FRANCIS
XAVIER, SJ
(1506-1552)
 

 


FRANCIS XAVIER, SJ (1506-52) who arrived in India by 1542, had been empowered beforehand as papal nuncio and royal inspector, although he did not assert these prerogatives against Bishop Albuquerque of Goa, who co-operated with him loyally. St. Francis indicted the settlers’ example: “You preach Christ Crucified and yourselves crucify those who allow themselves to be duped by you,” one of the natives had complained to him. St. Francis did achieve noteworthy but unfortunately merely temporary success in reviving the colonists’ religious spirit. He then set to work among the Paravians, employing native catechists to complete the work of instruction begun in his imperfect command of the language. Next he extended his activity to Travancore, inducing its populace to destroy their idols. After a pilgrimage to the reputed tomb of St. Thomas the Apostle at Mylapur, St. Francis went on to Ceylon, Cochin, Malacca, and the Moluccas. After 1549, however, although still in supreme command of the Indian mission, he was chiefly occupied with the Far East. But after his death off the coast of China his body was brought back to Goa. Though legend has distorted and exaggerated some of his exploits, there can be no doubt that he had the gift of miracles, converted great numbers, and proved an extraordinary inspiration to foreign missionary work, both for contemporaries and those who came after. [Eberhart]


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