Rhodes, Alexandre de

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Rhodes, Alexandre de

biographical name

(born March 15, 1591, Avignon, France—died March 5, 1660, Esfahan, Iran) French missionary, the first Frenchman to visit Vietnam. He established a Jesuit mission in the region in 1619 and later estimated that he had converted some 6,700 Vietnamese to Roman Catholicism. Expelled in 1630, he spent 10 years teaching philosophy in Macau before returning, only to be exiled again in 1646. The Vatican sponsored a Vietnamese missionary program in 1658 based on de Rhodes's ideas, but he himself was sent to Iran (Persia), where he died. He wrote a Vietnamese-Latin-Portuguese dictionary and perfected the romanized script Quoc-ngu (developed by earlier missionaries), which facilitated communicating Christian doctrines to the Vietnamese and increased the literacy rate among the population.

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