Critical Study of the missionary work of Francis Xavier in South India
By Reeju Tharakan
Francis Xavier was a Jesuit missionary who worked in India from 1542 to 1552. He came with a firm determination to serve God and people, contributed to the education of children and youth, and worked for “the greater glory of God.” His attitude to and relationship with Portugal colonial power was cordial he used their help for mission in India. An evaluation of his approach in mission and his attitude to other religions, culture, and life of the native people should bring in to light that he was influenced by colonialism.
Francis Xavier was born on April 7, 1506, at Xavier Castle, near the town of ...view middle of the document...
From Goa Francis Xavier moved to south India to work among the fishing communities, Paravas and Mukkuvars. Robert Eric Frykenberg observes the conversion of the fishing communities who engaged in fishing, pearl diving, trading, and piracy was a political and a spiritual event. They turned to the Portuguese for protection when they were threatened by Arabs. As part of their mutual agreement they adopted Christian faith. When Farncis Xavier came there, the Paravars and Mukkuvars were Christian only in name. He says, “When I first came I asked them, if they knew anything about our Lord Jesus Christ? But when I came to the points of faith in detail and asked them what they thought of them, and what more they believed than when they were infidels, they only replied that they were Christians, but as they are ignorant of Portuguese, they know nothing of the precepts and mysterious of our holy religion.”
Francis Xavier took three Tamil-speaking assistants and spent several months, walking from village to village, building prayer houses, baptizing children, teaching them Lord’s Prayer, creed and commandments. He installed local catechist for each village to track of births, deaths, and marriages. He assembled the people twice a day and taught them and encouraged them to teach to their parents, family, and neighbors. He gave them instruction in Tamil language about the responsibilities necessary to salvation and prepared them for baptism. But often there were mass conversions where the whole village was baptized. He appreciated the extraordinary zeal of the people for learning the creed of Catholic faith. He taught them biblical theology-Trinity- One God and three divine persons.
Francis Xavier failed to adjust with the religious pluralistic society where they had other religions and idol worshippers. In his own words, “whenever their own parents practice it, they reproach them and come off to tell me at once. Whenever I hear of any act of idolatrous worship, I go to the place with a large band of these children, who very soon load the devil with a greater amount of insult and abuse than he has lately received of honor and worship from their parents, relations, and acquaintances. The children run at the idols, upset...