OLU SEBASTIAN (PRINCE DOMINGO)
The young SEBASTIAN was as good a Christian as it was possible for him to be in all the circumstances. When his father died in 1597 he became the Olu of WARRI.
He was naturally deeply interested in the Portuguese Connection. We do not know whether his Coronation included some of the rites which tradition would have demanded.
It is unlikely that there were any Portuguese Missionaries present during his coronation and so he may have blended Christian and Traditional practices.
The lack of Priests remained an obstacle to the general conversion of the people. The accession of a Christian King to the ITSEKIRI Throne did not by itself produce Priests to take Services and Administer the Sacraments, nor was there a Church for the Olu and such of his people as had become Christians.
But the Portuguese could not afford to allow WARRI to revert to Paganism. In 1580 Portugal and Spain had become one Country under the administration of the most devout Catholic Prince in Europe, King Philip of Spain and the Christian World became more sharply divided than before between Catholics and Protestants.
Any new National Convert was a Victory for Roman Catholicism, and the Portuguese Authorities, aware of Olu SEBASTIAN’s difficulties encouraged traders to visit his Kingdom and sought to persuade Merchants to finance Missionary Enterprise. In this they had very little success.
Despairing of effective Portuguese support, Olu SEBASTIAN decided to send his own Son to Portugal for Education in Theology and the Rites and practices of the Church.
Being a man of Progressive Ideas who saw great value in European Statecraft he wanted his Son also to take advantage of his stay in Portugal to see how that State was governed so that he could come back to help reorganize the Administration of the Kingdom of Warri.
He hoped by this means not only to ensure the continuity of Christianity in his Country but to encourage the Portuguese Merchants to come to trade with a Christian State.
The young Prince called “OYEOMASA” according to Itsekiri Tradition was happy at the prospect of seeing the outside world and in the year 1600, he boarded a Portuguese Ship for Europe.
He landed in Portugal before going to Spain to see King Philip |||. Prince Domingo, as he was known in Portugal, was well received by the King, who placed him in the care of the Viceroy of Portugal.
It was a trying period for the host Country. Spain had been one of the wealthiest Countries in the world during the Sixteenth Century. But at the time that the young Prince went to Portugal, Spain was already in decline. English Buccaneers were plundering Spanish Colonies of Mexico and Peru on which the Spanish Treasury was all too dependent.
At the same time, Spain, as the foremost Champion of Roman Catholicism in Europe, was fighting to bring back Protestant Countries like England to the Catholic fold.
Twelve years before Domingo set foot on Portuguese soil, Spain had decided to invade England with a great Armada. The result was a disaster for Spain. The Spanish fleet had been effectively destroyed and Spanish finances crippled.
It was during this period of financial strain to the whole of the Spanish-Portuguese Empire that the young Prince was brought to Portugal to be Educated.
King Philip, however, was generous towards Domingo whom he allowed a pension of 200,000 Reis to be paid out of the National Treasury. Arrangements were soon completed for him to begin School.
He was placed in the HIERONYMITE COLLEGE at COIMBRA where he had his preliminary training for two years before proceeding to the JESUIT COLLEGE in LISBON. Here he was to study LATIN and other Subjects for Four Years.
In the struggle against Protestantism, the Catholics had decided to put their house in order. A meeting of all the Catholic Powers had been held at TRENT to formulate the dogma which all Catholics were to accept; books which deviated from accepted Catholic Practice were listed and banned.
At the same time the Jesuit Order was founded by Ignatius Loyola, as a Militant Catholic Order to fight against the forces of Protestantism and spread Catholic Doctrine to all Foreign Lands.
It was to one of their Colleges that the young Prince was now sent for his final training for Four years.
The fact that he was placed at the Jesuit College indicates that the Portuguese wanted to make the Prince a Priest.
This was reasonable if there was to be some continuity in the Religion at WARRI where it had become virtually impossible to persuade Portuguese Priests to go.
The Portuguese forgot however that Prince DOMINGO was the heir to the throne and that he therefore had to marry.
END OF PART ONE