Steadfast Saint John of Brito

From a 19th c. prayer card

Saint John of Brito (1647 – 1693) was a Jesuit martyr in India, called the ‘Portuguese Francis Xavier’, as well as second Saint John the Baptist, for his witness to the sanctity of marriage. From a wealthy family, he left all to follow Christ, joining the Jesuits in 1662, and, after his formation, was sent to evangelize India in 1673. The letter requesting this apostolate to the missions in his mid-twenties – likely never to return – signifies his determination and singularity of purpose, but also his beautiful script:

In the spirit of inculturation, Father John adopted the diet and dress of the native population, living as a vegan, abstaining from all meat and alcohol, living on legumes, fruits and herbs, even adopting a new name, Arul Anandar. He could certainly walk the walk. He also dressed in their customary yellow robes, becoming fluent in their language, and explaining the Faith in terms the people could understand and grasp.

His success was profound, including the conversion of Prince Thadiyathethan, who had multiple wives, all of whom he dismissed, except one. Alas, one of the jilted was the daughter of a neighbouring prince, who took umbrage, and began a persecution of Christians in revenge. Brito and his catechists were marched to a beach outside the capital on the southeast coast, Ramnad, and beheaded on February 4th, 1693.

The sand to this day is a reddish colour – they say, from the blood of these martyrs – and a popular place of pilgrimage, with thousands  gathering to pray and intercede to the saint – and not just Catholics – who often answers with miracles.

May the stalwart Saint John of Brito, Arul Anandar, pray for us mightily also. +