STEPHENS (Stevens), Thomas (Thomaz/Tomás Estevão)

STEPHENS (Stevens), Thomas (Thomaz/Tomás Estevão/Estevam/Esteves, also known as Padre Busten/Buston). Bushton, Wiltshire 1549 (?) — Salcete 1619. S.J. British Missionary in India. Early Marathi scholar and author. Son of merchant Thomas and Jane St. Educated in Winchester, perhaps studied at Oxford. Adopting Catholic faith he went to Rome and joined Jesuits in 1575. Arrived in Goa in 1579 and remained in India until his death. Ordained priest 1580. He was five years Rector of the Jesuit College at Rachol in Salsette, then parish priest in several congregations in Salsette. In Goa he also worked on behalf of the first English merchants in India, who had been arrested by the Portuguese. He corresponded with his father and brother; two letters on Goa were published by Purchas. His Doutrina was written in the spoken dialect of Goa, Khristapurāṇa in the style of classical Marāṭhī poetry.

Publications: Doutrina Christam em Lingoa Bramana Canari. Rachol 1922 (the first book printed in Konkani), ed. by M. Saldanha. Lisbon 1945.

Arte da lingoa Canarim. Rev. by D. Ribeiro et al. Rachol 1640 (Konkani grammar), new ed. by J. H. da Cunha Rivara as Grammatica da Lingua Concani. Nova Goa 1857.

Khristapurāṇa (Puranna da Vinda e Vida do Christo), a Christian Purāṇa in Marathi, printed in Roman script 1616, 1649 and 1654, but no copies are preserved. From manuscripts edited by J. L. Saldanha, Mangalore 1907, then several editions (N. Falcao 2009).

A few letters preserved, n.b. A. K. Priolkar, “Two recently discovered letters of Fr. Th.St.”, JnlUnivBombay N.S. 25:2 (Arts Number 31), 1956, 114-123 (to the Jesuit general in Rome, 1601 & 1608).

Sources: Oaten 1909, 105f.; Prasad 1980, 1-22; Wikipedia with further references.

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