Sacred Space - Sacred Heart

Day 5: The mission of Francis in South Asia – 1542-1549 (part 1)

Travelling from Rome to Lisbon and then on to Goa took Francis almost two years. (In 1540, the Pope established the “Companions of Jesus” as a religious order in the Catholic Church. They were later to be called the ‘Society of Jesus’, and to become more popularly known as the Jesuits.)

When Francis arrived in Goa in 1542, he had a reputation for helping the poor and the sick, and zealously seeking to encourage people to live a good life. It was recorded that Francis always looked happy, despite two months of continual seasickness, and other illnesses along the way.

In 1542 the Portuguese Governor of Goa asked Francis to teach the pearl fishers (Paravas) of Cape Comorin in South India. They were nominal Christians, but had received no formal instructions on their new faith, because no priest had ever learned their language. He set about learning Tamil, the local language, and managed to translate the Creed.

He experienced the loneliness of working in a foreign culture. He had been promised two Jesuit helpers, but they never arrived. After a year he decided to return to Goa to see what had happened to them. He was so well accepted by the people that a number of young Paravas went along with him to be trained for Christian ministry.


  • When I feel alienated from my surroundings to whom do I turn?
  • When things get difficult for me, where do I draw my strength from?

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