THE "FAILURE" OF ST. FRANCIS XAVIER1506-1552
Probably there is no saint whose name occurs in the Church's calendar, perhaps there is no hero in history, who has more enthusiastic admirers than St. Francis Xavier. Certainly it would be hard to find more highly colored panegyrics than those which have been written of him, from his own brethren in France and Spain to our own poet Dryden. The boundless range of his horizon, his life of utter devotedness, the splendid fruit of his labors, all appeal to every man who looks for greatness, and compel him to pay homage. The most materialistic and the most utilitarian, whatever they may think of saints as such, are forced to acknowledge that here, at least, was a man, even while he was a saint. That one should surrender all that Xavier surrendered for the sake of his fellow-men, that he should seem to have known no limits to his giving, or to the people to whom he gave, but perhaps, above all, that he should have succeeded in doing the work he did, all this appeals to the man of action and results, who reckons work done by the price that is paid for it and by the fruit that is reaped. Hence it is that panegyrists, both inside and outside the Church, dwell most of all on this aspect of the saint as that which appeals to every man.
At the same time, one cannot help asking oneself whether as a matter of fact this side of his life is the one which is really most to be admired. One cannot help asking whether St. Francis Xavier himself, were he now in heaven allowed to select, would choose this glorious picture of himself as the one which redounded most to his credit, or as the one he would most bring before men's notice in proof of the manhood that was in him. To anyone who reads between the lines of the story of his life the fact of the other side is only too evident. In his own day, and among his own people, he was by no means the great success we, looking back, can see him to have been. On the contrary, we are not without proofs, both internal and external, that to many at least of his contemporaries he was thought a failure. While here and there he had a few staunch friends, and while his capacity for friendship is manifest in every letter that he wrote, still there is, throughout his life, a certain isolation and loneliness which cannot be mistaken. At times he seems almost to cry out against it; when, for instance, he writes to all his brethren in Europe, saying he would gladly write to each one if he could; when in his moments of distress he addresses a single faithful follower in India; when he leaves all alone and hides himself away to seek the one Friend who, he knows, will never fail him.
Still more evidence have we of his own deep conviction that he was himself of little worth. By nature highly strung and sanguine, he suffered from strong reactions; endowed with talents and gifts beyond the ordinary, he was weighed down with the littleness of men around him, blocking his way at every turn; a man of broad horizons and boundless ambitions, he seemed forever tempted to depression and despair, and to surrender every task he undertook. The real greatness of the man must surely lie in this, that he did what he did in spite of every discouragement, from without and from within, and that he died with his eyes stretched forward to a yet further horizon, counting all he had so far done as nothing, probably counting it a failure.
From the day when he decided to throw in his lot with St. Ignatius he was a disappointment to those who had hitherto known him. His family was disappointed with him. It was noble, but now was not rich; it had lost its all because of its staunch support of the French claim against the Spanish for the lordship of Navarre: in the campaign which led up to the fall of Pampeluna, his own brothers had fought on the side of the French victors. Now, since the reverse, it had done what it could to give this youngest son a fresh start in life; since he could not serve under a Spanish conqueror, he should be offered a career of learning, a career in the Church. Yet here he was, at the mere instigation of an eccentric beggar-student, and a Spaniard besides, whose past was more than suspicious, sacrificing all his prospects, and starting on some wild goose chase to convert the Holy Land! It must be confessed that many a more Christian family than even that of Xavier would have been justified in its disappointment on a less apparent ground than this.
Again, the University was disappointed with him. It had given him every advantage; it had appointed him to a professorship; it had marked him out for a career which only needed his own energy to lift him up to the highest rank of the new elite of Europe. Yet all the return he made was, in a moment of enthusiasm, to throw it all up at the suggestion of one who had already come to be looked upon with reserve. Surely there was ground for the resentment of the authorities against the intrusion of Inigo Loyola; and their judgment that Francis Xavier was, after all, fickle and light-headed, a dreamer of dreams and unreliable, was not without a basis of good evidence.
Then to his companions, the first members of the Society of Jesus, his life seemed so arranged, his character so singular, as constantly to lead to disappointment. In the enthusiasm of his conversion, he wished to go to the Carthusians, and it needed all the influence of Ignatius to prevent him. On their first tramp to Rome, he had carried his penance to an excess which any man of judgment might easily have avoided, and only a miracle prevented him from becoming a burden to them all. Arrived in Italy, he was sent to Bologna. There he made his mark; he was a born preacher and apostle; evidently he was the man to reform that and other cities; and he was called away from the midst of it all to sit at a desk, seemingly useless and unknown as a mere private secretary. Nevertheless, here again he succeeded. His brethren saw the wisdom of having such a man at the elbow of their Father General. One so gifted, so far-seeing, so sympathetic, so devoted, would be of untold service in framing the new Constitutions and in directing the fast-growing Order; yet, on a sudden, they found that, at a single day's notice, he had gone away to Portugal, thence to be lost to civilization altogether.
In Portugal again he found his place. There he had to wait for more than six months until the fleet for the Indies was equipped. The time was spent in the apostolate, the spirit of Bologna revived; prisoners in Goa were evangelized, especially the victims of the Inquisition, and even accompanied to the stake. But his chief labor was among the nobles, those whose lives and example counted for so much that was evil, whose conversion would mean so much for the world they ruled. And with these he succeeded. Such a preacher had never been known at Court before; so great a reform had never before been brought about. It would clearly be a mistake that such a good work should be cut short; king, and people, and clergy clamored that Xavier should be left in Portugal, and another sent to the Indies in his place. It was not for the first time that the report went round concerning him that here was a good man being utterly thrown away.
So many changes in five brief years, and Xavier was already thirty-five. He set sail for India on his birthday, 1541, full of the tales which he heard of the countries awaiting him, white for the harvest, of kings and people who were only too eager to receive the saving religion of the beloved Portuguese. When he arrived he found things very different, though probably he was not surprised. Goa, a city of luxury and slaves, where Europeans vied with Asiatics in every worst vice and excessthis was the base from which he had to work. A people hating a religion which came to them with fire and sword, some inveigled with promises of reward, others compelled to intermarry with Portuguese soldiers and camp-followersif indeed it may safely be called intermarriagesuch were the races "craving" for the waters of baptism. A priesthood of the laxest morals, a convent in which every nun had her serf attendantsuch was the material with which he had to work. Churches there were in abundance, standing almost side by side. Sunday, when women and some men were borne to church, and slaves carried their prayer-books by their side, was a day to be seen in Goa. For the rest, religion was chiefly of account as a means to conquest and wealth.
Into such a welter of religion and luxury and tyranny Xavier was thrown, and the first result was only to be expected. He was for ever at war with the Portuguese officials; and that not so much, or not only, because he interfered with their authority, or because he thwarted their cupidity, or because he brought home to them unpleasant truths which they had hoped to have left behind them in Europe, but also because he never seemed to be satisfied with what was given him. He had come to India under the protection of the Portuguese flag; the faith should go with the flag, so they thought, even the best among them, and a people won to the faith was a people won to Portugal. But this restless man was not content with this. Not even the vast expanse of the Portuguese possessions sufficed for him, nor all the money they bestowed on him to succor his starving neophytes. He would go where he chose; he would demand protection and help for work that would bring them no return; though officially sent out by the king of Portugal, he would serve the crown just so far as it pleased him and no more. It cannot be denied that the complaints that went home to Portugal, and even to the General, St. Ignatius, in Rome, were not wholly without foundation, and to one who did not know better must have seemed very convincing indeed.
But while this was the conclusion of some men, not utterly unreasonable as men count reason, a still greater disappointment was felt by the man himself. By nature Francis Xavier was one who lived with high ideals, and who seemed destined to find his only happiness in working for a definite goal. Yet one after another the goal he set before himself was snatched from his grasp. There is evidence to show that as a child he would gladly have followed his brothers in the service of his country; his family could not afford it, and he must make his own way in the world. At the University, beyond a doubt, he reveled in the thought of all that lay before him; the hope must surely have lingered in his mind that his master would bid him win his place as a scholar for the greater glory of God. Instead, he was told to give it all up, and tramp to Rome and take ship for Syria. He did as he was told, and was rewarded by a craving for the life of contemplation. He even doubted, so someone tells us, whether that were not his vocation; instead he was not even allowed the journey to the holy places, but was thrown into the cities of Italy to preach and give instructions.
Again he did as he was told, and again a new ambition lay before him. He could preach, and he knew it; he could teach because he knew what he knew; he would give himself heart and soul to this work, for God, and for man's salvation. He had scarcely begun and caught on, when he was ordered to put it all aside and retire into the hidden life of a private secretary. Still, even here there was something to live for. On the one hand there was the great task of building up a great religious order; on the other was the constant companionship of the one friend of his bosom. Here he could live, and do great work, and be happy; and on a sudden he was told to be ready in a day to depart for Portugal and the Indies, to go out of everything for which he had lived, to go out of life as he knew it altogether.
Here a fact should be remembered which adds to the pathos of the situation. There is no record whatever that Francis Xavier had ever set his heart on the foreign missions, or had ever felt for them any particular vocation. With other saints and great missionaries it was different. St. Peter Claver trained himself for the negroes from the beginning of his so-called conversion.
Blessed Charles Spinola looked forward from the first to work among the heathen. The North American missionaries and the missionaries in China were all practically volunteers. With St. Francis Xavier there is no record that it was so. He was simply told to go and he went; all his University ambitions, all his contemplative longings, all his schemes for the good of his Order, were annihilated once and for ever. Humanly speaking, the parting was death; it had not the spring of a young missionary going out to the goal of his desires; and perhaps there were other reasons besides sanctity for the singular silence of the man at the moment of parting, usually so demonstrative, so simple in the expression of his emotions.
When he began his work in India, the same disappointment and failure seemed to dog his steps. Of the few companions he took out with him, not more than one seems to have persevered. The first and daring mission among the natives, where the faith found good soil, was all but swept off the face of the earth by an inroad of heathen invaders. His extraordinary powers as Papal Nuncio, and plenipotentiary of the king of Portugal, were practically never used except against those who thwarted him. It was his failure in the king's dominions that drove him farther afield, to the extreme East, and thence to Japan. More than once he had to complain, so far as he dared, of the poor material that was sent out to help him, poor alike in intellect and in spirit; and one finds him almost beside himself, as he cries out to the men of genius who are wasting their lives, so he calls it, winning themselves renown in the Universities of Europe. As the years wore on, and everything he did seemed to fail, he declared his longing to leave the Indies alone, and to go to Abyssinia, to Arabia, to Madagascar, anywhere so that he might do some little good before he died, for all he had done so far had apparently been brought to nothing. Exhausted in body and soul, he buried himself for weeks at a time in the garden of the College at Goa.
What was this College at Goa? Let us take its story as a key to the inner life of the Apostle of the Indies.
Of all the works Xavier set on foot none was more dear to him than the College of St. Paul. Since he could not hope to have from Europe missionaries of either the number or quality he needed, he determined to make missionaries of his own in India; and that these might be trained uncontaminated, as far as possible, by the life, heathen or Christian, around them, he would bring them up apart, under his own supervision. In other words, the College, which he took over and reconstructed as his own, was to be a nursing home for native priests and catechists, from whatever part of the East they might come. That these might grow up with a spirit of their own, independent of all European contact or subjection, none but pure Asiatics were to be accepted. That such an institution might prosper, it was obvious from the first that it would need a Rector on whom he could rely. In all his service, Xavier had only two such men. One he had been compelled to send south to the Fishery Coast, to control the work he had there set on foot. The other was not a Portuguese; he came from the Netherlands and, knowing the Portuguese, Xavier on that account feared to appoint him.
Accordingly he had written to Europe, asking that a worthy Rector might be sent. Rodriguez, the Provincial, responded, and there arrived in Goa, while Xavier was away in the South, a young Jesuit father, Antonio Gomez, with his letters of appointment as Rector in his pocket. He was duly installed, and at once, both in the College and in the city, things began to stir. Gomez was a devoted disciple of the University of Coimbra. He had made his name there, he knew no other; for him the University, with its life and methods, were the acme of perfection, on whose model all other colleges must be built. He was, besides, an excellent preacher, far more impressive, if one may judge from reports, than Xavier himself. His manners were beyond criticism; he was sought after by the highest people in Goa, from the viceroy and bishop downwards, as a guest in their homes, as a confessor for the fastidious Goan ladies. He had moreover the confidence of his Provincial, Simon Rodriguez, in Europe; the decree for his appointment had been given him without any consultation of Xavier. He was a man of unbounded self-confidence and assurance; besides, having come out some six years later than Francis, he could claim both greater experience in the management of schools, and even a better knowledge of the spirit and working of the Society of Jesus itself.
When, then, he was installed as Rector of the College of St. Paul's, Antonio at once set about his reforms. He began with the brethren, his own religious community. Regulations were drawn up and enforced, concerning eating and drinking, sleeping and recreation, spiritual duties and work, strictly according to the practice of Paris and Coimbra. The conditions of the East were ignored; that the spirit of the Society should be relaxed because of mere climate was unthinkable. He ruled with a rod of iron, as became his notion of a strong superior; should any subject prove recalcitrant, he announced that he had authority to send insubordinates to Portugal, if necessary in chains.
Next, he turned his attention to the students. These undisciplined and mixed young men, coming as they did from various parts of India and the further East, were ordered to conform to the ways and customs of Coimbra. The result was inevitable, in a very short time they began to climb over the college walls and run away. But this troubled the Rector very little. He had other and better designs in view. The College of St. Paul must be raised to the status of a university; only as such would it be worthy of the Society of Jesus. To this end it was essential that European students should be admitted, the sons of the officials and magnates of Goa and of all the Portuguese dominions. Education was all important for such as these, and the labors of the Society would be most profitably spent on their training. Out of these, moreover, far more becoming vocations might be looked for; as for the candidates whom Father Francis had in mind, for them the apostolic schools would suffice, scattered in various places, preferably away from the metropolis of Goa.
Francis on his return saw what was being done; he remonstrated, but to no purpose. Gomez had been sent to teach the Society in the East, Xavier himself included, the ways of the Society in Portugal, not to be taught the ways of a lax and undisciplined community. What was to be done? The crisis had come in the few months Francis had been in Goa between his return from the East Indies and his departure for Japan. All had been arranged for the voyage; if he lost this opportunity he might not find another for a year. To leave all authority in the hands of this man would be fatal; yet on his other expeditions he had always done this with the former Rector. He must give Gomez another appointment. He must send him out of Goa, to Ormuz, to Diu, to Bassein, to one of the Portuguese settlements where his learning and talents would have full scope, and where he would have less opportunity for mischief. In his stead he must run the risk of appointing the one trusty subject he had at hand, the Hollander, Fr. Gaspar Baertz.
So Francis determined, but circumstances were too much for him. Fr. Gaspar saw only too well the difficulties before him, and pleaded to be excused; a Dutch superior would be pleasing neither to the members of the Society nor to the Portuguese authorities. Fr. Antonio on the other hand was aggrieved; he questioned the right of Fr. Francis to override the decision of their common Provincial in Portugal. To strengthen his cause he called in the aid of his friends, the viceroy, the bishop, and others; these expressed surprise that so excellent a man, so exceptional a preacher, so great an influence for good should be removed from the city. In the end, much against his will, but left with little other choice, Xavier was compelled to yield. The Portuguese, Antonio, was allowed to stay, the Hollander, Gaspar, was sent to Ormuz. As a compromise, however, the authority of Antonio was strictly confined to the College; the care of the missions and missionaries was confided to another.
Thus Xavier started on his voyage to Japan with a heavy heart, for he knew very well that he left behind him the seeds of serious trouble. Still, he must go. This state of things was nothing new. Whatever he had undertaken had usually come to grief; his plans had been regularly brought to naught by just those from whom he had naturally a right to expect most assistance. In two months he reached Malacca; a month later he was on his way to Japan. But not without a last sad note which betrays the anxiety he carried with him. Before he left Malacca he wrote to the Provincial of Portugal:
"As you know well, the office of superior is very dangerous for one who is not perfect. I ask you therefore to send, as rector and superior of the brethren in India, one to whom this office will do no spiritual injury. Antonio Gomez does not possess the necessary qualifications."
It was long before his request was heeded. For two years and more Xavier was away in Japan; when he returned to Goa, Gomez was still at his post. In those two years he had done serious harm; and in the meanwhile, while Francis was wearing himself out exploring Japan, he was telling his own tale to superiors in Europe. But not without the knowledge of Francis; in spite of his preoccupation far away, he found time to write to Fr. Antonio, warning him, and begging him to do his simple duty. Thus we find him saying:
"I entreat you, for the love of our Lord, so to behave that all the members of the Society may love you. Write to me and tell me of your spiritual life. If you will do that, you will lift a great burden from my heart."
It was all of no avail. Gomez received the letters of Francis, but chose to go his own way. He claimed to have better training than Francis; he knew better how the Indian mission should be worked. He had the ear of his Provincial in Portugal; Francis had not. He had the College under his complete control expressly by the Provincial's order; Francis had other things to do. Therefore it was only just that he should be given a free hand; he, and not Francis, had the right to lay down the policy of the mission.
Scarcely had Francis sailed away from Goa than the native students were dismissed in numbers; in their places were received Portuguese youths, many of whom could scarcely read or write. Of these many were hurried through to ordination; this was adduced as a proof of the wisdom and success of his policy, and Gomez then wished to close the College to native students altogether.
Such was the news which reached Francis after a year or more of his time in Japan. There was trouble everywhere among the brethren in India; unless he returned it would increase. He had no alternative but to return. In November, 1551, he set sail from Japan, and reached Malacca in forty days. Here he received an abiding consolation, humanly speaking the greatest he had ever had during all his time in the East, and one that buoyed him up to face the still greater trouble to come. It was a letter from Ignatius, the first that had reached him for four years. Its contents had much between the lines, which even we may easily read. We know that during this time Ignatius had had no little trouble with Simon Rodriguez, the Provincial of Portugal, in fact with all the Portuguese Province altogether; it was to the Province of Portugal that his famous Letter on Obedience was written about this time. The trouble was not unlike that between Francis and Antonio, it was chiefly a question of jurisdiction and authority. Since Simon was what he was, and since the spirit of Coimbra was the spirit of Antonio, Ignatius saw the difficulties of his son Francis in the very complaints that were made against him. There was only one thing to do. He could not send him help, but he could set him free. With his usual vigor of action, he constituted India and the East a Province of its own, independent of the Province of Portugal, and appointed Xavier its first Provincial. The letter which conveys this message concludes with words whose full meaning only Francis and Ignatius could have understood; but they are characteristic, both of the saint who wrote them and of the saint to whom they were written:
"I shall never forget you,
"Entirely your own,
That sentence was enough. It told again of that "interna charitatis et amoris lex" which always ruled the heart of Ignatius, and which he placed above all constitutions for the government of his Society. It made up for many disappointments. Before this Francis had asked for men of better caliber than those he had received, and had been told he could not have them. They were wanted elsewhere. He had described the fields he had explored, white for the harvest, and had appealed for men to whom he could trust them; he received a scanty handful, and of these many he had to send home again, or dismiss from the Society altogether. And we are now, be it remembered, within a year of his death.
Francis sailed from Malacca to Cochin, and here further trouble awaited him. During all his time in India he seems to have had only two men on whom he could entirely rely, Antonio Criminale, an Italian from Parma, and Gaspar Baertz. Arrived at Cochin, he was welcomed with the news that the former had perished, murdered by Mohammedan raiders, and with his death again had been undone much of Xavier's work on the Fishery Coast. Gaspar was away in Arabia. Meanwhile the news from Goa was heart-breaking. Antonio, the man who should have been his right an, and in whom he had been compelled to place all his confidence, had gone from bad to worse. From being Rector of the College he had constituted himself Vice-Provincial. He had ignored and crushed the gentle Fr. Paul, whom Francis had appointed to control the Society in his absence, claiming that his credentials from Rodriguez superseded all restrictions from Xavier. In that capacity he had given trouble everywhere. All the native students had at last been dismissed from the College.
Down along the Fishery Coast he had thrown everything into confusion. Customs which Francis had wisely conceded Antonio had prohibited. What was not done in Portugal could never be allowed among Indian natives. In his scheme for extending colleges he had usurped the properties of others; churches assigned for the use of the Society he had claimed for his own.
In Goa itself the Jesuit fathers were almost in open revolt. They no longer knew whom they were to obey.
To add to the confusion, just before the arrival of Francis in Goa, another father had come out from Portugal, sent as superior by Rodriguez, the Provincial. But when he presented his credentials it was noticed that they did not bear the signature of Ignatius; evidently Rodriguez had appointed him on his own authority alone. Moreover he was a new man, utterly unacquainted with the conditions in the East; and the fathers had had bitter enough experience with Antonio to risk another reformer from Portugal.
He must await the arrival of Father Francis before he could be allowed to supersede even the dreaded existing superior.
Xavier arrived in Goa in February, 1552. He was there only two months before he set off again on his final voyage to China. But in those two months much had to be done. Now that he was Provincial with power to act independently he could remove Fr.
Antonio from office, at the same time he feared to repeat his last experience with the newcomer from Portugal. In spite of many remonstrances, Antonio was sent to Diu, far up the coast; Francis would listen to no entreaty, not even that of the Viceroy himself.
Still he would not install in his place the newly-appointed Fr.
Melchior Nunez. The story is that when they met Fr. Francis asked him: "What qualities do you possess to fit you to be a Rector?" Fr. Melchior replied: "Six years of theology and three of philosophy." "Would that you had six years of experience," was Xavier's answer, and he sent him away to Bassein to gain it. In his stead, in spite of the reasons which before had made him hesitate, he appointed Fr. Gaspar. In his hands he left everything; secretly he added this, that in the next year, when the ship set sail for Portugal, Antonio was to be dismissed and sent home with it.
On Maundy Thursday of that same year Francis set sail again, never to return. At first all seemed to go well. He was received with honor in Malacca, where he gave a friend, a certain Pereira, a letter, appointing him ambassador, to go along with him to the "King" of China. Then began more trouble. The Governor of Malacca refused to let Pereira go; he turned also on Francis, and many of his Court followed suit. Francis sailed away with another wound in his heart, accompanied by two servants, the one a Chinese, the other an Indian. "Never in all my life have I endured persecution like this, not even from pagans or Mohammedans," was his summary of his last sojourn on Portuguese soil; and in a farewell letter to Fr. Gaspar he wrote:
"Master Gaspar, you cannot imagine how I have been persecuted here in Malacca."
But even that was not all. He left Malacca in July; in November he lay a dying man on the hillside of Sancian. The ship that had brought him had slipped away home without giving him a word of warning; there remained in the harbor a single Portuguese sloop, waiting for good weather. Xavier lay beneath a temporary shelter, open on every side, the cold north wind beating mercilessly upon him. His companions and nurses were his two boys, one a Chinese, the other an Indian; during all his illness not a single European from the vessel in the harbor went near him. So he died, deserted in death as for the most part he had been in life, within sight of a goal which again he was doomed not to reach, repeating again and again in mingled sadness and resignation: "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me." Meanwhile in Goa a letter from Ignatius was awaiting him, bidding him come home to Europe. He had failed in his childish ambitions, failed as a University professor, failed as a monk or a hermit, failed as an Italian preacher, failed as a Court orator, and after all that he was to reap a harvest which he was never to know. No, St. Francis Xavier, the Apostle of the East, was not wholly a success; had he been that he would have failed to resemble his Master, the Failure of Calvary. And in that very failure, more than in all his triumphs, is the real greatness of the saint to be found. For through it all he never once flinched or surrendered.
He appealed to be brought home, but he did not linger for the recall. He appealed for better support, but he went on using what he had at his disposal. He saw in all his failures proof of his own incompetence; but he strove with might and main to give without reserve the little he had to give. Xavier was great, not so much because of what he did as because of what he failed to do.
This, then, is the other side of the life of one of the most successful of the chosen servants of God. There is a greater greatness than the greatness of success; and that is the greatness of failure. For that is the greatness of being, without the encouragement of doing; the greatness of sacrifice, of which others less great may reap the fruits.
What became of his beloved College of St. Paul? A visitor to Goa will find there a deserted town, with nothing standing but its churches. Palm trees grow in the marketplace, where once the grim rites of the Inquisition were performed. If he asks where stood, and what is now left of, the College of St. Paul, he will be told that the spot is out of the way and its ruins are not worth a visit. But if he insists, he will be taken a mile or so from the center of the town towards the sea, along a road flanked by palms, and there he will find standing on his left a single wall, pierced by an arched doorway, and will almost wonder how it still stands, all alone and unsupported. It is the facade of the old church of the College; the foundations of the rest are hidden beneath a tangle of bush. If he goes a little farther, and climbs the wall that skirts the road, he will find himself in a similar waste of undergrowth. Let him work his way up through this, and he will discover still standing among the trees, the little chapel in the garden where Xavier used to hide for a month at a time from his labors, and, on the left, the well where he cooled his heart when it threatened to burst in an ecstasy of love.
The buildings of the College have gone, but the College itself still lives. Some years after the saint's death the place where the College stood became hopelessly malarial, and students and staff had to leave it. They went inland, to a more open country; and now at Rachol the great seminary of Goa preserves the tradition unbroken. It is not without significance that of all the works established by St. Francis Xavier, this, which was dearest to his heart, and cost him more than all the rest, is the only one that has survived. His spirit still broods over Southern India; there more than anywhere else may the Catholic faith be seen in all its vigor. Still, even here it would be hard to say what single area bears certain proofs of his labor. Much has been entirely swept away, by persecution and invasion; what may have survived has been merged in the work of the missionaries who have come after. Only at Rachol, the tree which he certainly planted, and watered with his heart's blood, still lives and bears the fruit for which he expressly planted it.
This excerpt is taken from the book SAINTS FOR SINNERS by Alban Goodier, S.J.
IMAGE BOOKS EDITION 1959 A Division of Doubleday & Company, Inc. New York
by special arrangement with Sheed & Ward, Inc.
Image Books edition published September, 1959