Saint John de Brito

Saint John de BritoAlso known as

  • Apostle of Madura
  • John de Britto
  • Jean de….
  • João de….



Born to the Portugese nobility, and a favourite of Don Pedro, king of Portugal. Son of the governor of Brazil. Jesuit at age 15. Studied at the University of Coimbra. Priest.

Against the strenuous objections of his family, he volunteered for the missions in India in 1673, and was sent to Madura. There he studied the complex Indian caste system, and found that most converts belonged to the lowest caste. He realized that for Christianity to have a lasting influence in India, higher caste members must also convert. Worked at Malabar, Tanjore, Marava, and Madura. He established himself as an Indian ascetic, a Pandara Suami, lived as they lived, dressed in saffron cloak and turban, and held retreats in the wilderness in southern India where interested Indians could visit him.

In time he was accepted as a Suami, his reputation grew, and though the locals would sometimes torture him, he converted as many as 10,000. Appointed superior of the mission in 1685. Among them was a prince whom he told to give up his wives. One of the wives, the niece of the rajah, had John imprisoned and tortured for a month, but being a religious man was no crime, so he was released.

His success in converting Indians to Christianity brought on the ire of the Brahmins, the highest Indian caste, and they decided to kill him. John and his catechists were imprisoned, tortured, and ordered to leave the country. When he refused, the rajah ordered John executed. At the execution site, he knelt in prayer, and the rajah’s order was read. The executioner hesitated; John told him, “My friend, I have prayed to God. On my part, I have done what I should do. Now do your part.” He did.







MLA Citation

  • “Saint John de Brito“. CatholicSaints.Info. 16 May 2020. Web. 18 September 2021. <>