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PEDRO PAEZ (1564-1622)

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Originally appearing in Volume V20, Page 449 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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PEDRO PAEZ (1564-1622), Jesuit missionary to Abyssinia, was born at Olmedo in Old Castile in 1564. Having entered the Society of Jesus, he was set apart for foreign mission service, and sent to Goa in 1588. Within a year he and a fellow missionary were dispatched from that place to Abyssinia to act as spiritual directors to the Portuguese residents. On his way thither, he fell into the hands of pirates at Dhofar and was sent to Sanaa, capital of the Yemen, where he was detained for seven years by the pasha as a slave. Having been redeemed by his order in 1596, he spent some years in mission work on the west coast of India, and it was not until 1603 that he again set out for Abyssinia, and landed at the port of Massawa. At the headquarters of his order, in Fremona, he soon acquired the two chief dialects of the country, translated a catechism, and set about the education of some Abyssinian children. He also established a reputation as a preacher, and having been summoned to court, succeeded in vanquishing the native priests and in converting Za-Denghel, the negus, who wrote to the pope and the king of Spain for more missionaries, an act of zeal which involved him in civil war with the Abyssinian priests (who dreaded the influence of Paez) and ultimately cost him his life (Oct. 1604). Paez, who is said to have been the first European to visit the source of the Blue Nile, died of fever in 1622. In addition to the translation of the Catechism, Paez is supposed to be the author of a treatise De Abyssinorum erroribus and a history of Ethiopia (ed. C. Beccari in Rerum aethiopicarum scriptores occidentales inediti a saeculo XVI. ad XIX. (1905). See A. de Backer, Bibliotheque de la Compagnie de Jesus (ed. C. Sommervogel) vi. (1895) ; W. D. Cooley in Bulletin de la societe de geographie (1872), 6th series, vol. iii.
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