Sanctuary mural: St. Francis Xavier Preaching in Goa, Portuguese India .................... Buffalo Religious Arts Center - Table of Contents

St. Francis Xavier in Goa, Portuguese India
Excerpts from the Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Francis Xavier

[Francis Xavier was] born in the Castle of Xavier near Sanguesa, in Navarre, 7 April, 1506; died on the Island of Sancian near the coast of China, 2 December, 1552.

In Paris 1525-1536

In 1525, having completed a preliminary course of studies in his own country, Francis Xavier went to Paris, where he entered the collège de Sainte-Barbe. Here he met the Savoyard, Pierre Favre, and a warm personal friendship sprang up between them. It was at this same college that St. Ignatius Loyola, who was already planning the foundation of the Society of Jesus, resided for a time as a guest in 1529. He soon won the confidence of the two young men; first Favre and later Xavier offered themselves with him in the formation of the Society. Four others, Lainez, Salmerón, Rodríguez, and Bobadilla, having joined them, the seven made the famous vow of Montmartre, 15 Aug., 1534.

In Venice 1536-1537

After completing his studies in Paris and filling the post of teacher there for some time, Xavier left the city with his companions 15 November, 1536, and turned his steps to Venice, where he displayed zeal and charity in attending the sick in the hospitals. On 24 June, 1537, he received Holy orders with St. Ignatius.

In Rome 1539-1540

The following year he went to Rome, and after doing apostolic work there for some months, during the spring of 1539 he took part in the conferences which St. Ignatius held with his companions to prepare for the definitive foundation of the Society of Jesus. The order was approved verbally 3 September, and before the written approbation was secured, which was not until a year later, Xavier was appointed, at the earnest solicitation of the John III, King of Portugal, to evangelize the people of the East Indies.

In Lisbon 1540-1541

He left Rome 16 March, 1540, and reached Lisbon about June. Here he remained nine months, giving many admirable examples of apostolic zeal.

In Goa 1542-1545

On 7 April, 1541, he embarked in a sailing vessel for India, and after a tedious and dangerous voyage landed at Goa, 6 May, 1542. The first five months he spent in preaching and ministering to the sick in the hospitals. He would go through the streets ringing a little bell and inviting the children to hear the word of God. When he had gathered a number, he would take them to a certain church and would there explain the catechism to them.

About October, 1542, he started for the pearl fisheries of the extreme southern coast of the peninsula, desirous of restoring Christanity ... He devoted almost three years to the work of preaching to the people of Western India, converting many, and reaching in his journeys even the Island of Ceylon.

The body of the saint is still enshrined at Goa in the church which formerly belonged to the Society. In 1614 by order of Claudius Acquaviva, General of the Society of Jesus, the right arm was severed at the elbow and conveyed to Rome, where the present altar was erected to receive it in the church of the Gesu.

The Portuguese in India

The history of the Portuguese conquests in India dates from the arrival of Vasco da Gama in 1498, followed by the acquisition of Cranganore in 1500, Cochin in 1506, Goa in 1510, etc. From the year 1500, missionaries of the different orders (Franciscans, Dominicans, Jesuits, Augustinians, etc.) flocked out with the conquerors, and began at once to build churches along the coast districts wherever the Portuguese power made itself felt.

The city of Goa

The city of Goa, originally a fortress in the hands first of the Hindus and then of the Mohammedans, was taken by Albuquerque in 1510. As soon as he became master of the place he built the first church--that of St. Catherine, who thus became the patron of the new city. This was the beginning of a vast series of churches, large and small, numbering over fifty, with convents, hospices and other institutions attached, which made Goa one of the most interesting ecclesiastical cities in the world....

Most of the churches have disappeared, leaving nothing but a cross to mark their site. Others are in various stages of decay, while a few are kept in repair. The finest of those still standing are grouped about the great square: the cathedral (built 1571), in which alone the full liturgy is kept up by a body of resident canons, and adjoining which is an archiepiscopal palace, the Bom Jesus church (Jesuit, built c. 1586), containing the body of St. Francis Xavier incorrupt in a rich shrine;

Page by Chuck LaChiusa
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