ST. JOAO DE BRITTO OF THE MADURAI MISSION
FIRST EDITION, (52) + 250 pp. title in red and black folio, contemporary calf, spine worn, lacking label, corners bumped, lower joint splitting at head,
One of the outstanding Jesuit Missionaries and known as the Second Francis Xavier or the John the Baptist of India. Father Joao de Brito(1647-1693) had in his youth been a page to the Infante Pedro, later Pedro II of Portugal. At the age of 26 he sailed for Goa, and was to spend nearly all the rest of his life in India. Having been expelled, he was recalled to Rome and visited Portugal en route to Italy. Pedro II tried unsuccessfully to persuade him to become tutor to his son, the future Joao V, then showered him with donations for the mission in India.
The Madurai Mission was a bold attempt to establish an Indian Catholic Church that was relatively free of European cultural domination. As such, Britto learned the native languages, went about dressed in yellow cotton, and lived like a ????? Thuravi/Sanyaasi, abstaining from every kind of animal food and from wine. St John de Britto tried to teach the Catholic faith in categories and concepts that would make sense to the people he taught. This method, proposed and practiced by Roberto de Nobili, met with remarkable success. Britto remained a strict vegan until the end of his life, rejecting meat, fish, eggs and alcohol, and living only on legumes, fruits and herbs. Joao de Britto's preaching led to the conversion of Thadiyathevan, a Marava prince who had several wives. When Thadiyathevan was required to dismiss all his wives but one, a serious problem arose. One of the wives was a niece of the neighbouring king, Sethupathi, the King of Ramnad (Ramanathapuram), who took up her quarrel and began a general persecution of Christians. He was martyred in 1693, and beatified in 1853 and canonized in 1947.
Scholberg Bibliography of Goa and the Portuguese in India, DB3.
Stock ref: 14342