Roman Catholic Missions — October 16, 2009 at 1:01 pm

Francis Xavier

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In 1542 Xavier, along with two other Jesuits arrived in Goa,India. In this city, the capital of the Portuguese possessions, he began his missionary labors that have made his name famous. In Malacca in December 1547 Francis Xavier met a Japanese from Kagoshima named Anjiro.

A statue of St.Francis Xavier (center), Anjirō (left) and Bernard of Kagoshima (right) in Xavier Park (Kagoshima city, Japan).

A statue of St.Francis Xavier (center), Anjirō (left) and Bernard of Kagoshima (right) in Xavier Park (Kagoshima city, Japan).

Anjiro had heard from Francis in 1545 and had traveled from Kagoshima to Malacca with the purpose of meeting with him. Having been charged with murder, Anjiro had fled Japan. He told Francis extensively about his former life and the customs and culture of his beloved homeland. Anjiro helped Xavier as a mediator and translator for the mission to Japan that now seemed much more possible. “I asked [Anjiro] whether the Japanese would become Christians if I went with him to this country, and he replied that they would not do so immediately, but would first ask me many questions and see what I knew. Above all, they would want to see whether my life corresponded with my teaching. If you should satisfy them on these points–by suitable replies to their inquiries and by a life above reproach–then, as soon as the matter was known and fully examined, the Daimyo, the nobles and the educated people would become Christians.”

He returned to India in January 1548. The next 15 months were occupied with various journeys and administrative measures in India. Then, due to displeasure at what he considered un-Christian life and manners on the part of the Portuguese which impeded missionary work, he traveled from the South into East Asia. He left Goa on 15 April 1549, stopped at Malacca and visited Canton. He was accompanied by Anjiro, two other Japanese men, the father Cosme de Torrès and Brother João Fernandes. He had taken with him presents for the “King of Japan” since he was intending to introduce himself as the Apostolic Nuncio.

The Fervent, restless spirit of Xavier was moved with an earnest desire to carry Christianity to Japan. No sooner did he broach the subject to his friends than he was assailed by a multitude of objections. he was told there was so much to do in the Portuguese colonies that he could not be spared. When the dangers of the undertaking were portrayed, he asked if the servants of God ought to be less willing than the merchants to run risks.

Saint Francis Xavier was one of the founding members of the Society of Jesus, also known as the Jesuits.

Saint Francis Xavier was one of the founding members of the Society of Jesus, also known as the Jesuits.

Francis Xavier reached Japan on 27 July 1549 with Anjiro and three other Jesuits, but it was not until 15 August that he went ashore at Kagoshima, the principal port of the province of Satsuma on the island of Kyūshū. As a representative of the Portuguese king, he was received in a friendly manner. hosted by Anjiro’s family until October 1550. From October to December 1550, he resided in Yamaguchi. Shortly before Christmas, he left for Kyoto but failed to meet with the Emperor. He returned to Yamaguchi in March 1551 where he was permitted to preach by the daimyo of the province. However, lacking fluency in the Japanese language, he had to limit himself to reading aloud the translation of a catechism.

Francis was the first Jesuit to go to Japan as a missionary. He brought with him paintings of the Madonna and the Madonna and Child. These paintings were used to help teach the Japanese about Christianity. There was a huge language barrier as Japanese was unlike other languages the missionaries had previously encountered. For a long time Francis struggled to learn the language. Artwork continued to play a role in Francis’s teachings in Asia.

A Little bit of Japanese history at the time of Xavier’s arrival.

From ancient times the country had been divided into 66 provinces. The nominal ruler of the whole country was the Mikado, to whom alone the name Emperor could properly be applied. Since A.D. 793, the Imperial residency had been in Kyoto. The Emperor possessed but little real authority at the time Xavier came to japan. Since the 12th Century the power had been in the hands of military rulers who obtained for themselves the title Seie Tai Shogun, or barbarian-Expelling Great-General. The Empire was at its lowest ebb under the shoguns of the Ashikaga family, whose rule began in 1338. Some of the most powerful lords cherished ambitions for extending their influence over the whole country. To Accomplish this, each schemed how he might gradually make his way towards Kyoto, where, by obtaining possession of Shogun and Emperor, he could become the real ruler of the land. It was from one of those small daimiates that there arose a warrior who was able to accomplish more than any other had done. This was Oda Nobunaga, who in 1549–the year Xavier reached Japan–succeeded to his father’s estates in the province of Owari.

Oda Nobunaga  (June 23, 1534 – June 21, 1582) was a major daimyo during the Sengoku period of Japanese history. He was the second son of Oda Nobuhide, a deputy shugo (military governor) with land holdings in Owari province。Nobunaga lived a life of continuous military conquest, eventually conquering a third of Japanese daimyo before his death in 1582. His successor, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, a loyal Oda supporter, would eventually become the first man to conquer all of Japan and the first ruler of all Japan since the Ōnin War.

Oda Nobunaga (June 23, 1534 – June 21, 1582) was a major daimyo during the Sengoku period of Japanese history. He was the second son of Oda Nobuhide, a deputy shugo (military governor) with land holdings in Owari province。Nobunaga lived a life of continuous military conquest, eventually conquering a third of Japanese daimyo before his death in 1582. His successor, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, a loyal Oda supporter, would eventually become the first man to conquer all of Japan and the first ruler of all Japan since the Ōnin War.

The early religion of the Japanese was Shinto. Buddhism entered the country from Korea about the middle of the 6th century. Gradually it became the leading religion of the land, its success being in large part due to the promulgation of the theory that the beings hitherto worshiped by the Japanese were incarnations of the Buddhists saints. Some of the temples became very wealthy and powerful. The priests often took an active part in political and even in military movements. The monasteries were in many cases strong fortresses whose inmates were better trained in the use of the sword than in ceremonies of worship. Those that had their headquarters on Mt. Hiei, an eminence overlooking Kyoto, were especially noted for their turbulence.Sometimes, when displeased at action taken in the name of the Emperor, they would march down from the mountain, those in the front ranks carrying the sacred cars on their shoulders, while others clad in full armor followed after them. In the 11th century the Emperor Shirakawa once said to a flatterer who praised his achievements: “There are three things that I never succeeded in controlling–the trow of the dice, the flooded waters of the Kamo river, and the monks of Mt. Hiei.”

Buddhism was at its height of its influence at the time of Xavier s arrival in Japan.  Murdoch writes:”It is no exaggeration that at the date of the first arrivals of Europeans in Japan the greatest political power in the empire was that of the Buddhist priesthood.” As A natural consequence, those that desired power for themselves were ready to welcome whatever seemed likely to weaken that of Buddhism. This is doubtless the chief reason why Nobunaga showed such favor to the missionaries. Kagoshima, the port at which Xavier landed, was in the territories of the Daimyo Shimazu Takahisa. he and Otomo Yoshishige of Bungo, were the most powerful lords in the island of Kyushu.

Shimazu Takahisa
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Shimazu Shimazu “>Takahisa (島津貴久; 1514-July 15, 1571), the son of Shimazu Tadayoshi, was a daimyo during Japan’s Sengoku period. He was the fifteenth head of the Shimazu clan.

On 1526, Takahisa was adopted as the successor to Shimazu Katsuhisa and became head of the clan. He launched a series of campaigns to reclaim three provinces: Satsuma, Osumi, and Hyūga. While he made some progress, it would be up to the next generation in the Shimazu family to successfully reclaim them. He nurtured such future leaders like Shimazu Shimazu “>Yoshihisa and his brothers Yoshihiro, Toshihisa and Iehisa who would, for a short time, see the Shimazu clan take over the entire island of Kyūshū.

Takahisa actively promoted relationships with foreign people and countries. He was the first daimyo to bring Western firearms into Japan, following the shipwreck of a number of Portuguese on Tanegashima in 1543. In 1549, he welcomed St. Francis Xavier. He granted the Jesuit protection to spread Christianity in his domain, but later retracted his support of Christianity under pressure from local Buddhist monks. Takahisa also held a diplomatic relationship with the Ryūkyū Kingdom.

Ōtomo Sōrin (大友 宗麟?, 1530-1587), also known as Fujiwara no Yoshishige (藤原 義鎮) and Ōtomo Yoshishige (大友 義鎮), was a Japanese feudal lord (daimyo) of the Ōtomo clan, one of the few to have converted to Christianity. The eldest son of Ōtomo Yoshiaki, he inherited the domain of Funai, on Kyūshū, Japan’s southernmost main island, from his father. He is perhaps most significant for having appealed to Toyotomi Hideyoshi to intervene in Kyūshū against the Shimazu clan, thus spurring Hideyoshi’s Kyūshū Campaign of 1587.

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