St. John de Britto
Lisbon, March 1, 1647 – Oreiour, India, 11 February 1693
Roman Martyrology: At Oreiour the kingdom of Maravá in India, St. John de Britto, a priest of the Society of Jesus and martyr, who, having converted many to the faith by imitating the life and conduct of the ascetics in the region, was crowned with a glorious martyrdom.
New Xavier called it the Portuguese and the Indians of the seventeenth century the missionary John de Britto, who was born in Lisbon, killed for the faith of Christ at Oreiour in Maravá (India). Ten years later, John fell ill of tuberculosis, and doctors declared his case hopeless. Then the mother petitioned Saint Francis Xavier for healing, in fact, is forced to vote, a dress for one year the son, a grace obtained with the habit of the Society of Jesus. In a few days John left the bed, and, running the vote, appeared at court in black, bringing together a crown of the Madonna. When the year of the vote was finished, he stopped wearing the the religious habit, but not long after, John advanced his application to be admitted to the Society of Jesus. The provincial of the Jesuits had no difficulty with this, but the king, and the infant tried every way to prevent his departure. Nevertheless, December 17, 1662, aged fifteen, John entered the novitiate in Lisbon and then was sent to Evora and Coimbra to wait for the studies and always had the reputation of one of the best talent on campus.
Hand in hand with his studies, he felt the growing desire to work in the footsteps of Xavier. He had the courage to write twice, without the knowledge of his immediate superior, the p. General Oliva, pleading insistently to grant him the grace to go to missions in India. And had the promise of being satisfied at the first start for new workers for the region. But he still had two years to learn in a college, then dedicated himself to the study of theology and to receive priestly ordination, which occurred in early 1673.
Before leaving for the missions, he had to confront and overcome the last major difficulty, namely his mother, who had not yet recovered from the pain of death in war of her firstborn, Christopher. But John righted all the actions caused by the mother who influenced the king and the apostolic nuncio. To prevent other sudden obstacles, didn’t go to the harbor with his traveling companions, but he went out secretly from the Jesuit college, and taking the shortcuts, went right to the ship, where he wrote a farewell to his mother.
In 1673, after an adventurous journey, John arrived in Goa. Visiting the tomb of St. Francis Xavier, at the Jesuit church, he repeated his vow to work for the conversion of the Indians in the College of the Society of Jesus, where he completed his studies in theology.
He applied himself to the study of indigenous languages and was about to reach the residence indicated by the father provincial: One, the kingdom of Ginga. He chose the route through the mountains and due to excess of fatigue, fell seriously ill, but, like other times, invoked the intervention of the Xavier Risano. In the years 1674-1679 he worked in Tattuvancheri and then in the realms of Ginga and Tangiore; in 1685-686 was also superior of the mission.
The labors of his work were slight compared to the suffering that accompanied it.
Having learned that in eighteen years no missionary had reached the kingdom of Maravá, east of Madura, he decided to take on the dangerous business, having sent some talented catechists. On May 5, 1686 he crossed the border; by July 17 of that year he had baptized more than two thousand Indians, he stayed awake throughout the night to take confession and baptize. Soon, however, the King of Maravá had his prime minister order the arrest of the missionary and his companions; no arrest was unrelated to the imprudence of a missionary of another religious order. Later, John endured, for about a month, a real cruel martyrdom, without the execution of his death sentence. Among other torments, he was scourged with a shield, slapped, loaded with chains, and then lying naked on a boulder of pumice stone, red-hot from the sun and fraught with acute tips, where they forced him to stay for more torment, now face now supine, while seven or eight people jump on his body. John spent twenty-two days in that prison before he managed to speak with the king, who seemed subdued by the truth.
Released in August 1686, John received a letter from the provincial communications with his appointment as procurator of the mission they died the previous year, had the order to reach as soon as Portugal and across Rome, and to report to his father General . John did all the objections that were allowed dall’ubbidienza, but before the decision of the provincial unshakable will dispose immediately upon departure. After an exceptionally happy journey, during which they also touched the shore of Brazil, he landed in Lisbon on September 8, 1687. After allegiance superiors, went to the King Don Pedro II, in whose court he had participated as a child. In 1690 John failed to take in order once again, the last time, the ship for India, arriving in Goa on November 2.
He entered again into the kingdom of Maravá, addressing the ire of the sovereign, a fierce persecutor of Christians, who had already had occasion to threaten his death. He worked feverishly, without pause, although they could not stop two days later in a place without running serious risk.
A singular fact exacerbated the situation of the future martyr. On January 6, 1693, he gave baptism to a prince named Teriadevem, and found him dying after baptism he was instantly healed, and I think the answer to the beginning of the Gospel of St. John. According to the order of the saint, the prince had chosen one of the five women he had already married and rejected the other four, among whom there was a niece of the king. John had done his duty, but it was easily predictable that relatives bloodily attempted to avenge the insult of rejection. In fact, the king gave immediate orders to burn all the Christian churches, the houses of the faithful were looted and the saint arrested. To prevent being made to iron and fire the houses of Christians, he went to meet the enemy on January 8, together with three young catechists. Greeted with insults and beatings, landed, then tied with his three faithful, he was forced to a painful march, behind a horse falling armed and bloody the long road ahead of the faithful flocked to contemplate the passion of their generous father, to draw strength from his example. The day after arrival in the prison of the capital, there are a handful of prisoners in addition three other catechists.
Waiting for the King, who came to the capital only January 20, the prisoners lived their days with extraordinary fervor. The example and the word of the mission are the yeast of great courage that consistently inflexible. On January 28, the king issued the sentence. In fact, the king sent out a missionary to do it more quietly kill: he did lead the city of Oreiour, near the border and at the same time warning his brother, governor of that province, justice just arrived in his hand.
Exhausted from the prison, from deprivation, from beatings and constant prayer, the missionary crossed with extreme difficulty the region that stretches between the capital and Oreiour. He was miserable, his feet bloodied, his situation moved to compassion even some pagans met, and the Brahmin offered his horse to get to their destination alive.
The following day he was beheaded. Beatified by Pius IX on August 21, 1853, he was canonized by Pius XII, June 22, 1947.
Author: Ferdinand Baumann
SOURCE: Santi e Beati