Jesuit Missionary Francis Xavier Arrives in Goa, India Hot

Jesuit Missionary Francis Xavier Arrives in Goa, India

Conversion of Paravas by Francis Xavier in 1542
Source: Wikipedia

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Saint Francis Xavier, a Jesuit missionary, arrives at Goa, the capital of the Portuguese colonies in India. While in Goa, Xavier will establish a successful and growing Christianizing movement, especially among the lower castes.

This is not, however, due entirely (or perhaps even much at all) to people becoming convinced about the truth of Francis Xavier's message. Instead, it seems to have more to do with the association between Christianity and power.

David L. Edwards writes in Christianity: The First Two Thousand Years:

"Before his death ten years later, on an island within sight of the coast of China, he had gone through Sri Lanka and the Indonesian islands to Japan. He knew only a few words of the local languages. It was at first his practice to baptize as many as possible and it seems probable that most of the new Christians accepted the ceremony not because they believed in Christianity or knew much about it but because they hoped that some of the magic which had brought the Portuguese so dramatically to Asia would touch and protect them."

The advent of orthodox Catholic Christianity will also lead to persecution for the much older form of Christianity currently in India:

"The Portuguese colonists in Goa were determined to destroy Hindu 'idolatry' and to impose their version of Catholicism on the 'St Thomas' or 'Syrian' Christians who had survived for many centuries if not from the time of the apostle. Up to a point they succeeded: Hindus under their rule were not allowed to practice their religion in public, the records of the St Thomas Christians were all destroyed.

In 1559 their frightened clergy accepted the Catholic archbishop's authority, and after the failure of a revolt in 1653 two-thirds submitted again to the 'Latin rite'. But temples destroyed in one place could be rebuilt elsewhere; devotions banned in public could be maintained at home; and the St Thomas tradition, although shattered into fragments, was not forgotten.

Having achieved this 'conversion' of the territory under their government or influence, the Portuguese left the archbishopric of Goa vacant for long periods and did what they could to prevent the appointment by the papacy in the 18305 of 'vicars apostolic' (not ordinary bishops) to lead the mission in the rest of India.

Thus Goa never became the missionary base once intended. Local Catholics were divided, for the St Thomas Christians who had agreed to be Roman Catholics were prevented from using their 'Syrian' liturgy outside a limited area (the future state of Kerala)."
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