Little Known Black History Fact: King Alfonso of the Kongo

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    King Alfonso I, also referred to as “the Apostle of the Kongo,” served as King of the Kongo in Africa from the early part of the 1500’s through 1542. He was the first of the Portuguese Kings to rule in the Kongo. He left a legacy as the king who worked to spread Catholicism throughout the Kongo, abandoning the rituals and customs that were practices in the land. King Alfonso I worked to keep the Christian practices through his son, Henrique, who was sent to Portugal to study the priesthood and returned as the first African Bishop to the Kongo in 1521. The Vatican recognized Henrique as a bishop.

    King Alfonso I came into power through the death of King João I, who died in 1506. Alfonso’s mother kept the death of King João secret so as to give her son time to gain followers throughout the Kongo and take the throne.

    The new king’s opposition came mostly from his own his half brother, Mpanzu a Kitima, who opposed the idea of Christianity.

    According to the stories recited by Alfonso, he defeated his brother’s opposition when his brother and his men saw an apparition of Saint James the Great and five heavenly horsemen in the sky.

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