Saint John de Brito
- Also known as
- Apostle of Madura
- 4 February
- Portugese nobility, and a favourite of Don Pedro, king of Portugal.
Son of the governor of Brazil.
Jesuit at age 15.
Studied at the University of Coimbra.
Against the strenuous objections of his family, he volunteered for the missions in India in 1673, and was sent to Madura.
There he studied the complex Indian caste system, and found that most converts belonged to the lowest caste.
He realized that for Christianity to have a lasting influence in India, higher caste members must also convert.
Worked at Malabar, Tanjore, Marava, and Madura.
He established himself as an Indian ascetic, a Pandara Suami, lived as they lived, dressed in saffron cloak and turban, and held retreats in the wilderness in southern India where interested Indians could visit him.
In time he was accepted as a Suami, his reputation grew, and though the locals would sometimes torture him, he converted as many as 10,000.
Appointed superior of the mission in 1685.
Among them was a prince whom he told to give up his wives.
One of the wives, the niece of the rajah, had John imprisoned and tortured for a month, but being a religious man was no crime, so he was released.
His success in converting Indians to Christianity brought on the ire of the Brahmins, the highest Indian caste, and they decided to kill him.
John and his catechists were imprisoned, tortured, and ordered to leave the country.
When he refused, the rajah ordered John executed.
At the execution site, he knelt in prayer, and the rajah's order was read.
The executioner hesitated; John told him,
"My friend, I have prayed to God.
On my part, I have done what I should do.
Now do your part."
- 1 March 1647 at Lisbon, Portugal
- dismembered and beheaded 11 February 1693 at Oreiour, India
- Name Meaning
- God is gracious; gift of God (John)
- 21 August 1853 by Pope Pius IX
- 1947 by Pope Pius XII
Sivagangai, India, diocese of
- Additional Information
Book of Saints, by the Monks of Ramsgate
Catholic Encyclopedia, by H Woods
For All the Saints, by Katherine Rabenstein
Our Sunday Visitor's Encyclopedia of Saints, by Matthew Bunson, Margaret Bunson, and Stephen Bunson
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