Bishop Salvado and the Aborigines

George Russo describes how this enlightened priest undertook a double task - to convince the Australian government of its responsibilities and accustom the aborigines to modern life.

Of all those who emigrated to Australia in the nineteenth century only one has distinguished himself for his attitude to the aboriginal natives, Dom Rosendo Salvado, a Spaniard. Although his life and training were different from the Englishmen who colonized the Western Third of the ‘Great South Land’, Salvado became at once one of the greatest missionaries in Australia, and perhaps the best friend the Aborigines ever had.

Born at Tuy in the Spanish province of Galicia on March 1st, 1814, Salvado was the youngest son of a noble family that owned a considerable estate. He grew up in a cultured household where the Arts were cherished, and he learned music. His family had close links with the Catholic Church and, in contrast to the majority of the Spanish nobility, showed a genuine concern for the sufferings of the poor.

In his fifteenth year young Rosendo followed an elder brother and entered the Benedictine monastry of St. Martin at Santiago de Compostela. That exquisite medieval city in north-western Spain became the setting of his education until the First Republic closed all monasteries in 1835.

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