Heroes of the Catholic Faith in the East: Brito gets funds for his mission in the Portuguese court – 10

Joaquim Magalhães de Castro

In Portugal, João de Brito was able to attract people and funds to his mission. While at court, he led the King of Portugal D. Pedro II  to increase the income he sent annually to the Madurai mission and also received various donations. He could not, however, complete the tasks that had brought him to Europe, as D. Pedro II  forbade him to travel to Rome. The King maintained then a dispute with the papacy due to the interference of Propaganda Fidei delegates in areas of the Padroado; the Holy See also wanted him to exempt foreign missionaries who were going to work in the Padroado missions from the usual oath of allegiance to the Portuguese Crown.

At the beginning of 1689, João de Brito had already resolved all the matters he had been assigned, even without going to Rome. He also managed to get D. Pedro II to exempt foreign missionaries from the oath of allegiance. But it was not possible for him to leave immediately for India because it was expressly forbidden by the King. In fact, D. Pedro II was not at all interested in his departure. Fascinated by the personality of his childhood friend, he wanted João with him to educate the heir and advise him on matters relating to the Estado da India. João de Brito, in desperation, tried in every way to get back to his mission, and at the same time he was accused by Father General of not wanting to return to his apostolic work. It is easy to guess the anxiety that would then invade his spirit.

From March 1689 to April 1690, João remained firm in his will, not giving in to any of D. Pedro’s proposals. Finally, when the latter told him that he would accept João’s departure as long as he returned after two years, João agreed. He, however, firmly resolved never to return to the kingdom.

When João left, he was able to take with him a group of missionaries already destined to work in southern India; he had prepared them over the past year, telling them about the country that awaited them, explaining the Hindu religion and sharing his twelve-year mission experience with them.