely with the viceroy. When the Jesuits received the news that Mozambique seemed ready for evangelization, Silveira and two of his confreres were sent to Mozambique, where they arrived in February 1560. The motives of this mission were not purely religious; the viceroy was interested in the riches of the “goldland,” and Silveira was also in favor of making the land’s resources accessible to Portugal. The Jesuits first evangelized in Inhambane. At Tongue, Silveira baptized the king, Gamba. In December he arrived at the court of Monomotapa, who received him personally and accepted baptism on January 20, 1561. Silveira was highly regarded by the nobles and the people and by March he had baptized about 300. Then Muslim traders and representatives of the traditional religion accused Silveira of being a spy and sorcerer. The young king changed his mind, and on his command Silveira was strangled to death by soldiers during the night of March 15.

Fritz Kollbrunner, SMB


Bertha Leite, D. Gonçalo da Silveira (1946).

Joseph Wicki, ed., Documenta Indica, vols. 3-7 (1954-1962).

This article is reproduced, with permission, from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, copyright © 1998, by Gerald H. Anderson, W. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan. All rights reserved.