Oil Dedicated to St John de Britto (martyr)
St John de Britto, was born in Lisbon on March 1, 1647 to a noble Portuguese family. His father died while serving as Viceroy of Brazil.
Growing up, John was a playmate to the future King of Portugal, Pedro II. At fifteen, the young nobleman applied to join the Society of Jesus into which he was duly accepted. His talent for academic excellence was soon noted by his superiors. However, John’s great admiration and devotion to St. Francis Xavier urged him to apply to serve in the Indian missions.
Amid strong opposition from his family, in 1673 John traveled to Madura in southern India.
As he traveled throughout India on foot, John lived austerely. He dressed himself in the saffron cloak and turban of the native Indians, abstained from eating meat and lived humbly. Through his holy efforts, John soon became well-known, and developed a group of catechists.
Though the practice of Catholicism was not illegal in India. John was hated by many because of his faith. He and his followers were often subjected to agonizing torture. But each time John miraculously recovered.
In 1683, John was banished from India, and departed for Portugal. Returning soon after, the ardent missionary continued in his apostolate for three more years. In 1693, he was again arrested, tortured and once more commanded to leave India. When he refused, John was sentenced to death. “I await death, and I await it with impatience,” he wrote to his superior. “It has always been the object of my prayers. It forms today the most precious reward of my labors and my sufferings.”
On February 4, John de Britto was executed. As he knelt at the execution block, the rajah’s order of death was read aloud.