Recognition

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English writer, Fr. H. Lesser, from his book Sages and Saints of India

Xavier (St. Francis Xavier) came to India as the Pope’s personal representative (Ambassador), a position of great power and prestige. He had the full might of the Portuguese empire behind him, a well-organized, powerful society – the Society of Jesus. He seems to have had at his disposal considerable funds, provided not only by his society but also by the Queen’s ‘Slipper Money’. He never worked alone. He never had to encounter any serious opposition from local rulers.

Vaz…had no funds…no support from anyone, ecclesiastical or civil…When he went to Ceylon, no one, apart from the Archbishop of Goa and his own local superior even knew he was going. His only companion was his faithful servant , John. They had no money, no resources, no luggage, except a breviary and Mass kit. He always travelled barefoot. He would accept no gifts, not even a Mass stipend…His first two years in Jaffna were spent in daily danger of death from the Dutch…His entry into Kandy was in chains. He was for two years a prisoner, for the first five days without food. One is tempted to compare him with St. Paul (1 Cor., 4:10-13).

Xavier worked mainly among non-Christians. Modern scholars estimate that 10,000 people were drawn to Christ through his efforts. Few would deny that many were at least influenced by the Portuguese power behind Xavier.

Vaz worked mainly among Catholics, weak and lapsed. When he arrived in Ceylon, there were some of these scattered, frightened, deprived of the Sacraments for 30, 40, or 50 years. When he died, after 24 years’ work…there were 70,000 practicing Catholics, served by catechists whom he trained…Of these no less than 30,00 were converts from other religions. Not one had come in through motives other than religious, since Vaz had neither money to bribe nor power to influence or entice them.” (Note: Vaz’ converts suffered persecution loss of hereditary titles, property, and political rights).