Monday, July 19, 2010


Henrique Henriques (also known as Anrique Anriquez) (1520–1600), was Portuguese Jesuit priest and missionary who spent most of his life and missionary activities in South India. After initial years in Goa he moved to Tamil Nadu where he mastered Tamil and wrote several books including a dictionary. He is considered to be the first European Tamil scholar.

He strongly believed that books of religious doctrines should be in local languages and to this end he wrote books in Tamil. His efforts made Tamil the first non-European language to be printed. Hence sometimes called as The Father of the Tamil Press. After his death his mortal remains were buried in Our Lady of Snows Basilica in Tuticorin, India.

Apart from being the first to produce a Tamil-Portuguese Dictionary, he set up the first Tamil press and printed books in Tamil script. The first such book printed in Tamil script was Thambiran Vanakkam (தம்பிரான் வணக்கம்) (1578), a 16-page translation of the Portuguese "Doctrina Christam". It was followed by Kirisithiyaani Vanakkam (கிரிசித்தியானி வணக்கம்)(1579).[5] These were works of catechism, containing basic prayers of Catholicism.

He also printed Flos Sanctorum in Tamil (1586).[4] This book contains the lives of Saints. With his efforts Tamil became the first non-European language to be printed in a printing press. Hence, he is sometimes referred to as Father of the Tamil press[8]

Henriques is the first known European Tamil scholar.

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