Portrait of Saint Francis Xavier (1506-1552), who was one of the founders of "The Society of Jesus" and the first missionary introducing Christianity into Japan in 1549. He and his attendants arrived at Kagoshima, the most southern part of the Kyushu, and took a long trip from Hirado, Yamaguchi, Sakai, Kyoto, to Bungo. Especially in Yamaguchi and Bungo, Xavier succeeded converting many people to Christianity. He left Japan in 1551, but the Christian population in Japan soared due to his successors' efforts.
Xavier's biography spread throughout Europe from the end of the 16th century, and he was canonized by Pope Gregory XV in 1622. The momentum of making Xavier's worship painting increased in Japan under the edicts banning Christianity. "Portrait of St. Francis Xavier" which the Kobe City Museum currently owns is presumed to be one of such works.
This portrait has some remarkable things such as angels, Crucifixion, and his burning heart from the beginning of the drawing. According to the notation of books on Xavier written by Horatius Tursellinus which spread the biographies and images of Xavier all over the world, and Papal bull for the canonization to Xavier in 1622, Francis Xavier often tried to face the overwhelming God's love in his heroic prayer, and his heart grew hot as if it was burning, and he had no choice but to scream “Satis est, Domine, satis est (It’s enough, O Lord, it’s enough”. As to the expression content of this Xavier's portrait, taking into account the graphical features of Flemish print works from the end of the 16th century to the early 17th century, his crossing hands and Crucifixion symbolize his prayer, and angels in the sky imply the existence of the God or intense holly joys.
This portrait was supposed to be painted after 1623. Christianity was officially banned by the Tokugawa shogunate in 1614, and Japanese painters, who studied western painting techniques in the schools established and run by the Society of Jesus around Nagasaki, had to secretly produce various artworks for worship. While most of them were detected and demolished by the shogunate, This portrait had been kept miraculously for hundreds of years in an old house in the Sendaiji ward, located in the northern, mountainous region of the Osaka prefecture. This was discovered in 1920. Ikenaga Hajime, the founder of the Namban art collection in the Kobe City Museum, purchased this portrait to Kobe in 1935.


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