Goa Inquisition - Was St. Francis Xavier a saint or a religious terrorist?

Goa Inquisition. St. Francis Xavier and his victims. Facebook


The very purpose of religion is to train a man to lead a disciplined life in all spheres of daytoday social activities. All religions highlight love, compassion and care for others irrespective of caste, creed, religion and countries. There is no room for violence or hatred. Nor is there a space for advocating terror and intimidation to  spread religion and its tenets. When the fundamental purpose of a religion is defeated, there will be anarchy and chaos. Goa Inquisition, initiated by St. Francis Xavier is suppressed from the Indian history; here the casualty is transparency. The undeniable fact is it is one of the darkest chapters in Indian history under foreign occupation and many school History textbooks do not mention about it.  Unfortunately, many Indian historical events  either do not get the needed exposure or purposely get distorted and stunted. The truth must be told as it is, if not, history does not carry any relevance at all. 

In the matter religious policy of the Portuguese in Goa, the  missionary work of St. Francis Xavier,  was worthy of mention - not in the right sense, but in terms of  its perversion and misuse  on the Indian soil. He is one of the most over-hyped “Christian Saints” ever projected by the Catholic higher authorities.

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In 1538, King John III, of Portugal expressed his  keen desire to send missionaries to the orient and sought the advice of  Ignatius de Loyola in Rome. Francis Xavier was chosen for the task and sent to  Portugal in 1541. In the history of Christianity we have come across a handful of preachers who used violence and torture as main tools to spread Christianity across the continents. Some historians view that such politically motivated Inquisition by the government, using the religious institutions is a stern warning to those who may challenge the government's power. If people get killed in the name of the Government, this will invite protests and resistance from the people. On the other hand, if they get killed in the name of God, there will be less resistance and the government may get away with it. Mixing government and religion is conducive to bad governance.

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St. Francis Xavier statue (1506 –3 déc.1552)iconographie chrétienne

Above image:  In a letter dated 16 May 1546, Francis Xavier requested the ruler of Portugal, King John III  to launch Goa Inquisition in May 1546. His suggestion was implemented in 1560, eight years after Xavier's death. Jesuit missionaries felt there was  a serious threat to the purity of Catholic Christian belief and pressed for Inquisition with a view to punishing the Crypto-Hindus, Crypto-Muslims and Crypto-Jews,   .................................

It was St. Francis Xavier who,  for the first time, brought torture, violence, intimidation and terror to Goa to  harass  the peace-loving Indian natives and to force them to become Catholic Christians against their wish. Not knowing Indian history and the intellectual capacity of the Indians and their solid contribution in Astronomy, Maths, Arts and Science, temple architecture, languages, etc.,  he thought Indian were heretics and Pagans and worshipped  Devils and Demons in idol forms, and intellectually inferior.   He wanted them to follow western religion, western culture and shun vegetarianism and their native religion that has been around for centuries. Instead, he wanted them to eat beef, pork and the meat of other slaughtered animals and behave like Europeans with poise and decorum. In a simple word he expected the "Indians to ape Europeans" and their way of life, food and drinking habit including music, in particular, Portuguese. 


Francis Xavier landed in Goa backed by his earlier participation in Inquisition  in Spain and Portugal  where he had gained  first hand experience of persecuting thousands of Jews and Muslims, using torture, violence and terror.  On May 16, 1545, anxious as he was about the spread of Christianity in the new land of Goa, he made a request to the  King of Portugal to establish Inquisition in Goa. He mentioned, "The second necessity for the Christians is that Your Majesty establish the Holy Inquisition in Goa because there are many who live according to the Jewish Law and according to the Mohammedan Sect, without any fear of God or Shame of the World. And since there are many Hindus who are spread all over the fortresses, there is the need of the Holy Inquisition, and of many preaches, Your Majesty should provide such necessary things for your loyal and faithful subjects in India".

However, St. Xavier did not see his wish fulfilled on the soils of Goa. But he knew the role of torture and brutality in Inquisition. Driven by religious zeal, in the year 1560 the King of Portugal sent the first Official inquisitors Aleixo Dias Falcfo and Francisco Marques, to India and they established the Inquisition in Goa. This Inquisition was finally abolished only in 1812. The files relating to several crimes committed by the Jesuits  in Goa were kept there first and later taken to Lisbon, apparently to tamper them. It is difficult to gather the true severity of savagery and torture committed by the Jesuits.

Almost all of  Goa Inquisition's records were burnt by the Portuguese when the inquisition was abolished in 1820. However, some records left by the French physician Charles Dellon (also a victim of the Goan Inquisition), and others, point out  that nearly 70% of those found guilty of Crypto-Hinduism were executed and  many prisoners starved to death. The surviving records of missionaries from 16th to 17th century, states Délio de Mendonça, extensively stereotypes and criticizes the Gentiles, a term that broadly referred to Jews, Hindus and Muslims.  Goa Inquisition proceeding, it is recorded, displayed prejudice and racial discrimination against Indians in their own motherland by the invaded Europeans. More than 2000 Indian Christians were murdered during this period and a big chunk of Indian Christians moved over to South Canara in Karnataka and settled down there.  

Goa Inquisition sketch(1560-1820). en.wikipedia.org

 Above image: A version of historic Portuguese Inquisition banner in Goa. The dog sketch varies...........................

On the advice Cardinal Henrique of Portugal Aleixo Díaz Falcão as the first inquisitor  established the first tribunal. The holy council began their official basic Inquisition work in a palace called Holy House in 1560. Portuguese called it Orlem Goro  or Big House,

The palatial office of Goa Inquisition.en.wikipedia.org

 Above image: The Goa Inquisition office was housed in the former palace of Sultan Adil Shah of Bijapur (Karnataka)........

with two hundred cells for the infidels. Earlier it was the residence of the Portuguese Governors of Goa till 1554.  For the express purpose of Inquisition and its successful implementation, the government made certain  suitable modifications  including a Chapel. Added in the palace were  confinements, torture chambers with latest and improvised gadgets for  the heathens and infidels.

The Strappado, used as public punishment,en.wikipedia.com

 Above image: The Strappado, also known as Corda, is a form of torture wherein the victim's hands are tied behind his or her back and suspended by a rope attached to the wrists, typically resulting in dislocated shoulders. Weights may be added to the body to intensify the effect and increase the pain. This kind of torture would generally not last more than an hour, without rest,as it would likely result in death (Wikipedia)..................................

An array of torture gadgets would reveal how cruel and mean were the frenzied  religious heads whose main purpose was to banish  paganism for good in Goa  and to introduce the true religion of  Jesus Christ among the natives. The so-called torture

Christian torture device "Rack"ine Art America

 Above image:  "Rack" is  a rectangular, usually wooden frame, slightly raised from the ground, with a roller at one or both ends. The most commonly known torture device from the Middle Ages.

The victim’s hands and feet were tied to each end and the rollers would be turned, stretching the victim’s body to uncomfortable lengths. As the interrogation continues, a handle and ratchet mechanism attached to the top roller are used to very gradually increase the tension on the chains, inducing excruciating pain.  One fearsome aspect of being stretched too far on the rack is the loud popping noises made by snapping cartilage, ligaments or bones...............................

device Rack’- a system of Pulleys designed to tear the limbs of Hindus apart, described in contemporary accounts is a valid  proof of the ingenuity of these inquisitors. To break the legs and knees of the heretics and pagans, no device was more suitable than the ‘Strappado’ used by Goa Inquisitors. The holy men did not leave the Indian women alone. The came up with a special a horror house device to make them scream which will blow the room. The ingenious torture device is called ‘Breast-Ripper’, an iron vice which was heated red-hot and used to tear out breasts. Thanks to St. Francis, he had no mercy on women; he never excluded women from torture.
Above image:  An 18th century French sketch showing a man condemned to be burnt alive by the Goa Inquisition. The stake is behind to his left, the punishment sketched on shirt. It was inspired by Charles Dellon's persecution...........................

An instrument with sharp spikes was used to cut the ears of the pagans. The purported Holy House (of Christ) was cruelty, barbarism and wickedness personified run by fools and vicious savages just out of uncivilized society.  The corrupt and nauseating religious orders gave a run on Goa and her people. Inquisition, which was introduced in 1560  lasted until the year 1812, a  long span of 252 years of horror and terror in the name of Christ  for the purpose of destroying paganism and introducing the true religion of Christ.  The Inquisition in Goa, in terms of its brutality and savagery, was tagged as  ''the worst of the existing inquisitions in the catholic orb of the five parts of the world,'' as felt unanimously by national and foreign writers.

Christian terror gadget. Goa Inquisition owlcation.com/

Above image: Yet another model of "Strappado". The  victim is suspended in the air by a rope attached to his hands that are tied behind his back.................................

Above image:  Brest-ripper for honorable women. The instrument, made from iron, was designed to rip the breasts from a woman  and was usually heated  during torture. They were designed to shred, or tear off the breasts of the victim. If the woman did not die, she would be horribly disfigured for the rest of her life. It was used on women who were accused of adultery or self-performed abortion. In Goa Inquisition, Christian preachers used this painful torture instruments on Indian women for conversion purpose. St. Francis was aware of this device meant for women. It was used in Spanish Inquisition......... 

Saint Francis Xavier, S.J. (7 April 1506 – 3 December 1552), was a Navarrese Basque Roman Catholic missionary, born in Javier (Xavier in Navarro-Aragonese or Xavier in Basque), Kingdom of Navarre (present day Spain), and a co-founder of the Society of Jesus was a companion of Saint Ignatius of Loyola and one of the first seven prominent Jesuits

The pathetic fact is this Jesuit who propagated violence and torture as a means to popularize Christianity and who played a pivotal role in Spain and Goa Inquisition  was beautified by Pope Paul V on 25 October 1619 and canonized by Pope Gregory XV on 12 March 1622. In 1624, he was made co-patron of Navarre alongside Santiago and was one of the greatest missionaries since Saint Paul. He converted lot of people across the globe not through love and humility but through displaying torture gadgets and humiliation - a total departure from what Christ had preached. Christ took upon himself the sins committed by people, but contrary to Christ's preaching, St Francis and his pseudo Christian missionaries behaved much worse than the "Devils in the Hades". Several of my Christian friends had no idea about Goa Inquisition and its impact on Hindus, Muslims, Jews and even Syrian Christians of India. Nor are they aware that St. Francis Xavier was one the most cruel and despicable Christian Evangelist in the annals of modern Christian history. In India, there are so many well-known institutions, including Management Schools, carrying St. Francis Xavier's name  and the people there extol him and his virtues. I wonder whether they are aware of his major role in killing and maiming thousands of innocent non-Hindus and native Christians on the soil of Goa during Inquisition introduced by him? In terms of savagery and butchery with no room for compassion and mercy there was no difference between St. Francis Xavier  and the early 20th century American mafiosi of "Prohibition Era" whose lives were interwoven with violence, extortion, torture, murder, etc.

By 1567, over 300 Hindu temples over the Konkan Coast had been reduced to rubble. Wiped out across the face of Goa are the time-honored  art, sculpture, and tradition that had been there for a pretty long time.

Francis Xavier, having  left Lisbon on 7 April 1541, his thirty-fifth birthday, along with two other Jesuits and the new viceroy Martim Afonso de Sousa, on board the Santiago arrived in Goa (then capital of Portuguese India) on 6 May 1542.  Being a hard core Catholic, an anti-reformist, anti- Brahman, he was one of the six preachers  who founded the Society of Jesus on 15th August, 1534.  He landed in Goa with a strong resolve to stamp out paganism from the Indian soil and imparting the nuances of Christian faith  in its place. To achieve it, he proposed persecution and oppression of the Hindus and other faiths.  Hindu temple destruction and other places of worship, fraudulent and forceful conversions (sometimes with enticements), all were undertaken with missionary zeal under his expert guidance and advice. No mercy was shown on the Pagans, non-Christians and native Christian who were not true to their faith. Christian compassion and understanding marked by unsurpassed nobility took precedence over native faiths. His grunge for the Brahmins may be borne out from the following statement made by Xavier to the ruler, 
"There is in these parts among the pagans a class of men called Brahmans If it were not for the Brahmans, we should have all the heathens embracing our faith". (Goel,St Francis Xavier p.10)

 St. Francis opined, "Hindus are an unholy race. They are liars and cheats to the very backbone. Their idols are black—as black as black can be— ugly and horrible to look at , smeared with oil and smell in a evil manner.

So, Fr. Francis thought conversion was the only option to civilize these idolaters. He needed trained missionaries to cover vast population, so  he was solely responsible for founding St.Paul’s College for training native missionaries to expand Christianity in foreign lands, and particularly, in the east. With respect to  evangelism practised by St Xavier, Hector  mentions : In the matter of conversion Xavier held exceedingly crude ideas. His great aim was to get hold of the younger portion of the population. Tens of thousands of defiant Hindus were murdered or worked to death in mines, ships, and factories- often starved or beaten to death by Christian supervisors Simple practice of Hinduism or even suspicion was enough to punish the Hindus and others. 

Every year  the feast of Saint Francis Xavier is celebrated on the 3rd of December with lot of joy and gaiety in Goa and lots of people cutting across religion castes, etc visit the Old Goa Church - the basilica of Bom Jesus where the mortal remains of St.Francis Xavier are kept. They actively participate in the feast of this Saint. Unfortunately, none of them is aware that Xavier was the one who introduced Inquisition in India and terrorized  Hindus, Muslims, Jews and others by using torture. Thus he totally destroyed the fabric of Goa - its culture, tradition, religion and the native language. He did not even spare the native Christians, in particular St. Thomas Christians either. Under Aleixo de Menezes, the Synod of Diamper in 1599 under duress converted the East Syriac Saint Thomas Christians (also known as Syrian Christians or Nasranis) of Kerala to the Roman Catholic Church. Reason:  They allegedly practiced the Nestorian heresy (meaning: the human and divine persons of Christ are separate).The persecution went on till the Coonan Cross oath and Nasrani rebellion in 1653. When the Dutch took over Fort Kochi in 1663, it resulted in the expulsion of Portuguese from Malabar.  Historian Alfredo de Mello describes the performers of Goan inquisition as ..............."nefarious, fiendish, lustful, corrupt religious orders which pounced on Goa for the purpose of destroying paganism (ie Hinduism) and introducing the true religion of Christ (Wikipedia).

Many accounts point out that Xavier was an extremely racist person and hated Indians, their native cultures and traditions. Many historians point out suppression of true history of Goa under the Portuguese and the feasts celebrated in Xavier's name mean "glorifying a perverted saint who took to violence to spread the Gospel of Love in Goa and elsewhere". A section of Indian Christians in Karnataka even wanted his mortal remains in a Goa church to be sent to Spain or Portugal.

Francis Xavier, conscientious people  would say, was not at all a saint like St. Thomas as he was instrumental in creating   one of the bloodiest chapters in Indian history in the 16th and 17th centuries. Even if Christ were alive to day, he won't accept Xavier as a saint. Since violence was his forte, if St. Francis were alive to day, his right place would be Palarmo, Sicily where he would be enjoying the patronage of Cosa Nostra, a dreaded group of Sicilian Mafiosi (the mob).


Délio de Mendonça (2002). Conversions and Citizenry: Goa Under Portugal, 1510-1610. Concept. pp. 382–385. ISBN 978-81-7022-960-5.