Saints of the Society of Jesus: Blessed John de Britto

February 11

One of the means adopted by Catholic missionaries always has been to conform themselves to the manners of the people whom they wish to evangelize. It was thus the Jesuit Fathers tried in India, by excelling them in their austerities, to convert the influential caste of the Brahmins. Among these Fathers was Blessed John de Britto. As he belonged to a very noble Portuguese family, it was with difficulty he obtained permission to enter the Society, and, on his return to Portugal, only providentially was enabled to go back to India, the king desiring to keep him at court for the education of his children. No one knows the tens of thousands of infidels whom he baptized.

On the 4th day of February, 1693, he was beheaded for the faith by the King of Marava, urged to this act by his niece, one of the repudiated wives of a prince who had embraced the Christian religion. His remains lie beside those of Saint Francis Xavier, to whom he had been dedicated by his parents, at Goa. He himself went joyfully to martyrdom, and when the news of his death reached Portugal, his heroic mother appeared at court in royal robes, where she was treated with the honors accorded to a queen.