Sunday, December 2, 2012

St. Francis Xavier

It is St. Francis Xavier's feast tomorrow (December 3). Francis Xavier was a pioneering proselytizer who took God's word to Portuguese India, Indonesia and Japan.

St. Francis Xavier died in 1552 and his in-corruptible body is housed in a casket in a Basilica in Goa, India. The right forearm, which Xavier used to bless and baptize his converts is on display at the main Jesuit church in Rome. All of this is believed by the devotees to be a sign that this dude was God's own! There will always be naysayers. But we won't fall prey to Satan's treachery, will we? Not today!

If you read some of the letters he sent back home, you can see his love for the locals, his respect for their customs. He was truly a piece of work! Here are some choice snippets.
We have in these parts a class of men among the pagans who are called Brahmins. They keep up the worship of the gods, the superstitious rites of religion, frequenting the temples and taking care of the idols. They are as perverse and wicked a set as can anywhere be found, and I always apply to them the words of holy David, "from an unholy race and a wicked and crafty man deliver me, O Lord." They are liars and cheats to the very backbone.
If it were not for the opposition of the Brahmins, we should have them all embracing the religion of Jesus Christ.
Here is the letter in its entirety.

But we have more to be thankful to St. Francis Xavier. In case you thought the inquisition was a European thing, think again! Goa had its very own inquisition! Though St. Francis Xavier did not live to see it in action in Goa, he requested for it. But it was eight years after his death that the inquisition finally came visiting. From 1560 to 1812 when it was abolished, the holy office of inquisition did what it took to keep the Indians pure and free of heresy.

Richard Zimler, author of Guardian of the Dawn, which documents the Portuguese Inquisition in India says,
A large number of Hindus were first converted and then persecuted from 1560 all the way to 1812!
Over that period of 252 years, any man, woman, or child living in Goa could be arrested and tortured for simply whispering a prayer or keeping a small idol at home. Many Hindus -- and some former Jews, as well -- languished in special Inquisitional prisons, some for four, five, or six years at a time.
Well, God's work has to be done. No one claims it isn't messy, right?

Let's not forget all this when we pay tribute to Francis Xavier this day as we celebrate his feast.

1 comment:

  1. Given the time period - it was normal in those days to establish the national religion and destroy the false religions. Muslims did that in their territories. False ideologies need to be suppressed otherwise it leads to revolts and threats to national security. Anyway, who are you to judge what happened 400 years ago with the eyes of today? Those were a totally different era, society was different, no democracy, kings ruled, caste ism rampant. At least the Portuguese with Francis Xavier's help ended that practice in Goa. Go chill man and have some beer.