The Roman Catholic Church
arrived in the Kingdom of Kongo
shortly after the first Portuguese explorers
reached its shores in 1483. After an exchange of hostages, the ruling king, Nzinga a Nkuwu
agreed to allow missionaries to come to his country and to learn more about Christianity
. The missionaries arrived early in 1491, and baptized the provincial ruler of Soyo
whose lands were located on the Atlantic
coast, before moving to the royal capital in April and May. According to Portuguese accounts, Nzinga a Nkuwu was further convinced to the Christian message when he witnessed what he and the priests both regarded as a miracle: two of the king's subjects dreamed simultaneously of beautiful woman who urged the king to be baptized, and a third one reported finding a cross shaped stone near a riverbed (normally considered a particularly auspicious spot in Kongo cosmology
Nzinga a Nkuwu was baptized on 3 May 1491, taking the name João
in honor of the Portuguese king
) as were many of his officials and nobles and, after some hesitation, the women of the royal and allied households. Further missionaries arrived at the court of Nzinga a Nkuwu, and a good number also accompanied his son Afonso Mvemba a Nzinga
to his provincial post of Nsundi
. Afonso, in turn became a great champion of the faith, even though, according to Afonso's subsequent account of the events, his father cooled in the faith, and many of the Kongolese who had been baptized turned away.
Reign of King......