The Life And Legend Of St. Francis Xavier

Museu de São Roque

The Sacristy of São Roque
The Sacristy of São Roque is important, both symbolically and artistically, for being one of the earliest sacristies constructed by the Sociaty of Jesus, conceived in line with the liturgical. recommendations emanating from the Council of Trent Church sacristies took on the added function os "art galleries" for the edification of the faithful. The Jesuits of São Roque werw in the forefront of this devellopment.In the sacristy are two large valuable 17 century chests of drawers made of jacaranda and of rose wood overlaidwith ebony and inlaid with ivory. The walls are almost completely covered with threerows of valuable paintings laid out in superimposed friezes up the vaulted ceiling.The ceiling of the sacrity composed of a round vault divided into coffers decorated with 17 century frescos wich contain emblems with Biblical symbols alluding to the Virgin Mary, later integrated into a "Litany os the Virgin".
Cycle of Painting of St. Francis Xavier
Cycle of Painting I
In the sacristy are two large valuable 17 century chests of drawers made of jacaranda and of rose wood overlaidwith ebony and inlaid with ivory. The walls are almost completely covered with threerows of valuable paintings laid out in superimposed friezes up the vaulted ceiling.The lowest row of twenty paintings, considered to be the most important, recounts incidents and miracles in the life of St. Francis Xavier, especially his travels to the Far East. They were executed by the 17 century Portuguese Manneirist painter André Reinoso (ca.1590-after 1641) and his collaborators.The middle row dating back to the 18 century is attributed to André Gonçalves (1687-1762). It depicts various stages of the Passion of Christ interlaced with allegoric paintings captioned with Biblical passags. These pieces were old processional banners, commisioned in 1761 by the House of Charity of Lisbon from Gonçalves; later on they were taken apart and arranged as pictures in the sacristy. In the upper frieze the paintings are of scenes from the life of St. Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus. They came here from the now-defunct Jesuit novitiate at Cotovia and are attributed to Domingos da Cunha, the "Cabrinha".
Pope Paul III receives St. Francis Xavier
The painting depicts one of the historical meetings of the first Jesuits with the Pope in the year of the official approval of the Society of Jesus in 1540. Here the saint is kneeling in front of the Pontiff as he receives the papal blessing before his departure to Portugal on the way to India. Behind him are standing St. Ignatius Loyola and D. Pedro de Mascarenhas, the ambassador of Portugal in Rome.
St. Francis Xavier attends the sick people in Venice
The scene features one of the activities of the saint in Venice, namely attending the sick and dying during his short stay in Venice in 1537. In the scene St. Francis Xavier is sitting hearing the confession of a sick man, while friends and relatives watch with emotion and respect.
St. Francis Xavier meets king John III of Portugal before His departure to         India
St. Francis Xavier is received by king John III of Portugal in a special meeting to bid farewell before his departure to India, in 1541. The saint is accompanied by his companion Fr. Simão Rodrigues de Azevedo. In the background, looking over the balcony, one can see the river Tagus and the ship waiting for the saint missionary to embark
St. Francis Xavier heals a sick man in Goa
The painting shows one of the first miracles attributed to St. Francis Xavier shortly after he arrived in Goa (1542). The scene takes place before the altar of Our Lady where many faithful are gathered in prayer for the sick.
St. Francis Xavier preaching in Goa
The scene shows the preaching of the saint in the cosmopolitan city of Goa, in 1542. The picture is particularly interesting on the ethnographic point of view, showing the variety of oriental customs, as well as the different social classes. A crowd of new converts, men, women and children listen to the saint, who is standing on the right side explaining the Christian faith.
St. Francis Xavier presents the Holy Cross
The painting features the saint explaining the Christian Cross to the native population of the Malabar coast, after the initial conversion of the Paravas fishermen. Legend tells that about ten thousand villagers in that region were baptized by St. Francis Xavier.
St. Francis Xavier restores to life a native of Ceylon
The episode stands out as one of the so called miracles attributed to St. Francis Xavier by his Portuguese biographer Father João de Lucena. Here the missionary is blessing a recent buried young man native of Ceylon, who after the blessing returned to life. The scene shows with vivid realism the colourful variety of Oriental customs.
St. Francis Xavier celebrating Mass in the Church of St. Paul in Goa
Reinoso portrays the saint saying Mass at the Church of St. Paul in Goa, the first Jesuit church in the Orient. St. Francis Xavier is giving Communion to a congregation of Portuguese noblemen and Indian natives in front of a mannerist altar decorated with a beautiful altar frontal.  
St. Francis Xavier relieves the thirst of his travelling companions
The scene happened during the trip across the Indian Ocean on the way to Malacca when the ship run out of drinking water. Then St. Francis Xavier was requested by the desperate passengers to bless the sea water, which he did touching the sea with his feet; suddenly the saltwater turned potable, thus relieving the thirst of all the travellers. 
St. Francis Xavier is tempted by demons 
According to the biographer the scene must have happened when St. Francis Xavier visited the tomb of the Apostle Thomas in Melliapor (India east coast) and stayed there for a spiritual retreat. Here the saint is brutally tempted by demons while at the same time implores the help to Our Lady.
Cycle of Painting II
In the sacristy are two large valuable 17 century chests of drawers made of jacaranda and of rose wood overlaidwith ebony and inlaid with ivory. The walls are almost completely covered with threerows of valuable paintings laid out in superimposed friezes up the vaulted ceiling.The lowest row of twenty paintings, considered to be the most important, recounts incidents and miracles in the life of St. Francis Xavier, especially his travels to the Far East. They were executed by the 17 century Portuguese Manneirist painter André Reinoso (ca.1590-after 1641) and his collaborators.The middle row dating back to the 18 century is attributed to André Gonçalves (1687-1762). It depicts various stages of the Passion of Christ interlaced with allegoric paintings captioned with Biblical passags. These pieces were old processional banners, commisioned in 1761 by the House of Charity of Lisbon from Gonçalves; later on they were taken apart and arranged as pictures in the sacristy. In the upper frieze the paintings are of scenes from the life of St. Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus. They came here from the now-defunct Jesuit novitiate at Cotovia and are attributed to Domingos da Cunha, the "Cabrinha".
St. Francis Xavier blesses Portugueses soldiers
The scene shows a truly historical event, namely the naval battle against the Achenese pirates on 4th December 1547, in the sea of Malacca. The painting features St. Francis Xavier giving blessing to Portuguese soldiers just before they sail out to the open sea to repel the invaders from attacking Malacca.
St. Francis Xavier prevents Diogo Gomes’ ship from wrecking
The painting portrays another miracle attributed to St. Francis Xavier. When he was making a trip to the Moluccan Islands aboard the ship commanded by Diogo Gomes, in 1546, apparently the ship was caught by a sudden storm and some passengers fell out of the vessel. However, due to the saint’s prayers the tragedy was avoided and nobody died. Even the few people who had fallen in the sea were rescued safely. 
St. Francis Xavier and the miracle of the crab
The scene presents one of the famous miracles recorded by the Xaverian biographer João de Lucena. When the missionary travelled across the Moluccan Islands, namely from the Amboin Island to the Ceram Island to visit Portuguese Christians, all of a sudden the ship was tossed by huge waves and the missionary lost his crucifix. But when the torment subsided and the passengers could come ashore, he was stunned to find the cross in the beach held by a crab.
St. Francis Xavier tries to halt the invasion of Achenese pirates in Malacca
The painting portrays another historical event, namely when St. Francis Xavier opposed strongly against the invasion of Malacca by the Achenese pirates in 1547. The scene shows a multitude of Muslim pirates holding their flags and trying to attack the fortress city while the saint calls for the help of Portuguese troops to contain the assault. 
Journey of St. Francis Xavier in Japan via Kagoshima
The painting shows St. Francis Xavier travelling across Japan, after he landed in Kagoshima in 1549. Here he is accompanied by his favourite Japanese disciple and interpreter Anjiro, who helped him to approach the Japanese natives. The missionary departed from Malacca in July 1549 together with two Jesuit companions, Fr. Cosme de Torres and Juan Fernandes Oviedo.
St. Francis Xavier preaching at the Daimio of Yamaguchi court
The scene shows the saint preaching at the court of daimio Oufsi Yoshikata of Yamaguchi, in March 1551. The saint is trying both with the help of interpreters and of the Holy Spirit, symbolized by a dove, to explain the rudiments of the Christian faith to the Japanese. It was precisely at Yamaguchi that he started his cultural and spiritual dialogue with the Japan.
St Francis Xavier heals a sick man in Japan
The scene happened likely during his stay at the court of Daimio Fu-Tcheu, the modern Funai (today Oita) the capital of Bungo, in September 1551. The Daimio of Bungo would be one of the first converts to Christian faith and there upon a powerful protector of the Jesuit missionaries.
The stormy voyage of St. Francis Xavier after leaving Japan
The composition shows a dramatic situation namely the return trip from Japan in 1552, across the sea of China. According to his biographer the vessel that transported the saint and many passengers was hit fiercely by a storm that lasted for five days. Strong winds tore up sails and ropes, and forced sailors to distribute travellers on small boats so as to alleviate the ship. While the painter depicts this gloomy atmosphere he shows the saint in peaceful prayer, trying filled with hope to calm down the situation.    
Death of St. Francis Xavier on the Island of Sanchian
The scene represents the death of St. Francis Xavier at the Chinese island of Sanchon (or Sanchian) on 3rd December 1552, at a small shackle of local fishermen, while he was awaiting permission to land in the mainland China. The saint is shown giving his last breath, uttering the word Jesus, while receiving the vision of Heaven.  
Receiving the body of St. Francis Xavier in St. Paul’s Church in Goa
The body of the dead saint was removed from Sanchoan and carried by the Portuguese sailing ship Santa Cruz to Malacca in February 1553, where it received the first public homage. Afterwards the corpse was shipped to Goa to receive the homage of the local Christians gathered at the Church of St. Paul. The painting depicts a moving celebration whereby the main social classes venerate the apostle of India: at the centre, the viceroy followed by the nobles, the clergy in procession, and the simple faithful surrounding the coffin, showing great devotion. 
Credits: Story

General Coordination: Margarida Montenegro
Executive Coordenator: Teresa Morna
Exhibition Curators: Maria Lino; António Meira; Luísa Colen; Patrícia Lamas
Photo Credits: Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa; Júlio Marques

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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