Mangalore Christian group objects to the exposition of St Francis Xavier’s remains in Goa – IndiaFacts

Francis Xavier SJ

Francis XavierThis 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.

Goa Inquisition: Man condemned to be burned at the stake.Who was Francis Xavier?

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 the Portuguese 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 Jesuit IHS Monogram(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

Francis Xavier's head

Waterboarding (Inquisition)

“Goa is sadly famous for its Inquisition, equally contrary to humanity and commerce. The Portuguese monks made us believe that the people worshipped the devil, and it is they who have served him.” – Voltaire (French historian and philosopher)

5 Responses


    On 11th Dec 1553 , Xavier’s dead body was shipped from China to Goa.

    The Pope’s propaganda has caught on that viewing his dead embalmed body can bring miraculous good fortune and can heal you of all your ailments. Why not? He has converted more people to Christianity than any of Jesus’s disciples.The “Vatican poster boy’s” embalmed body lies in Goa and is exposed to the public every 10 years—the last was in Dec 2002. Two million of the faithful has descended on Goa for a month. The Vatican has been ignoring demands from the descendants of a Buddhist monk for a DNA test — who claim that the body is of a Sri Lankan monk. The body was switched after the arrogant Captain of the Portugese ship threw it overboard. The monk had died due to consumption of a rare herb. The preserved body of the monk was snatched by Portugese soldiers, dressed up in catholic priest garb and brought to Goa. There is a witness to this — Francis Xavier’s own converted servant he took from my hometown Calicut, by the name of Christopher.

    Xavier was a tall white man– the body is of a small dark man. The bullshit given is that his body was put in lime, in China — so the great appearance change. DNA test never lies!!

    And lime does NOT convert white skin to a uniform brown texture!!!

    Dr. Teotonio R. de Souza is the very best authority on the Portuguese in Goa. He should be listened to carefully.

    Of course Xavier was aware of the brutality of the Inquisition. That is why he demanded their presence in Goa. He was an advocate of forced conversion. The Inquisition was the best Church institution to apply force in a conversion!

    Teotonio de Souza

    Dr. Teotonio R. de Souza

    Here is the full article:

    ‘Xavier was aware of the brutality of the Inquisition,’ says Dr. De Souza – Devika Sequeira – Deccan Herald – Bangalore – 4 Dec. 2012

    One of the darkest chapters in Indo-Portuguese history, ‘the Inquisition’ deserves far more comprehensive research to bring out the truth from an Indian perspective, says historian Teotonio R de Souza.

    Head of the department of history, Universidade Lusofona de Humanidades e Tecnologias, the Lisbon-based De Souza who has published 10 books spoke to Devika Sequeira of Deccan Herald. Excerpts:

    This year marks 500 years of the Portuguese arrival in Goa in 1510 which set the stage for one of the longest colonial dominations in history. Academically, how significant is this anniversary?

    While the Portuguese had already started their commercial links at Cannanore-Calicut-Cochin about a decade earlier, the conquest of Goa marked a turning-point in their policy, namely the decision to secure a land-base of their own with full sovereignty. Two decades later it was made the headquarters of the new empire, which from 1505 was named Estado da India. As Afonso de Albuquerque wrote to his king, the settling down in Goa of casados (married settlers) would send a signal to all in India that the Portuguese had come to stay!

    Given the complex and often bitter political relationship between Goa and Portugal post the 1961 Liberation, Goa has given the event a complete miss. How should it have responded in your view?

    It was unfortunate that the Salazar regime (Portuguese dictator Antonio de Oliveira Salazar) was not flexible enough to compromise and dialogue with newly independent India. It was a regime that was also blind to world developments and survived till 1974 causing much heartache to the Portuguese themselves. Goans cannot though deny the fact that Goa owes its unique identity, and consequently its statehood, to the colonial experience —- albeit that identity might have come from both good and bad experiences. The Portuguese republic in 1910 reduced the earlier restraints upon the Hindu population and extended to them the political benefits of liberalism. Goa could join Portugal this year in commemorating 100 years of this event. Goans should know that Portugal too has grown through harsh experiences of their own people. It would benefit Goans and the Portuguese to share these mutual experiences.

    Can you throw some light on the Goa Inquisition?

    The Goa Inquisition has been studied, but most studies concentrate upon the victims of Jewish descent. They were the main targets of the tribunals of Inquisition everywhere. However, the number of native victims, though less harshly treated, was proportionately much larger. Even the lighter sentences were traumatic for the natives and disrupted their family and social lives. Many spent years in forced labour in galleys and gunpowder factories, which needed cheap labour for the needs of the empire. But the fear and panic caused by the Inquisition procedures drove many out of the territory. A lot more incisive research would be required to trace these cases.

    Those accused of religious heresies and who refused to retract, or those accused of relapses in sodomy were the prime targets of death penalty. Many others were imprisoned and released with lighter sentences.

    The Inquisition was established in Goa in 1560 at the behest of St Francis Xavier. Was he aware of the brutality of the Inquisition tribunal?

    Francis Xavier and Simão Rodrigues, two founder-members of the Society of Jesus were together in Lisbon before Francis Xavier left for India. Both were asked to assist spiritually the prisoners of the Inquisition and were present at the very first auto-da-fé celebrated in Portugal in September 1540, at which 23 were absolved and two were condemned to be burnt, including a French cleric. Hence, Francis Xavier could not have been unaware of the brutality of the Inquisition.

    There was a debate a few years ago about excavating the well of the Inquisition that lies buried under the lawns of the See Cathedral in Old Goa. The issue was never pursued for fear of hurting religious sentiments. Is historical truth not obscured by such an attitude?

    All research related to the Inquisition that played havoc in the lives of Goans needs to be welcomed. The fears are generally unfounded. The Inquisition was not a religious institution, but essentially a political institution for disciplining all colonial subjects. I have more than once proposed the creation of an Inquisition Museum that could be a wonderful instrument of education and would even add to the income of cultural tourism. I think only a prolonged debate over this issue could clear the minds from unwarranted fears and sectarian prejudices.

    Across Goa priceless stone carvings and ruins of pre-Portuguese temples lie unprotected and abandoned. What should be done about these?

    The situation is much better today. Gritly von Miiterwalner, a German archeologist/anthropologist collected dozens of rare old stones — satikal and viragal — all over Goa, and handed them over to the Archaeological Survey of India in the mid 60s. This effort has to continue and perhaps local panchayats could be involved in protecting and displaying their cultural heritage. That could help carry cultural tourism to the hinterland.

    The Goa Inquisition – Dr. T. R. De Souza

    “At least from 1540 onwards, and in the island of Goa before that year, all the Hindu idols had been annihilated or had disappeared, all the temples had been destroyed and their sites and building material was in most cases utilized to erect new Christian Churches and chapels. Various viceregal and Church council decrees banished the Hindu priests from the Portuguese territories; the public practices of Hindu rites including marriage rites, were banned; the state took upon itself the task of bringing up Hindu orphan children; the Hindus were denied certain employments, while the Christians were preferred; it was ensured that the Hindus would not harass those who became Christians, and on the contrary, the Hindus were obliged to assemble periodically in Churches to listen to prea! ching or to the refutation of their religion.”

    “A particularly grave abuse was practiced in Goa in the form of ‘mass baptism’ and what went before it. The practice was begun by the Jesuits and was alter initiated by the Franciscans also. The Jesuits staged an annual mass baptism on the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul (January 25), and in order to secure as many neophytes as possible, a few days before the ceremony the Jesuits would go through the streets of the Hindu quarter in pairs, accompanied by their Negro slaves, whom they would urge to seize the Hindus. When the blacks caught up a fugitive, they would smear his lips with a piece of beef, making him an ‘untouchable’ among his people. Conversion to Christianity was then his only option.”

    The Goan inquisition is regarded by all contemporary portrayals as the most violent inquisition ever executed by the Portuguese Catholic Church. It lasted from 1560 to 1812. The inquisition was set as a tribunal, headed by a judge, sent to Goa from Portugal and was assisted by two judicial henchmen. The judge was answerable to no one except to Lisbon and handed down punishments as he saw fit. The Inquisition Laws filled 230 pages and the palace where the Inquisition was conducted was known as the Big House and the Inquisition proceedings were always conducted behind closed shutters and closed doors. The screams of agony of the victims (men, women, and children) could be heard in the streets, in the stillness of the night, as they were brutally interrogated, flogged, and slowly dismembered in front of their relatives. Eyelids were sliced off and extremities were amputated carefully, a person could remain conscious even though the only thing that remained was his torso and head.

    Diago de Boarda, a priest and his advisor Vicar General, Miguel Vazz had made a 41 point plan for torturing Hindus. Under this plan Viceroy Antano de Noronha issued in 1566, an order applicable to the entire area und! er Portuguese rule:

    “I hereby order that in any area owned by my master, the king, nobody should construct a Hindu temple and such temples already constructed should not be repaired without my permission. If this order is transgressed, such temples shall be, destroyed and the goods in them shall be used to meet expenses of holy deeds, as punishment of such transgression.”

    In 1567 the campaign of destroying temples in Bardez met with success. At the end of it 300 Hindu temples were destroyed. Enacting laws, prohibition was laid from December 4, 1567 on rituals of Hindu marriages, sacred thread wearing and cremation. All the persons above 15 years of age were compelled to listen to Christian preaching, failing which they were punished.

    A religious fatwa was issued on the basis of the findings of Goa Inquiry Commission. It stated, “…Hereby we declare the decision that the conventions mentioned in the preamble of the fatwa as stated below are permanently declared as useless, and therefore prohibited.”

    Prohibitions regarding marriages:

    1. – The instruments for Hindu songs shall not be played.
    2. – While giving dowry the relatives of the bride and groom must not be invited.
    3. – At the time of marriage, betel leaf packages (pan) must not be distributed either publicly or in private to the persons present.
    4. – Flowers, or fried puris, betel nuts and leaves must not be sent to the heads of the houses of the bride or groom.
    5. – Gotraj ceremony of family God must not be performed.
    6. – On the day prior to a wedding, rice must not be husked, spices must not be pounded, grains must not be ground and other recipes for marriage feast must not be cooked.
    7. – Pandals and festoons must not be used.
    8. – Pithi should not be applied.
    9. – The bride must not be accorded ceremonial welcome. The bride and groom must not be made to sit under pandal to convey blessings and best wishes to them.
    10. – The poor must not be fed or ceremonial meals must not be served for the peace of the souls of the dead.
    11. – There should be no fasting on ekadashi day.
    12. – Fasting can be done according to the Christian principles.
    13. – No rituals should be performed on the twelfth day after death, on moonless and full moon dates.
    14. – Hindu men should not wear dhoti either in public or in their houses.
    15. – Women should not wear cholis.
    16. – They should not plant Tulsi in their houses, compounds, gardens or any other place.

    Following the law of 1567, orphans were kidnapped for converting them to Christianity.

    On September 22, 1570 an order was issued that:

    1. – The Hindus embracing Christianity will be exempted from land taxes for a period of 15 years.
    2. – Nobody shall bear Hindu names or surnames.

    In 1583 Hindu temples at Esolna and Kankolim were destroyed through army action.

    “The fathers of the Church forbade the Hindus under terrible penalties the use of their own sacred books, and prevented them from all exercise of their religion. They destroyed their temples, and so harassed and interfered with the people that they abandoned the city in large numbers, refusing to remain any longer in a place where they had no liberty, and were liable to imprisonment, torture and death if they worshipped after their own fashion the gods of their fathers.” wrote Sasetti, who was in India from 1578 to 1588.

    An order was issued in June 1684 eliminating Konkani language and making it compulsory to speak Portuguese language. The law provided for dealing toughly with anyone using the local language. Following that law all the symbols of non-Christian sects were destroyed and the books written in local languages were burnt.

    The Archbishop living on the banks of the Ethora had said during one of his lecture series, “The post of Inquiry Commission in Goa is regarded as holy.” The women who opposed the assistants of the commission were put behind the bars and were used by them to satisfy their animal instincts. Then they were burnt alive as opponents of the established tenets of the Catholic Church.

    The victims of such inhuman laws of the Inquiry Commission included a French traveller named Delone. He was an eye witness to the atrocities, cruelty and reign of terror unleashed by priests. He published a book in 1687 describing the lot of helpless victims. While he was in jail he had heard the cries of tortured people beaten with instruments having sharp teeth. All these details are noted in Delone’s book.

    So harsh and notorious was the Inquisition in Goa, that word of its brutality and horrors reached Lisbon but nothing was done to stop this notoriety and escalating barbarity and it continued for two hundred more years. Nobody knows the exact number of Goans subjected to these diabolical tortures, but perhaps it runs into hundreds of thousands, may be even more. The abominations of inquisitions continued until a brief respite was given in 1774 but four years later, the inquisition was introduced again and it continued un-interruptedly until 1812. At that point in time, in the year of 1812, the British put pressure on the Portuguese to put an end to the terror of Inquisition and the presence of British troops in Goa enforced the British desire. Also the Portuguese power at this time was declining and they could not fight the British. The palace of the Grand Inquisitor, the Big House, was demolished and no trace of it remains today, which might remind someone of inquisitions and the horrors inside this Big House that their great saint Francis Xavier had commenced.

    Dr. Trasta Breganka Kunha, a Catholic citizen of Goa writes, “Inspite of all the mutilations and concealment of history, it remains an undoubted fact that religious conversion of Goans is due to methods of force adopted by the Portuguese to establish their rule. As a result of this violence the character of our people was destroyed. The propagation of Christian sect in Goa came about not by religious preaching but through the methods of violence and pressure. If any evidence is needed for this fact, we can obtain it through law books, orders and reports of the local rulers of that time and also from the most dependable documents of the Christian sect.”

    Readers might be interested in Xavier’s innovations in day care, that so captured the imagination of the doctores of the Mother Church who so fondly and gently ‘suffers the little ones to come unto her,’ that he was canonized:

    As to the numbers who become Christians, you may understand them from this, that it often happens to me to be hardly able to use my hands from the fatigue of baptizing: often in a single day I have baptized whole villages. Sometimes I have lost my voice and strength altogether with repeating again and again the Credo and the other forms. The fruit that is reaped by the baptism of infants, as well as by the instruction of children and others, is quite incredible. These children, I trust heartily, by the grace of God, will be much better than their fathers. They show an ardent love for the Divine law, and an extraordinary zeal for learning our holy religion and imparting it to others. Their hatred for idolatry is marvellous. They get into feuds with the heathen about it, and whenever their own parents practise 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 them, dash them down, break them to pieces, spit on them, trample on them, kick them about, and in short heap on them every possible outrage.

    Perhaps I didn’t read carefully enough, but Shri Goel seems to have missed/omitted this rather instructive, nay revelatory, piece in his book “Francis Xavier SJ.” It gives an entirely new twist to what is arguably the rage in our nursery schools: “Learning by doing.”


  2. the rakshasa s of puran’a s are nothing compared to these devils ( for want of a more fitting term to call them ) ;
    can humanity fall down to such abysmal depths ?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. When we take all the trouble to rename our cities, towns and even states, why keep this symbol of colonial rule and that too a person who was responsible for bringing inquisition to Goa


  4. Sayings of Francis Xavier

    In his letters to the Jesuits in Rome, Xavier wrote: “There are in these parts among the pagans a class of men called Brahmins. They are as perverse and wicked a set as can anywhere be found, and to whom applies the Psalm which says: ‘From an unholy race, and wicked and crafty men, deliver me, Lord.’ If it were not for the Brahmins, we should have all the heathens embracing our faith.”

    “Following the baptisms, the new Christians return to their homes and come back with their wives and families to be in their turn also prepared for baptism. After all have been baptised, I order that everywhere the temples of the false gods be pulled down and idols broken. I know not how to describe in words the joy I feel before the spectacle of pulling down and destroying the idols by the very people who formerly worshipped them.” Xavier did this after the Hindu raja of Quilon had given him a large grant to build churches!

    On baptising and inducting children into Christianity, he wrote in 1543 to the Society of Jesus in Rome: “These children, I trust heartily, by the grace of God, will be much better than their fathers. They show an ardent love for the Divine law, and an extraordinary zeal for learning our holy religion and imparting it to others. Their hatred for idolatry is marvellous. They get into feuds with the heathen about it, and whenever their own parents practise 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 them, dash them down, break them to pieces, spit on them, trample on them, kick them about, and in short heap on them every possible outrage.”


    Francis Xavier was the pioneer of anti-Brahmanism which was adopted in due course as a major plank in the missionary propaganda by all Christian denominations. Lord Minto, Governor General of India from 1807 to 1812, submitted a Note to his superiors in London when the British Parliament was debating whether missionaries should be permitted in East India Company’s domain under the Charter of 1813. He enclosed with his Note some “propaganda material used by the missionaries” and, referring to one missionary tract in particular, wrote: “The remainder of this tract seems to aim principally at a general massacre of the Brahmanas” (M. D. David (ed.), Western Colonialism in Asia and Christianity, Bombay, 1988, p. 85). Anti-Brahmanism has become the dominant theme in the speeches and writings of Dravidian politicians and Indian secularists of all sorts.

    Xavier’s letter demanding the Inquisition be sent to Goa

    Francis Xavier sent this letter to King John III of Portugal on May 16th, 1545: “The second necessity for the Christians is that your Majesty establish the Holy Inquisition, because there are many who live according to the Jewish law, and according to the Mahomedan sect, without any fear of God or shame of the world. And since there are many spread all over the fortresses, there is the need of the Holy Inquisition and of many preachers. Your Majesty should provide such necessary things for your loyal and faithful subjects in India.” – Joseph Wicki, Documenta Indica, Vol. IV, Rome, 1956.

    The Inquisition in Goa

    Historian Paul Roberts describes what went on in the Inquisition’s Goa court that had been housed in the Sultan’s old palace and had a huge plaster image of Christ overlooking the scene: “Children were flogged and slowly dismembered in front of their parents, whose eyelids had been sliced off to make sure they missed nothing. Extremities were amputated carefully, so that a person could remain conscious even when all that remained was a torso and head. Male genitals were removed and burned in front of wives, breasts hacked off and vaginas penetrated by swords while husbands were forced to watch…. And it went on for two hundred years.” – Paul Williams Roberts, The Empire of the Soul: Some Journeys in India, New York, 1997.


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