Abstract

The poem, Silence: The Experience of Sebastian Rodrigues, ST, is written as a reflection and meditation on the book Silence, by End6 Shtisaku. The poem describes emotively the life in Japan of the missionary priest, Fr. Sebastian Rodrigues, SJ. He had left Portugal with two other priests, Francisco Garrpe and Juan de Santa Marta, to investigate the truth of whether Fr. Christovao Ferreira, their former teacher, had apostatized or experienced glorious martyrdom. It was impossible for these three young Jesuits to believe that Ferreira had apostatized; in their belief they represented the clergy of Portugal (Endo, 1976,19-32).

The poem is set in the year 1627 when the Jesuits learn of Ferreira's apostasy. The three Jesuits arrive in Macao in 1638. They meet Fr. Valignano, rector of the missionary college of Macao, who warns them of the dangers of going to Japan, and who eventually and reluctantly gives them permission to enter Japan. Juan de Santa Marta becomes too sick to go and is left behind. Rodrigues and Garrpe set sail secretly for Japan with a drunken and untrustworthy Japanese man, Kichijiro, whom they had met in Macao (26-48).

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