Jesuit missionaries: “a masterpiece of humanity”

Four centuries ago, Jesuits embarked upon a bold missionary experiment that was to transform the lives of thousands of native South Americans. Maurice Whitehead considers its significance

Evening light sweeps over the ruins of the Jesuit mission church at Trinidad de Paraná, Paraguay, where the bell tower of the site's first of two churches stands. Scores of Jesuit missions in the area where Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil meet were built in the 17th century and were abandoned when the Jesuits were expelled in the 18th century. (Photo by Kevin Moloney via Getty Images)

This article was first published in the December 2009 edition of BBC History Magazine

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