1580  — 1634

Antonio de Andrade

Jesuit missionary in India and Tibet.

A native of Vila de Oleiros, Portugal, de Andrade entered the Society of Jesus in 1596 at Coimbra. His desire to serve the missions in the east was fulfilled when he left Portugal in 1600 to continue his studies toward the priesthood at St. Paul’s College in Goa, India. Alter several years as a missionary on Salsette Island, north of Bombay, he returned to Goa to become rector of the college. In 1621 he was appointed superior of the mission at Agra, capital of the Mogul empire. Upon learning of reports that Christian communities existed to the northeast, he embarked on his first trip into Tibet in 1624, thereby becoming the first European missionary to cross the Himalayan mountains into Tibet. During his audience with Tibetan authorities at Tsaparang, he emphasized that he had come to preach the gospel and would not become involved in any way with Portuguese trade.

Alter receiving permission to establish a mission, he returned to Agra. The following year, with four confreres, he opened the mission at Tsaparang. The reports of his two trips were sent to Europe and were quickly translated into several languages. In late 1629 or early 1630 he left Tibet to become provincial of India from 1631 to 1634. In 1631, lamas opposed to the Tibetan Christian community (nearly 400 members) destroyed the mission station at Tsaparang. In early January of 1634, de Andrade was named visitor of the vice-province of China and the province of Japan, but he did not live to fill that position. In Goa he was a deputy of the Holy Office which was investigating an accusation of heresy against a Portuguese native, Joao Rodrigues. The latter’s son was a hired servant in the Jesuit college and apparently poisoned the water that de Andrade drank. The case could not be proved, but the young man, tainted by the accusation of murder; fled to Manila.


This article is reprinted from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, Macmillan Reference USA, copyright (c) 1998 Gerald H. Anderson, by permission of The Gale Group; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan. All rights reserved.


  • Antonio de Andrade, O Descobrimento do Tibet… em 1624, narrado em duas cartas do mesmo religioso, Francisco Maria Esteves Pereira, ed. (1921). (Giuseppe Toscano, La Prima Missione Cattolica nel Tibet (1951); Cornelis Wessels, Early Jesuit Travellers in Central Asia, 1603-1721 (1924), pp. 43-93.

About the Author

John W. Witek

Associate Professor of East Asian History, Georgetown University, Washington D.C., USA