Anthroponyms seta COUROS, Mateus de (1569-1632)

Clergy of the Society of Jesus who worked mostly in Japan. He was born in Lisbon in 1569 and died in Japan on 12th July, 1632. Having studied in Coimbra, he joined the Society of Jesus on 22nd December, 1583. In 1586 he left for India and then went on to Japan on 21st July, 1590. In 1592 he was studying Theology at Todos os Santos College but in March 1596 he went to Macau in order to receive the sacraments; in August of the same year he returned to Japan. When he arrived in Japan in 1598, he was appointed companion of D. Luís Cerqueira, for the priest Valentim de Carvalho, who fulfilled that office since Lisbon, could not speak the Japanese language. He was also the ecclesiastical notary. On 8th December, 1602, he professed the four vows in Nagasaki. In October 1603 he was still there and taught Examen of Consciousness at the college. In September 1605 he was the superior of the Hiroshima residence, and was still there in October 1607. In 1609 he was appointed rector of the Arima College which, due to political instability, was transferred to Nagasaki in 1612. That year he suffered from a serious illness that, on several occasions, caused paralysis of all limbs. The illness manifested itself through the following years, leaving him incapacitated; because of that, a Japanese brother was at his service. He left for exile in Macau in November 1614 but in August of the following year, in spite of still being ill, he returned to Japan. On 18th July, 1617, he was appointed provincial, an office he fulfilled together with the one of governor of the bishopric. During the first years of clandestineness a Chinese foreman gave him shelter; he would dress up as a Portuguese, Japanese or Chinese merchant and, for that purpose, would wear a fake beard. In 1620-21 he was in Katsusa. During his years of clandestineness he used the Japanese name Jehiun, and then Josuy, for the first name became known. On 1st January, 1624, the Superior General ordered him, and if he felt strong enough for that, to leave Japan but the provincial prevented him from going. After the capture of priest Francisco Pacheco on 18th December, 1625, he went back to the mission and was the vice provincial until he died. He was never captured. In 1612 he was assigned the compilation of a History of the Church in Japan, but the assignment was later given to João Rodrigues. He was frequently accused of being too much involved in the Portuguese cause and of interacting poorly with foreigners; he was also against the admission of native clergy. He spoke the Japanese language very well and even preached in Japanese.

Monumenta Historica Japoniae, dir. de Josef Franz Schütte S. J., Roma, Institutum Historicum Societatis Iesu, 1975. COSTA, João Paulo Oliveira e, O Cristianismo no Japão e o Episcopado de D. Luís de Cerqueira, dissertação de doutoramento em História apresentada à Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas da Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Lisboa, 1998 (texto fotocopiado). SCHÜTTE, Josef Franz, S.J., Introductio ad historiam Societatis Iesu in Japonia, 1549-1650. Ac Proemium ad Catálogos Japoniae Ededos ad Edenda Societatis Jesu Monumenta Historica Japoniae, Roma, Institutum Historicum Societatis Iesu, 1968.

Author: Helena Rodrigues
Translated by: Maria das Mercês Pacheco

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