This report contains the gist of a conversation that the IndiaFacts team had with Robert Rosario, an activist and leader of the Konkani Christian Victims of Francis Xavier’s Atrocities group based in Mangalore.
For the first time there has been opposition within the Christian community to the upcoming public display of remains of Jesuit missionary Francis Xavier, said to be a saint and miracle worker who lived about 500 years ago.
Francis Xavier’s corpse—alleged to have been preserved though some claim it is the mummified body of a different priest—will be displayed to the public in Bom Jesus Cathedral, Old Goa starting on 22 November this year up to 4 January 2015.
However, not all seems to be well. A section in the Christian community has formed a pressure group named Konkani Christian Victims of Francis Xavier’s Atrocities (referred to hereafter as Victims) and have begun an agitation on the grounds that they are the descendants of the victims of Xavier’s atrocities. Their demand is to have Xavier’s body sent back to his home country, Spain. They have also begun a nationwide signature campaign to press for the demand.
Catholic religious leaders portray Francis Xavier as a person who rendered signal service to the Church by converting large numbers of Hindus to Christianity, and also as a saint and miracle worker. Therefore, these leaders justify his exposition and say that there’s nothing wrong in keeping his body for public display so that people of faith can pay their respects to him.
However, the Victims say that it is 53 years since Portuguese rule ended in Goa. The continued presence of Xavier’s corpse in India is an insult to India, and it must be dispatched to Portugal as soon as possible. The Victims also plan to petition the Government of Goa and the Central Government.
Francis Xavier, who holds an esteemed place in the pantheon of Catholic saints, was a Jesuit priest from Spain in the service of the King of Portugal. He was born in Spain in 1506 and settled down in Goa in 1543 to undertake missionary activities in the coastal districts of what is now known as Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
History records his inhumanity in quite graphic detail. He was an advocate of destroying temples and forced conversion and asked King João III of Portugal to send the Inquisition to Goa. Though he died in 1552 before the Inquisition arrived in 1560, historians agree that he was aware of thePortuguese Inquisition‘s extreme brutality. He is therefore morally liable for the horrors the Goa Inquisition perpetrated on Hindus, Muslims, Jews and backsliding Christians alike. Thousands of Hindus were tortured and had their lands confiscated by the Inquisition—lands which the Catholic Church still possesses today—and some 2000 Christians were murdered or made destitute. Many more fled Goa to save their lives and settled along the South Canara Coast.
The Victims hold that it is unjust to glorify as a saint the man who brought the Inquisition to Goa, who, by this knowing and calculated act, is responsible for the torture and murder of their ancestors.
When Francis Xavier died in China in 1552, he was not given a regular Christian burial but his corpse was preserved first on Shangchuan Island, then in Portuguese Malacca. It was sent to Goa in 1553 and in 1637 was placed in a silver and glass casket in Bom Jesus Basilica in Old Goa (said to be built over the ancient Saptakotishwar Shiva Temple). He was canonised in 1622 along with the founder of the Society of Jesus(Jesuits), Ignatius Loyola.
Francis Xavier was known as the “Apostle of India” up to 1953. When a piece of St. Thomas’s arm bone was brought to India from Italy in that year and deposited in Kodungallur and San Thome, Xavier lost his title to St. Thomas and is now known simply as the “Patron of Catholic Missions.” His right forearm and hand is displayed in the Il Gesu Cathedral, the church attached to Jesuit headquarters in Rome.
Konkani Christian Victims of Francis Xavier’s Atrocities
Robert Rosario, activist and leader of the Victims of Francis Xavier movement, says, “There’s no more Portuguese rule in Goa. Preserving Xavier’s corpse in Goa is a matter of shame to the self-respect of this country. His corpse must be flown to [Spain] as soon as possible. A nationwide signature campaign has been initiated against the stand of the Goan Church. We will soon petition the Goa Government and the Central Government.” — IndiaFacts, 19 November 2014
» This article has been rewritten by the Bharata Bharati editor for factual accuracy. See the original article on IndiaFacts here.
- BJP invites blood-stained Pope to Goa for archcriminal Francis Xavier’s exposition in 2014 – Cithara Paul
- St. Francis Xavier: A pirate in priest’s clothing – Sita Ram Goel
- Francis Xavier SJ – The Man And His Mission – Sita Ram Goel (this 18-page booklet can be read on-line or downloaded)
- St. Thomas and Anti-Brahminism – Koenraad Elst
- An account of the Inquisition at Goa – Gabriel Dellon