THE WORKS OF JOHN DRYDEN,
NOW FIRST COLLECTED IN EIGHTEEN VOLUMES.
ILLUSTRATED WITH NOTES, HISTORICAL, CRITICAL, AND EXPLANATORY,
AND A LIFE OF THE AUTHOR,
BY WALTER SCOTT, ESQ.
* * * * *
LONDON: PRINTED FOR WILLIAM MILLER, ALBEMARLE STREET, BY JAMES BALLANTYNE AND CO. EDINBURGH.
CONTENTS OF VOLUME SIXTEENTH.
PAGE. The Life of St Francis Xavier, of the Society of Jesus, Apostle of the Indies, and of Japan, ... 1 Dedication to the Queen, ................... 3 The Author's Advertisement to the Reader, .. 8 Book I ..................................... 14 Book II .................................... 59 Book III ................................... 116 Book IV .................................... 191 Book V ..................................... 288 Book VI .................................... 408
THE LIFE OF ST FRANCIS XAVIER,
OF THE SOCIETY OF JESUS,
APOSTLE OF THE INDIES, AND OF JAPAN.
TO THE QUEEN.
The reverend author of this life, in his dedication to his Most Christian Majesty, affirms, that France was owing for him to the intercession of St Francis Xavier. That Anne of Austria, his mother, after twenty years of barrenness, had recourse to heaven, by her fervent prayers, to draw down that blessing, and addressed her devotions, in a particular manner, to this holy apostle of the Indies. I know not, madam, whether I may presume to tell the world, that your majesty has chosen this great saint for one of your celestial patrons, though I am sure you will never be ashamed of owning so glorious an intercessor; not even in a country where the doctrine of the holy church is questioned, and those religious addresses ridiculed. Your majesty, I doubt not, has the inward satisfaction of knowing, that such pious prayers have not been unprofitable to you; and the nation may one day come to understand, how happy it will be for them to have a son of prayers ruling over them. Not that we are wholly to depend on this particular blessing, as a thing of certainty, though we hope and pray for its continuance. The ways of Divine Providence are incomprehensible; and we know not in what times, or by what methods, God will restore his church in England, or what farther trials and afflictions we are yet to undergo. Only this we know, that if a religion be of God, it can never fail; but the acceptable time we must patiently expect, and endeavour by our lives not to undeserve. I am sure if we take the example of our sovereigns, we shall place our confidence in God alone; we shall be assiduous in our devotions, moderate in our expectations, humble in our carriage, and forgiving of our enemies. All other panegyrics I purposely omit; but those of Christianity are such, that neither your majesty, nor my royal master, need be ashamed of them, because their commemoration is instructive to your subjects. We may be allowed, madam, to praise Almighty God for making us happy by your means, without suspicion of flattery; and the meanest subject has the privilege of joining his thanksgiving with his sovereigns, where his happiness is equally concerned. May it not be permitted me to add, that to be remembered, and celebrated in after ages, as the chosen vessel, by which it has pleased the Almighty Goodness to transmit so great a blessing to these nations, is a secret satisfaction, which is not forbidden you to take; the blessings of your people are a prelibation of the joys in heaven, and a lawful ambition here on earth.
Your majesty is authorized, by the greatest example of a mother, to rejoice in a promised son. The blessed Virgin was not without as great a proportion of joy, as humanity could bear, when she answered the salutation of the angel in expressions, which seemed to unite the contradicting terms of calmness, and of transport: "Be it to thy hand-maid, according to thy word."
It is difficult for me to leave this subject, but more difficult to pursue it as I ought; neither must I presume to detain your majesty by a long address. The life of Saint Francis Xavier, after it had been written by several authors in the Spanish and Portuguese, and by the famous Padre Bartoli in the Italian tongue, came out at length in French, by the celebrated pen of Father Bohours, from whom I have translated it, and humbly crave leave to dedicate it to your patronage. I question not but it will undergo the censure of those men, who teach the people, that miracles are ceased. Yet there are, I presume, a sober party of the Protestants, and even of the most learned among them, who being convinced, by the concurring testimonies of the last age, by the suffrages of whole nations in the Indies and Japan, and by the severe scrutinies that were made before the act of canonization, will not dispute the truth of most matters of fact as they are here related; nay, some may be ingenuous enough to own freely, that to propagate the faith amongst infidels and heathens, such miraculous operations are as necessary now in those benighted regions, as when the Christian doctrine was first planted by our blessed Saviour and his apostles.
The honourable testimonies which are cited by my author, just before the conclusion of his work, and one of them in particular from a learned divine of the church of England, though they slur over the mention of his miracles, in obscure and general terms, yet are full of veneration for his person. Farther than this I think it needless to prepossess a reader; let him judge sincerely, according to the merits of the cause, and the sanctity of his life, of whom such wonders are related, and attested with such clouds of witnesses; for an impartial man cannot but of himself consider the honour of God in the publication of his gospel, the salvation of souls, and the conversion of kingdoms, which followed from those miracles; the effects of which remain in many of them to this day.
But that it is not lawful for me to trespass so far on the patience of your majesty, I should rather enlarge on a particular reflection, which I made in my translation of this book, namely, that the instructions of the saint, which are copied from his own writings, are so admirably useful, so holy, and so wonderfully efficacious, that they seem to be little less than the product of an immediate inspiration. So much excellent matter is crowded into so small a compass, that almost every paragraph contains the value of a sermon. The nourishment is so strong, that it requires but little to be taken at a time. Where he exhorts, there is not an expression, but what is glowing with the love of God; where he directs a missioner, or gives instructions to a substitute, we can scarcely have a less idea than of a St Paul advising a Timothy, or a Titus. Where he writes into Europe, he inspires his ardour into sovereign princes, and seems, with the spirit of his devotion, even to burn his colleagues at the distance of the Indies.
But, madam, I consider that nothing I can say is worthy to detain you longer from the perusal of this book, in which all things are excellent, excepting only the meanness of my performance in the translation. Such as it is, be pleased, with your inborn goodness, to accept it, with the offer of my unworthy prayers for the lasting happiness of my gracious sovereign, for your own life and prosperity, together with the preservation of the son of prayers, and the farther encrease of the royal family; all which blessings are continually implored from heaven, by,
MADAM, Your Majesty's most humble, And most obedient subject and servant, JOHN DRYDEN.
[Footnote 1: Mary of Este, wife of James II.]
[Footnote 2: The superstitious and, as it proved, fatal insinuation, that the birth of the Chevalier de St George was owing to the supernatural intercession of St Francis Xavier, was much insisted on by the Protestants as an argument against the reality of his birth. See the Introduction to "Britannia Rediviva," Vol. X. p. 285. In that piece, our author also alludes to this foolery: Hail, son of prayers, by holy violence Drawn down from heaven!—]
[Footnote 3: The Reverend Richard Hackluyt, editor of the large collection of voyages to which Purchas' Pilgrim is a continuation.]
THE AUTHOR'S ADVERTISEMENT TO THE READER.
Having already presented you with the Life of St Ignatius, I thought myself obliged to give you that of St Francis Xavier. For, besides that it was just that the son should attend the father, it seemed to me, that these two saints being concerned so much together, the history of the apostle of India and Japan would give you a clearer knowledge of him who was founder of the Jesuits. I may add likewise, that many considerable persons, and particularly of the court, have testified so great a desire to see a complete history of St Xavier in our language, that I thought my labour would not be unacceptable to them; and that in satisfying my own private devotion, I might at the same time content the curiosity of others.
The writings out of which I have drawn this work, have furnished me with all I could desire for the perfection of it, in what regards the truth and the ornaments of this history: for without speaking of Turselline and Orlandino, I have diligently read Lucena and Bartoli; the first of which Wrote in Portuguese with this title, "The History of the Life of Father Francis Xavier, and of what was done in the Indies by the Religious of the Society of Jesus." He informs us, that he had in his hands the authentic copies of the informations which were made by order of John III. king of Portugal, concerning the actions of the blessed Father Xavier, and the originals of many letters, written from the Indies on that subject, which are to this day deposited in the archives of the university of Coimbra. As for Bartoli, who is so famous by his writings, and who is accounted amongst the best of the Italian authors, he has extracted from the archives of the Casa Professa at Rome, and from the acts of the canonization, what he relates of our saint in the first part of the History of the Society, intitled, Asia.
Though these two historians have in some sort collected all that can be said concerning St Francis Xavier, I omitted not to take a view of what others have written on that subject; and chiefly the book of Nieremberg, which bears for title, "Claros Varones, or Illustrious Men;" the History of India, by Maffeus, and that of Jarrio; the Church History of Japan, by Solia; the Castilian History of the Missions, which the Fathers of the Society have made to the East Indies, and the kingdoms of China and Japan, composed by Lewis de Gusman; and, lastly, the Portuguese History of the Travels of Ferdinand Mendez Pinto.
But seeing St Francis Xavier himself has written some parts of those accidents which have befallen him in India and Japan, I have faithfully copied his letters, and from thence have drawn those particulars which have much conduced to my information, and clearing of the truth. These letters have also furnished me with materials to make the narration appear more lively and moving, when you hear the saint himself speaking in his proper words, and mixing his own thoughts and reflections with his actions. I had almost finished this my work, when I received from Spain and Italy two other lives of St Francis Xavier, which before that time I had not seen: the one very new, which was written in Italian by Father Joseph Massei; the other more ancient, written in Spanish by Father Francis Garcia. I found nothing in those two books which I had not observed in others; but read them with great pleasure, as being most exactly and elegantly written, each in their several tongue.
For what remains, amongst all those historians which I have cited, there is only the author of the new Italian Life, who has not followed the common error, in relation to the age of St Francis Xavier: for the rest of them not precisely knowing the year and day of his birth, have made him ten years older than he was; placing his nativity about the time when the passage to the East Indies was discovered by Vasco de Gama.
But Father Massei has taken his measures in that particular, from Father Poussines, that judicious person to whom we are owing for the new letters of St Xavier, and who has composed a dissertation in Latin, touching the year of our apostle's birth.
He produces, in the said treatise, a Latin paper, written in all appearance in the year 1585, and found in the records of the house of Don Juan Antonio, Count of Xavier. That paper,—wherein is treated of the ancestors and birth of the saint, and which very probably, as Poussines judges, is the minute of a letter sent to Rome, where Dr Navara then resided, to whom it refers you,—that paper, I say, has these words in it: Non scitur certo annus quo natus est P. Franciscus Xaverius. Vulgo tamen invaluit, a quibusdam natum cum dici anno millesimo quadragintesimo nonagesimo-sexto: which is to say, the year is not certainly known, in which Father Francis Xavier was born; but it is generally held, that some have reported he was born in the year 1496.
But it is to be observed, that these words, Non scitur certo annus quo natus est P. Franciscus Xaverius, are dashed out with the stroke of a pen. There is also a line drawn over these other words, Natum eum dici millesimo, quadragintesimo, nonagesimo-sexto: and this is written over head, Natus est P. Franciscus Xaverius anno millesimo quingentesimo sexto. Father Francis Xavier was born in the year 1506. There is also written in the margin, Natus est die 7 Aprilis, anni 1506. He was born on the 7th of April, 1506.
That which renders this testimony more authentic, is, that at the bottom of the letter, these words, in Spanish, are written by the same hand which corrected those two passages of which I spoke: Hallo se la razon del tiempo que el S. P. Francisco Xavier nacio, en un libro manual de su hermano el Capitan Juan de Azpilcueta: la qual saco de un libro, de su padre Don Juan Jasso; viz. "The time when the blessed Father Francis Xavier was born, is found in the journal of his brother Don Juan de Azpilcueta, who extracted it from the journal or manual of his father Don Juan Jasso." 'Tis on this foundation, that, before I had read the Life written by Father Massei, I had already closed with the opinion of Father Poussines.
As to the precise day of the father's death, I have followed the common opinion, which I take to be the most probable, in conformity to the bull of his canonization. For the historians who have mentioned it, agree not with each other, on what clay he died. 'Tis said in Herbert's Travels to the Indies and Persia, translated out of the English, "St Francis Xavier, the Jesuit of Navarre, died the 4th of December, 1552." Ferdinand Mendez Pinto, the Portuguese, affirms, that he died at midnight, on Saturday the 2d of December, the same year. A manuscript letter, pretended to be written by Anthony de Sainte Foy, companion to Xavier for the voyage of China, the truth of which I suspect, relates, that the Saint died on a Sunday night at two of the clock, on the 2d of December, 1552. Now 'tis most certain, that in the year 1552, the 2d of December fell on a Friday; so that it is a manifest mistake to say, that St Xavier died that year either on Saturday or Sunday the 2d of December.
I should apprehend, lest a life so extraordinary as this might somewhat shock the profaner sort of men, if the reputation of St Francis Xavier were not well established in the world, and that the wonderful things he did had not all the marks of true miracles. As the author who made the collection of them has well observed, the mission of the saint gives them an authority, even in our first conceptions of them: for being sent from God for the conversion of infidels, it was necessary that the faith should be planted in the East, by the same means as it had been through all the world, in the beginning of the church.
Besides which, never any miracles have been examined with greater care, or more judicially than these. They were not miracles wrought in private, and which we are only to believe on the attestation of two or three interested persons, such who might have been surprised into an opinion of them; they were ordinarily public matters of fact, avowed by a whole city or kingdom, and which had for witnesses the body of a nation, for the most part Heathen, or Mahometan. Many of these miracles have been of long continuance; and it was an easy matter for such who were incredulous, to satisfy their doubts concerning them. All of them have been attended by such consequences as have confirmed their truth, beyond dispute: such as were—the conversions of kingdoms, and of kings, who were the greatest enemies to Christianity; the wonderful ardency of those new Christians, and the heroical constancy of their martyrs. But after all, nothing can give a greater confirmation of the saint's miracles, than his saint-like life; which was even more wonderful than the miracles themselves. It was in a manner of necessity, that a man of so holy a conversation should work those things, which other men could not perform; and that, resigning himself to God, with an entire confidence and trust, in the most dangerous occasions, God should consign over to him some part of his omnipotence, for the benefit of souls.
THE LIFE OF ST FRANCIS XAVIER.
His birth. His natural endowments, and first studies. His father purposes to recal him from his studies, and is diverted from that resolution. He continues his studies, and sets up a philosophy lecture. He is preserved from falling into heresy. His change of life. His retirement, and total conversion. He consecrates himself to God, by a vow. What happened to him in his journey to Venice. What he did at Venice. He goes to Rome, and from thence returns to Venice. He prepares himself to celebrate his first mass. He celebrates his first mass, and falls sick after it. St Jerome appears to him. He goes to Bolognia, and labours there with great success. He relapses into his sickness, and yet continues preaching. He is recalled to Rome by Father Ignatius, and labours there with great success. The occasion of the mission into the Indies. He is named for the mission of the Indies. God mysteriously reveals to him his intended mission to the Indies. He takes his leave of the Pope, and what his Holiness said to him. He departs from Rome. How he employed himself during his journey. His letter to Ignatius. Some remarkable accidents in his journey to Lisbon. He passes by the castle of Xavier without going to it. He arrives at Lisbon, and cures Rodriguez immediately after his coming. He is called to court. The manner of his life at Lisbon. He refuses to visit his uncle, the Duke of Navarre. The fruit of his evangelical labours. The reputation he acquired at Lisbon. They would retain him in Portugal. He is permitted to go to the Indies, and the king discourses with him before his departure. He refuses the provisions offered him for his voyage. He goes for the Indies, and what he said to Rodriguez at parting.
I have undertaken to write the life of a saint, who has renewed, in the last age, the greatest wonders which were wrought in the infancy of the church; and who was himself a living proof of Christianity. There will be seen in the actions of one single man, a new world converted by the power of his preaching, and by that of his miracles: idolatrous kings, with their dominions, reduced under the obedience of the gospel; the faith flourishing in the very midst of barbarism; and the authority of the Roman church acknowledged by nations the most remote, who were utterly unacquainted with ancient Rome.
This apostolical man, of whom I speak, is St Francis Xavier, of the society of Jesus, and one of the first disciples of St Ignatius Loyola. He was of Navarre; and, according to the testimony of Cardinal Antonia Zapata, who examined his nobility from undoubted records, he derived his pedigree from the kings of Navarre.
His father was Don Juan de Jasso, a lord of great merit, well conversant in the management of affairs, and who held one of the first places in the council of state, under the reign of King John III. The name of his mother was Mary Azpilcueta Xavier, heiress to two of the most illustrious families in that kingdom; for the chief of her house, Don Martin Azpilcueta, less famous by the great actions of his ancestors, than by his own virtue, married Juana Xavier, the only daughter and remaining hope of her family. He had by her no other child but this Mary of whom we spoke, one of the most accomplished persons of her time.
This virgin, equally beautiful and prudent, being married to Don Jasso, became the mother of many children; the youngest of whom was Francis, the same whose life I write. He was born in the castle of Xavier, on the 7th of April, in the year 1506. That castle, situated at the foot of the Pyrenean Mountains, seven or eight leagues distant from Pampeluna, had appertained to his mother's house for about two hundred and fifty years; his progenitors on her side having obtained it in gift from King Thibald, the first of that name, in recompence of those signal services which they had performed for the crown. 'Tis from thence they took the name of Xavier, in lieu of Asnarez, which was the former name of their family. This surname was conferred on Francis, as also on some of the rest of his brothers, lest so glorious a name, now remaining in one only woman, should be totally extinguished with her.
That Providence, which had selected Francis for the conversion of such multitudes of people, endued him with all the natural qualities which are requisite to the function of an apostle. He was of a strong habit of body, his complexion lively and vigorous, his genius sublime and capable of the greatest designs, his heart fearless, agreeable in his behaviour, but above all, he was of a gay, complying, and winning humour: this notwithstanding, he had a most extreme aversion for all manner of immodesty, and a vast inclination for his studies.
His parents, who lived a most Christian life, inspired him with the fear of God from his infancy, and took a particular care of his education. He was no sooner arrived to an age capable of instruction, than, instead of embracing the profession of arms, after the example of his brothers, he turned himself, of his own motion, on the side of learning; and, as he had a quick conception, a happy memory, and a penetrating mind, he advanced wonderfully in few years.
Having gained a sufficient knowledge in the Latin tongue, and discovered a great propensity to learning, he was sent to the university of Paris, the most celebrated of all Europe, and to which the gentlemen of Spain, Italy, and Germany, resorted for their studies.
He came to Paris in the eighteenth year of his age, and fell immediately on the study of philosophy. 'Tis scarcely credible with how much ardour he surmounted the first difficulties of logic. Whatsoever his inclinations were towards a knowledge so crabbed and so subtle, he tugged at it with incessant pains, to be at the head of all his fellow students; and perhaps never any scholar besides himself could join together so much ease, and so much labour.
Xavier minded nothing more, than how to become an excellent philosopher, when his father, who had a numerous family of children, and who was one of those men of quality, whose fortunes are not equal to their birth, was thinking to remove him from his studies, after having allowed him a competent maintenance for a year or two. He communicated these his thoughts to Magdalen. Jasso, his daughter, abbess of the convent of St Clare de Gandia, famous for the austerity of its rules, and established by some holy Frenchwomen of that order, whom the calamities of war had forced to forsake their native country, and to seek a sanctuary in the kingdom of Valencia.
Magdalen, in her younger days, had been maid of honour and favourite to the Catholic queen Isabella. The love of solitude, and of the cross, had caused her to forsake the court of Arragon, and quit for ever the pleasures of this world. Having chosen the most reformed monastery of Spain for the place of her retreat, she applied herself, Avith fervour, to the exercises of penitence and prayer; and became, even from her noviciate, a perfect pattern of religious perfection.
During the course of her life, she had great communications with God; and one day he gave her to understand, that she should die a sweet and easy death; but, on the contrary, one of her nuns was pre-ordained to die in strange torments. The intention of God was not thereby to reveal to the abbess what was really to happen, but rather to give her an opportunity of exercising an heroic act of charity. She comprehended what her heavenly Father exacted from her, and petitioned him for an exchange.
God granted to her what himself had inspired her to demand; and was pleased to assure her, by a new revelation, that he had heard her prayers. She made known to her ghostly father what had passed betwixt God and her, and time verified it: for the sister above mentioned died without sickness, and appeared in dying to have had a foretaste of the joys to come. On the other side, the abbess was struck with a terrible disease, which took all her body, as it were, in pieces, and made her suffer intolerable pains; yet even those pains were less cruel to her, than those inward torments which God at the same time inflicted on her. She endured all this with wonderful patience and resignation; being well assured, that in the whole series of these dispensations there was somewhat of divine.
For what remains concerning her, from the first years of her entry into a religious life, the gift of prophecy shone so visibly in her, that none doubted but that she was full of the spirit of God; and 'tis also probable, that she left a legacy of her prophetic gifts to her spiritual daughters. For, after her decease, the nuns of Gandia foretold many things, which afterward the event confirmed; as, amongst others, the unhappy success of the expedition to Algier; of which the Duke of Borgia, viceroy of Catalonia, gave the advertisement from them to Charles V. when he was making his preparations for that enterprize.
It was six years before the death of Magdalen, that Don Jasso, her father, writ to her concerning Xavier. After she had received the letter, she was illuminated from above; and, according to the dictates of that divine light, she answered Don Jasso, that he should beware of recalling her brother Francis, whatsoever it might cost him for his entertainment in the university of Paris. That he was a chosen vessel, pre-ordained to be the apostle of the Indies, and that one day he should become a great pillar of the church.
These letters have been preserved for a long time afterwards, and have been viewed by many persons, who have deposed the truth judicially in the process of the canonization of the saint.
Don Jasso received this answer from his daughter as an oracle from heaven; and no longer thought of recalling his son from his studies.
Xavier, thereupon, continued his philosophy; and succeeded so well in it, that having maintained his thesis, at the end of his course, with a general applause, and afterwards taking his degree of master of arts, he was judged worthy to teach philosophy himself. His parts appeared more than ever in this new employment; and he acquired an high reputation in his public lectures on Aristotle. The praises, which universally were given him, were extremely pleasing to his vanity. He was not a little proud to have augmented the glory of his family by the way of learning, while his brothers were continually adorning it by that of arms; and he flattered himself, that the way which he had taken, would lead him onward to somewhat of greater consequence.
But God Almighty had far other thoughts than those of Xavier; and it was not for these fading honours that the Divine Providence had conducted him to Paris.
At the same time, when this young master of philosophy began his course, Ignatius Loyola, who had renounced the world, and cast the model of a learned society, wholly devoted to the salvation of souls, came into France to finish his studies, which the obstacles he found in Spain, after his conversion, had constrained him to interrupt.
He had not continued long in the university of Paris, before he heard talk of Xavier, and grew acquainted with him. Our new professor, who taught at the college of Beauvois, though he dwelt in the college of St Barbe, with Peter le Fevre, a Savoyard, was judged by Ignatius to be very proper for the preaching of the gospel, as well as his companion. To gain the better opportunity of insinuating himself into their acquaintance, he took lodgings with them, and was not wanting to exhort them to live up to the rules of Christianity.
Le Fevre, who was of a tractable nature, and was not enamoured of the world, resigned himself without opposition. But Xavier, who was of a haughty spirit, and whose head was filled with ambitious thoughts, made a fierce resistance at the first. The discipline and maxims of Ignatius, who lived in a mean equipage, and valued nothing but that poverty, made him pass for a low-minded fellow in the opinion of our young gentleman. And accordingly Xavier treated him with much contempt; rallying him on all occasions, and making it his business to ridicule him.
This notwithstanding, Ignatius omitted no opportunities of representing to him the great consequence of his eternal welfare, and urging the words of our blessed Saviour, "What profit is it to a man to gain the whole world, and to lose his own, soul?" but perceiving that he could make no impression on a heart where self-conceit was so very prevalent, and which was dazzled with vain-glory, he bethought, himself of assaulting him on the weaker side.
When he had often congratulated with him for those rare talents of nature with which he was endowed, and particularly applauded his great wit, he made it his business to procure him scholars, and to augment his reputation by the crowd of his auditors. He conducted them even to his chair; and in presenting them to their master, never failed to make his panegyric.
Xavier was too vain, not to receive, with a greedy satisfaction, whatever incense was given him of that kind: applause was welcome from whatever hands it came; and withal he was too grateful, not to acknowledge those good offices which were done him, by a person whom he had used so very ill: he was the more sensible of such a kindness, by being conscious to himself how little he had deserved it. He began to look with other eyes on him who had the appearance of so mean a creature; and at the same time was informed, that this man, of so despicable a presence, was born of one of the noblest families in Guypuscoa; that his courage was correspondent to his birth; and that only the fear of God had inspired him with the choice of such a life, so distant from his inclination, and his quality.
These considerations, in favour of Ignatius, led him to hearken, without repugnance, to those discourses which were so little suitable to his natural bent; as if the quality and virtue of him who made them, had given a new charm and weight to what he said.
While things were passing in this manner, Xavier's money began to fail him, as it frequently happens to foreigners, who are at a great distance from their own country; and Ignatius, who was newly returned from the voyages which he had made into Flanders and England, from whence he had brought back a large contribution of alms, assisted him in so pressing an occasion, and thereby made an absolute conquest of his affections.
The heresy of Luther began to spread itself in Europe: and it was an artifice of those sectaries, to procure proselytes in the Catholic universities, who, by little and little, might insinuate their new opinions into the scholars, and their masters. Many knowing men of Germany were come on that design to Paris, though under the pretence of seconding the intentions of Francis the First, who was desirous to restore learning in his kingdom. They scattered their errors in so dexterous a manner, that they made them plausible; and principally endeavoured to fasten on young scholars, who had the greatest reputation of wit. Xavier, who was naturally curious, took pleasure in these novelties, and had run into them of his own accord, if Ignatius had not withdrawn him. He gave an account of this very thing not long afterwards in a letter to his elder brother, Don Azpilcueta, of which Ignatius himself was the bearer; who made a voyage into Spain, for those reasons which I have set down in another place. And these are his words, which well deserve to be related.
"He has not only relieved me, by himself, and by his friends, in those necessities to which I was reduced; but, which is of more importance, he has withdrawn me from those occasions which I had to contract a friendship with young men of my own standing, persons of great wit, and well accomplished, who had sucked in the poison of heresy, and who hid the corruptions of their heart under a fair and pleasing outside. He alone has broken off that dangerous commerce in which my own imprudence had engaged me; and has hindered me from following the bent of my easy nature, by discovering to me the snares which were laid for me. If Don Ignatius had given me no other proof of his kindness, I know not how I could be able to return it, by any acknowledgments I could make: for, in short, without his assistance, I could not have defended myself from those young men, so fair in their outward carriage, and so corrupt in the bottom of their hearts."
We may conclude, from this authentic testimony, that Xavier, far from carrying the faith to the remotest nations of idolaters, was in danger to make shipwreck of his own; had he not fallen into the hands of such a friend as was Ignatius, who detested even the least appearance of heresy, and whose sight was sharp enough to discover heretics, how speciously soever they were disguised.
It was not sufficient to have only preserved Xavier from error, but it was farther necessary to wean him altogether from the world: these favourable dispositions which appeared in him, encouraged Ignatius to pursue his design, and gave him hope of a fortunate success. Having one day found Xavier more than ordinarily attentive, he repeated to him these words more forcibly than ever: "What will it profit a man to gain the whole world, and to lose his own soul?" After which he told him, that a mind so noble and so great as his, ought not to confine itself to the vain honours of this world; that celestial glory was the only lawful object of his ambition; and that right reason would require him to prefer that which was eternally to last, before what would vanish like a dream.
Then it was that Xavier began to see into the emptiness of earthly greatness, and found himself touched with the love of heavenly things. But these first impressions of grace had not all their effect immediately: he made frequent reflections within himself, of what the man of God had said to him; and it was not without many serious thoughts, and after many a hard struggling, that, being overcome at length by the power of those eternal truths, he took up a solid resolution, of living according to the maxims of the gospel, and of treading in his footsteps, who had made him sensible of his being gone astray.
He resigned himself therefore to the conduct of Ignatius, after the example of Le Fevre, who had already reformed his life, and was inflamed with the zeal of edifying others. The directions of a guide so well enlightened, made easy to Xavier the paths of that perfection which were hitherto unknown to him. He learnt from his new master, that the first step which a sincere convert is to make, is to labour in the subduing of his darling passion. As vainglory had the greatest dominion over him, his main endeavours, from the very beginning, were to humble himself, and to confound his own pride in the sense of his emptiness, and of his sins. But well knowing that he could not tame the haughtiness of the soul without mortifying the flesh, he undertook the conquest of his body, by haircloth, by fasting, and other austerities of penance.
When his time of vacancies was come, he performed his spiritual exercises, which his lectures of philosophy had till then hindered. Those very exercises I mean, which Ignatius, inspired of God, had composed at Manreze; and of which I have drawn the model, in the life of that holy founder of the society of Jesus.
He began his retirement with an extraordinary fervour, even to the passing of four days entire without taking any nourishment. His contemplations were wholly busied, day and night, on divine matters. And an ancient memorial assures us, that he went to his devotions with his hands and feet tied; either to signify, that he was desirous to do nothing, but by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, or to give himself the same usage which was given to the man in the parable of the gospel; "who dared to appear in the wedding-room, without cloathing himself in wedding-garments."
By meditating at his leisure on the great truths of Christianity, and especially on the mysteries of our Saviour, according to the method of Ignatius, he was wholly changed into another man; and the humility of the cross appeared to him more amiable than all the glories of the world. These new insights caused him, without the least repugnance, to refuse a canonry of Pampeluna, which was offered him at that time, and was very considerable, both in regard of the profits and of the dignity. He formed also, during his solitude, the design of glorifying God by all possible means, and of employing his whole life for the salvation of souls.
On these foundations, having finished the course of philosophy which he read, and which had lasted three years and a half, according to the custom of those times, he studied in divinity, by the counsel of Ignatius, whose scholar he openly declared himself to be.
In the mean time, Ignatius, who found in himself an inward call to the Holy-Land, for the conversion of Jews and Infidels, discovered his intentions to Xavier, which he had already communicated to Le Fevre, and four other learned young men, who had embraced his form of life.
All the seven engaged themselves, by promise to each other, and by solemn vows to God Almighty, to forsake their worldly goods, and undertake a voyage to Jerusalem; or in case that, in the compass of a year, they could not find an accommodation of passing the seas, that they would cast themselves at the feet of our holy Father, for the service of the church, into whatever part of the world he would please to send them.
They made these vows at Montmartre, on the day of our Lady's assumption, in the year 1534. That holy place, which has been watered with the blood of martyrs, and where their bodies are still deposited, inspired a particular devotion into Xavier, and possessed him with a fervent desire of martyrdom.
Towards the end of the year following, he went from Paris, in the company of Le Fevre, Laynez, Salmeron, Rodriguez, Bobadilla, and three other divines, whom Le Fevre had gained in the absence of Ignatius, who, for important reasons, was obliged to go before, and who was waiting for them at Venice.
Somewhat before their departure, Xavier, who was sometimes too far transported by the fervency of his soul, had tied his arms and thighs with little cords, to mortify himself, for some kind of vain satisfaction which he took in out-running and over-leaping his young companions; for he was very active; and, amongst all the recreations used by scholars, he liked none but the exercises of the body.
Though the cords were very straight about him, yet he imagined they would not hinder him from travelling on foot. But he had scarcely begun his journey, when he was taken with extreme pains. He bore them as well as he was able; and dissembled them, till his strength failed him. His motion had swelled his thighs, and indented the cords so deep into his flesh, that they were hardly visible; insomuch that the chirurgeons, to whom his fellows discovered them, plainly said, that any incisions which could be made, would serve only to increase his pains, and that the ill was incurable.
In this dangerous conjuncture, Le Fevre, Laynez, and the rest, had recourse to Almighty God, and not in vain. Xavier waking the next morning, found the cords fallen down, the swelling wholly taken away from his thighs, and the marks of the cords only remaining on his flesh. They joined in actions of thanksgiving to the Almighty, for his providential care already shewn in their behalf; and though the ways were very rugged, in the inclemency of that season, yet they cheerfully pursued their journey.
Xavier was serviceable to his companions on all occasions, and was always beforehand with them in the duties of charity; whether it were, that, being naturally officious, and of a warm temper, he was more eager to employ himself for them; or that his health, miraculously restored, rendered him more obliging and charitable towards those by whose prayers it was recovered.
When they were arrived at Venice, their breathings were only after the holy places. Ignatius, whom they were ravished to see again, and whom they acknowledged for their common father, was of opinion, that while they were waiting the opportunity of going to receive the Pope's blessing for their voyage to Jerusalem, each of them should employ himself on works of charity, in the hospitals of the town.
Xavier, whose lot fell in the hospital of the incurable, was not satisfied only with busying himself all day, in dressing sick men's sores, in making their beds, and doing them more inferior service, but also passed whole nights in watching by them. But his care and pains were not confined to the succour of their bodies. Though he was wholly ignorant of the Italian tongue, he frequently spoke of God to them; and, above all things, exhorted the greatest libertines to repentance, by causing them to comprehend, in the best manner he was able, that though their corporal maladies were incurable, yet the diseases of their souls were not so; that how enormous soever our offences were, we ought always to rely on God's mercy; and that a desire of being sincerely converted, was only requisite in sinners for obtaining the grace of their conversion.
One of these sick alms-men had an ulcer, which was horrible to the sight, but the noisomeness of the stench was yet more insupportable; every one shunned the miserable creature, not enduring so much as to approach him; and Xavier once found a great repugnance in himself to attend him: but at the same time, he called to his remembrance a maxim of Ignatius, that we make no progress in virtue, but by vanquishing ourselves; and that the occasion of making a great sacrifice, was too precious to be lost. Being fortified with these thoughts, and encouraged by the example of St Catharine de Sienna, which came into his mind, he embraced the sick person, applied his mouth to the ulcer, surmounted his natural loathing, and sucked out the corruption. At the same moment his repugnance vanished; and after that, he had no farther trouble in the like cases: of so great importance it is to us, once to have thoroughly overcome ourselves.
Two months were passed away in these exercises of charity. After which he set forward on his journey to Rome with the other disciples of Ignatius, who himself stayed behind alone at Venice. They underwent great hardships in their way. It rained continually, and bread was often wanting to them, even when their strength was wasted. Xavier encouraged his companions, and sustained himself by that apostolic spirit with which God replenished him from that time forwards, and which already made him in love with pain and sufferings.
Being arrived at Rome, his first care was to visit the churches, and to consecrate himself to the ministry of the gospel, upon the sepulchre of the holy apostles. He had the opportunity of speaking more than once before the Pope: for the whole company of them being introduced into the Vatican, by Pedro Ortiz, that Spanish doctor whom they had formerly known at Paris, and whom the emperor had sent to Rome for the affair concerning the marriage of Catharine of Arragon, queen of England, Paul the Third, who was a lover of learning, and who was pleased to be entertained at his table with the conversation of learned men, commanded that these strangers, whose capacity he had heard so extremely praised, should be admitted to see him for many days successively; and that in his presence they should discourse concerning divers points of school-divinity.
Having received the benediction of our holy father for their voyage to the Holy Land, and obtained the permission for those amongst them who were not in sacred orders, to receive them, they returned to Venice. Xavier there made his vows of poverty and perpetual chastity, together with the rest, in the hands of Jeronimo Veralli, the Pope's nuncio; and having again taken up his post in the hospital of the incurable, he resumed his offices of charity, which his journey to Rome had constrained him to interrupt, and continued in those exercises till the time of his embarkment.
In the mean time, the war which was already kindled betwixt the Venetians and the Turk, had broken the commerce of the Levant, and stopt the passage to the Holy Land; insomuch, that the ship of the pilgrims of Jerusalem went not out that year, according to the former custom.
This disappointment wonderfully afflicted Xavier; and the more, because he not only lost the hope of seeing those places which had been consecrated by the presence and the blood of Jesus Christ, but was also bereft of an occasion of dying for his divine Master. Yet he comforted himself in reflecting on the method of God's providence; and at the same time, not to be wanting in his duty to his neighbour, he disposed himself to receive the orders of priesthood, and did receive them with those considerations of awful dread, and holy confusion, which are not easy to be expressed.
The town appeared to him an improper place for his preparation, in order to his first mass. He sought out a solitary place, where, being separated from the communication of man, he might enjoy the privacies of God. He found this convenience of a retirement near Monteselice, not far from Padua: it was a miserable thatched cottage, forsaken of inhabitants, and out of all manner of repair. Thus accommodated, he passed forty days, exposed to the injuries of the air, lying on the cold hard ground, rigidly disciplining his body, fasting all the day, and sustaining nature only with a little pittance of bread, which he begged about the neighbourhood; but tasting all the while the sweets of paradise, in contemplating the eternal truths of faith. As his cabin did not unfitly represent to him the stable of Bethlehem, so he proposed to himself frequently the extreme poverty of the infant Jesus, as the pattern of his own; and said within himself, that, since the Saviour of mankind had chosen to be in want of all things, they who laboured after him for the salvation of souls, were obliged, by his example, to possess nothing in this world.
How pleasing soever this loneliness were to him, yet, his forty days being now expired, he left it, to instruct the villages and neighbour-towns, and principally Monteselice, where the people were grossly ignorant, and knew little of the duties of Christianity.
The servant of God made daily exhortations to them, and his penitent aspect gave authority to all his words; insomuch, that only looking on his face, none could doubt but he was come from the wilderness to instruct them in the way to heaven. He employed himself during the space of two or three months in that manner: for, though there was no appearance that any vessel should set sail for the Holy Land, yet Ignatius and his disciples, who had obliged themselves to wait one year in expectation of any such opportunity, would not depart from the territories of the republic till it was totally expired, that they might have nothing to upbraid themselves, in relation to the vow which they had made.
Xavier being thus disposed, both by his retirement, and his exterior employments, at length said his first mass at Vicenza; to which place Ignatius had caused all his company to resort; and he said it with tears flowing in such abundance, that his audience could not refrain from mixing their own with his.
His austere, laborious life, joined with so sensible a devotion, which often makes too great an impression on the body, so much impaired the strength of his constitution, that he fell sick, not long after his first mass. He was carried into one of the own hospitals, which was so crowded, and so poor, that Xavier had in it but the one half of a wretched bed, and that too in a chamber which was open on every side. His victuals were no better than his lodging, and never was sick man more destitute of human succours. But, in requital, heaven was not wanting to him.
He was wonderfully devoted to St Jerome; and had often had recourse to that blessed doctor of the church for the understanding of difficult places in the scripture. The saint appeared to him one night, refulgent in his beams of glory, and gave him consolation in his sickness; yet, at the same time, declaring to him, that a far greater affliction than the present was waiting for him at Bolognia, where himself and one of his companions were to pass the winter; that some of them should go to Padua, some to Rome, others to Ferrara, and the remainder of them to Sienna.
This apparition fortified Xavier so much, that he recovered suddenly; yet whether he had some doubts concerning it, or was of opinion that he ought to keep it secret, he said nothing of it at that time. But that which then happened to him made it evident, that the vision was of God: for Ignatius, who was ignorant of what had been revealed to Xavier, having assembled his disciples, gave them to understand, that since the gate of the Holy Land was shut against them, they ought not any longer to defer the offering of their service to the Pope; that it was sufficient if some of them went to Rome, while the rest of them dispersed themselves in the universities of Italy, to the end, they might inspire the fear of God into the scholars, and gather up into their number some young students of the greatest parts. Ignatius appointed them their several stations, just as they had been foreshewn by St Jerome; and that of Bolognia fell to the share of Xavier and Bobadilla.
After their arrival at Bolognia, Xavier went to say a mass at the tomb of St Dominic; for he had a particular veneration for the founder of that order, whose institution was for the preaching of the gospel.
A devout virgin, whose name was Isabella Casalini, seeing him at the altar, judged him to be a man of God; and was led by some interior motion to speak to this stranger priest when his mass was ended. She was so much edified, and so satisfied with the discourse of Xavier, that she immediately informed her uncle, at whose house she lodged, of this treasure which she had discovered.
Jerome Casalini, who was a very considerable clergyman, both in regard of his noble blood, and of his virtue, went in search of this Spanish priest, upon the account which was given of him by his niece; and, having found him at the hospital, he importuned him so much to take a lodging in his house, that Xavier could not in civility refuse him. But the holy man would never accept of his table, of whose house he had accepted. He begged his bread from door to door according to his usual custom; and lived on nothing but the alms which was given him in the town.
Every day, after having celebrated the divine mysteries in St Lucy's church, of which Casalini was curate, he there heard the confessions of such as presented themselves before him: after which he visited the prisons and the hospitals, catechised the children, and preached to the people.
'Tis true, he spoke but very ill; and his language was only a kind of Lingua Franca, a confused medley of Italian, French, and Spanish: but he pronounced it with so much vehemence, and the matter of his sermons was so solid, that his ill accent and his improper phrases were past by. His audience attended to him, as to a man descended from above, and his sermon being ended, came to cast themselves at his feet, and make confession.
These continual labours, during a very sharp winter, threw him into a relapse of sickness, much more dangerous than the former; as it were to verify the prediction of St Jerome; for he was seized with a quartan ague, which was both malignant and obstinate; insomuch that it cast him into an extreme faintness, and made him as meagre as a skeleton. In the mean time, lean and languishing as he was, he ceased not to crawl to the public places, and excite passengers to repentance. When his voice failed him, his wan and mortified face, the very picture of death, seemed to speak for him, and his presence alone had admirable effects.
Jerome Casalini profited so well by the instructions and example of the holy man, that he arrived in a short space to a high degree of holiness: the greater knowledge he had of him, he the more admired him, as he himself related. And it is from this virtuous churchman chiefly, that we have this account of Xavier, that having laboured all the day, he passed the night in prayer; that on Friday saying the mass of the passion, he melted into tears, and was often ravished in his soul; that he spoke but seldom, but that all his words were full of sound reason, and heavenly grace.
While Xavier was thus employing his labours at Bolognia, he was recalled to Rome by Father Ignatius; who had already presented himself before the Pope, and offered him the service both of himself and his companions. Pope Paul the Third accepted the good will of these new labourers; enjoining them to begin their work in Rome, and preach under the authority of the Holy See. The principal churches were assigned them; and that of St Laurence in Damaso was allotted to Xavier.
Being now freed from his quartan ague, and his strength being again restored, he preached with more vigour and vehemence than ever.
Death, the last judgment, and the pains of hell, were the common subject of his sermons. He proposed those terrible truths after a plain manner, but withal so movingly, that the people, who came in crowds to hear him preach, departed out of the church in a profound silence; and thought less of giving praises to the preacher, than of converting their own souls to God.
The famine, which laid waste the city of Rome at that time, gave opportunity to the ten stranger-priests, to relieve an infinite number of miserable people, oppressed with want, and unregarded. Xavier was ardent above the rest, to find them places of accommodation, and to procure alms for their subsistence. He bore them even upon his shoulders to the places which were provided for them, and attended them with all imaginable care.
In the mean time, James Govea, a Portuguese, who had been acquainted with Ignatius, Xavier, and Le Fevre, at Paris, and who was principal of the college of Saint Barbe, when they lived together there, being come to Rome on some in portant business, for which he was sent thither by John III. King of Portugal, and seeing the wonderful effects of their ministry, wrote to the king, as he had formerly done from Paris, on the reports which were spread of them, that such men as these, knowing, humble, charitable, inflamed with zeal, indefatigable in labour, lovers of the cross, and who aimed at nothing but the honour of Almighty God, were fit to be employed in the East-Indies, to plant and propagate the faith. He adjoined, that if his majesty were desirous of these excellent men, he had only to ask them from the Pope, who had the absolute disposition of them.
John III., the most religious prince then living, wrote thereupon to his ambassador, Don Pedro Mascaregnas, and ordered him to obtain from his Holiness, six at least of those apostolic men, which had been commended to him by Govea. The Pope having heard the proposition of Mascaregnas, remitted the whole business to Father Ignatius, for whom he had already a great consideration, and who had lately presented to his Holiness the model of the new order, which he and his companions were desirous to establish.
Ignatius, who had proposed to himself no less a design than the reformation of the whole world, and who saw the urgent necessities of Europe, infected with heresy on every side, returned this answer to Mascaregnas, that often, which was their whole number, he could spare him at the most but two persons. The Pope approved this answer, and ordered Ignatius to make the choice himself. Thereupon Ignatius named Simon Rodriguez, a Portuguese, and Nicholas Bobadilla, a Spaniard. The first of these was, at that time, employed at Sienna, and the other in the kingdom of Naples, as they had been commissioned by the Holy Father. Though Rodriguez was languishing under a quartan ague, when he was recalled from Sienna, yet he failed not to obey the summons; and shortly after embarking on a ship of Lisbon which went off from Civita Vecchia, carried with him Paul de Camerin, who, some months before, had joined himself to their society.
As for Bobadilla, he was no sooner come to Rome, than he fell sick of a continued fever; and it may be said, that his distemper was the hand of heaven, which had ordained another in his stead for the mission of the Indies. For sometimes that which appears but chance, or a purely natural effect in the lives of men, is a disposition of the Divine Providence which moves by secret ways to its own proposed ends; and is pleased to execute those designs, by means as easy as they are powerful.
Mascaregnas, who had finished his embassy, and was desirous to carry with him into Portugal the second missioner who had been promised him, was within a day of his departure, when Bobadilla arrived. Ignatius seeing him in no condition to undertake a voyage, applied himself to God for his direction, in the choice of one to fill his place, or rather to make choice of him whom God had chosen; for he was immediately enlightened from above, and made to understand, that Xavier was that vessel of election. He called for him at the same instant, and being filled with the Divine Spirit, "Xavier," said he, "I had named Bobadilla for the Indies, but the Almighty has nominated you this day. I declare it to you from the vicar of Jesus Christ. Receive an employment committed to your charge by his Holiness, and delivered by my mouth, as if it were conferred on you by our blessed Saviour in person. And rejoice for your finding an opportunity, to satisfy that fervent desire, which we all have, of carrying the faith into remote countries. You have not here a narrow Palestine, or a province of Asia, in prospect, but a vast extent of ground, and innumerable kingdoms. An entire world is reserved for your endeavours, and nothing but so large a field is worthy of your courage and your zeal. Go, my brother, where the voice of God has called you; where the Holy See has sent you, and kindle those unknown nations, with the flame that burns within you."
Xavier, wholly confounded in himself with these expressions of Ignatius, with tears of a tender affection in his eyes, and blushing in his countenance, answered him, that he could not but be astonished, that he should pitch upon a man, so weak, and pusillanimous as himself, for an enterprize which required no less than an apostle: that nevertheless he was ready to obey the commands of heaven; and that he offered himself, with the whole power of his soul, to do and suffer all things for the salvation of the Indies. After which, giving leave to his internal joy to break out, and to diffuse itself, he more confidently said to Father Ignatius, that his desires were now accomplished; that for a long time he had sighed after the Indies without daring to declare it; and that he hoped, from those idolatrous nations, to have the honour of dying for Jesus Christ, which had been denied him in the Holy Land.
He added, in the height of these transports, that at length he saw that clearly, of which God had often given him a glimpse, under some mysterious figures. In effect, Xavier had frequently dreamed by night, that he carried on his shoulders a gigantic and very swarthy Indian; and opprest with this strong imagination, he groaned and sighed, in that uneasy slumber, as one out of breath, and labouring under an intolerable burden; insomuch that the noise of his groans and heavings waked those who were lodged in the same chamber; and, one night it happening that Father Laynez being awakened by it, asked him what it was that troubled him: Xavier immediately told his dream, and added, that it put him into a sweat, with big drops over all his body.
Besides this, he once beheld, either in a dream, or in a trance, vast oceans full of tempests and of rocks, desart islands, barbarous countries, hunger and thirst raging every where, nakedness, multiplicity of labours, with bloody persecution, and imminent dangers of death and of destruction. In the midst of this ghastly apparition, he cried aloud, "yet more, O my God, yet more!" and Father Simon Rodriguez heard these words distinctly; but however he importuned him to declare their meaning, he would discover nothing at that time, till embarking for the Indies, he revealed the mystery.
Such ideas, always present in his imagination, filled his familiar discourses with notions of a new world, and the conversion of infidels. While he was speaking on that subject, his face was on a fire, and the tears came into his eyes. This was testified of him by Father Jerome Dominic, who, before he entered into the Society, had conversed with him at Bolognia, where a strict friendship was made betwixt them.
As Xavier was advertised of this voyage to the Indies but the day before Mascaregnas departed, he had but time enough to piece up his cassock, bid his friends farewell, and go to kiss the feet of our Holy Father.
Paul III., overjoyed, that under his pontificate a gate should be opened to the gospel, in the Oriental Indies, received him with a most fatherly affection, and excited him to assume such thoughts, as were worthy of so high an undertaking; telling him for his encouragement, that the Eternal Wisdom is never failing to supply us with strength, to prosecute the labours to which it has ordained us, even though they should surpass all human abilities. He must, indeed, prepare himself for many sufferings; but the affairs of God succeeded not but by the ways of suffering, and that none could pretend to the honour of an apostleship, but by treading in the steps of the apostles, whose lives were but one continual cross, and a daily death; that heaven had employed him in the mission of St Thomas, the apostle of the Indies, for the conquest of souls; that it became him to labour generously, in reviving the faith in those countries, where it had been planted by that great apostle; and that if it were necessary for him to shed his blood, for the glory of Christ Jesus, he should account it his happiness to die a martyr.
It seemed that God himself had spoken by the mouth of his vicegerent, such impression had these words on the mind and heart of Xavier. They inspired into him a divine vigour; and in his answer to his Holiness, there shone through a profound humility such a magnanimity of soul, that Paul III. had from that very minute a certain presage of those wonderful events which afterwards arrived. Therefore the most Holy Father, having wished him the special assistance of God in all his labours, tenderly embraced him, more than once, and gave him a most ample benediction.
Xavier departed in the company of Mascaregnas the 15th of March, in the year 1540, without any other equipage besides his breviary. In giving his last adieu to Father Ignatius, he cast himself at his feet, and with all humility desired his blessing; and, in taking leave of Laynez, he put into his hands a small memorial, which he had written, and signed.
This memorial, which is still preserved at Rome, contains, that he approves, as much as depends on him, the rules and constitutions, which shall be drawn up, by Ignatius and his companions; that he elects Ignatius to be their general, and, in failure of him, Le Fevre; that he consecrates himself to God, by the three vows, of poverty, chastity, and obedience, in the Society of Jesus, when it shall be raised into a religious order, by the apostolical authority.
The conclusion of that affair was daily expected; and indeed it was happily finished, before the ending of the year, in that almost miraculous manner, as is related in the Life of St Ignatius.
His journey from Rome to Lisbon was all the way by land, and was above three months. Xavier had a horse allowed him, by order from the ambassador; but they were no sooner on their way, than he made him common. The Father often alighted to ease the servants who followed on foot; or exchanged his horse with others, who were not so well mounted. At the inns he was every man's servant, even to the rubbing of the horses, by an excess of humility, which, on those occasions, caused him to forget the dignity of his character. He resigned his chamber and his bed to those who wanted them; and never lodged but either on the ground, or on the litter in the stable. In the rest of his actions, ever cheerful, and pleasant in discourse, which made all men desirous of his company; but always mixing somewhat with that gaiety, which was edifying both to the masters and the servants, and inspired them alike with thoughts of piety.
They went by Loretto, where they rested at the least eight days; after which they continued their journey by Bolognia. From thence, Xavier wrote to Ignatius, in this manner:
"I received, on the holiday of Easter, the letter which you wrote and inclosed in the packet of my lord ambassador. God only knows my joy in receiving it. Believing, as I do, that we shall never entertain each other in this world, by any other way than that of writing, and that we shall never see each other but in heaven, it concerns us, that little time we have to live in this place of exile, to give ourselves the mutual consolation of frequent letters. The correspondence, on my part, shall be exactly kept; for being convinced, by the reasons which you gave me at our parting, that a commerce of this nature ought to be established, in a regular method, betwixt the colonies and the mother country, I have resolved, that in whatever parts of the world I shall reside, or any members of our Society with me, to maintain a strict communication with you, and with the fathers at Rome, and send you as large an account, as possibly I can, of any news concerning us. I have taken my opportunity of seeing the Cardinal of Invrea, as you gave me in command, and have discoursed at leisure with him. He received me with much goodness, and offered me, with great civility, his interest, for our common cause. In the midst of the discourse, which we had together, I threw myself at his feet, and kissed his hand, in the name of all our Society. As much as I can gather by his words, he extremely approves the manner of our living.
"As concerning my lord ambassador, he loads me with so many favours, that I should never conclude, if I began to relate them. And I know not how I could suffer the many good offices he does me, if I had not some hope of repaying him in the Indies, at the expence of my life itself. On Palm-Sunday I heard his confession, and after him many of his domestic servants; I communicated them afterwards, in the holy chapel of Loretto, where I said mass. I likewise confessed them, and gave them the communion, on Easter Sunday. My lord ambassador's almoner recommends himself to your good prayers, and has promised to bear me company to the Indies. I am more taken up with confessions here, than I was in Rome, at St Lewis. I heartily salute all our fathers; and if I name not every one of them in particular, I desire them to believe, 'tis neither from my want of memory, or affection.
"Your brother and servant in Jesus Christ, FRANCIS." from Bolognia, March 31. 1540.
The whole town of Bolognia was in motion at the approach of Father Xavier: they were wonderfully affected to him, and in a manner esteemed him their apostle: both great and small were desirous of seeing him, and most of them discovered the state of their conscience to him; many of them proffered themselves to go along with him to the Indies; all of them shed tears at his departure, as thinking they should never more behold him.
Jerome Casalini, curate of St Lucy, who had lodged him the year before, was most particularly kind to him at his return: he obliged him to accept of his house once more; and his church became as it were the public rendezvous, where Xavier heard an infinite number of confessions.
In the rest of this long journey, there happened two or three passages, which were sufficiently remarkable. A domestic servant to the ambassador, who rode before as harbinger, to take up lodgings for the train, a violent and brutal man, being reprehended by his lord for having been negligent in his duty, fell into a horrible fit of passion, as soon as he was out of Mascaregnas his presence. Xavier heard him, but took no notice of it at that time, for fear of provoking him to any farther extravagance. But the next morning, when the same person set out before the company, according to his custom, he spurred after him at full speed. He found him lying under his horse, who was fallen with him from a precipice, the man sorely bruised, and the horse killed outright. "Wretched creature," said the father to him, "what had become of thee, if thou hadst died of this fall?" These few words made him sensible of his furious expressions, for which he sincerely asked pardon of Almighty God; and Xavier alighting, mounted him on his own horse, and walked on foot by him, to their lodging.
Another time, the gentleman of the horse attempting to pass a small river, which was very deep and rapid, the current carried away both man and horse, and the whole company gave him for lost. Xavier, moved with compassion for the danger of his soul, because, having had a call from heaven to enter into a religious life, he had not followed the motions of grace, but remained in the world, began to implore God in his behalf. The ambassador, who had a great kindness for him, joined in that devout action, and commanded the whole train to follow their example. They had scarcely opened their mouths for him, when the man and horse, who were both drowning, came again above water, and were carried to the bank. The gentleman was drawn out, pale in his countenance, and half dead. When he had recovered his senses, Xavier demanded of him, what thoughts he had, when he was at the point of perishing? He freely acknowledged, that the religious life, to which God had called him, then struck upon his soul; with dismal apprehensions, for having neglected the means of his salvation. He protested afterwards, as Xavier himself relates, in one of his letters, that, in that dreadful moment, the remorse of his conscience, and the sense of God's judgments on souls unfaithful to their vocation, were more terrible to him, than the horrors even of death itself. He spoke of eternal punishments, with expressions so lively and so strong, as if he had already felt them, and was returned from hell. He frequently said, (as the saint has assured us,) that, by a just judgment of eternal God, those who, during their life, made no preparations for their death, had not the leisure to think on God when death surprised them.
The ambassador, and all his people, doubted not, but the safety of this gentleman was to be ascribed to the merits of the saint: but Xavier himself believed it to be the pure effect of the ambassador's devotion; for thus he writes to father Ignatius concerning it—"Our Lord was pleased to give ear to the fervent prayers of his servant Mascaregnas, which he made with tears in his eyes, for the deliverance of the poor creature, whom he looked upon as lost; and who was taken from the jaws of death by a most evident miracle."
In passing over the Alps, the ambassador's secretary alighting to walk in a difficult way, which he could not well observe, by reason of the snows, his foot happened to slip on a sharp descent, and he rolled down into a precipice: he had tumbled to the very bottom, if, in falling, his clothes had not taken hold on one of the crags of the rock, where he remained hanging over the depths without ability, either to disengage himself, or get up again. Those who followed, made towards him, but the horror of that abyss stopt short the most daring: Xavier only made not the least demur; he descended the precipice, and lending his hand to the secretary, by little and little dragged him up.
Being gotten out of France, and having passed the Pyreneans, on the side of Navarre, when they were now approaching Pampeluna, Mascaregnas bethought himself, that Father Francis, for by that name Xavier was usually called, had not spoken one word of going to the castle of Xavier, which was but little distant from their road: he remembered him of it, and was even so importunate with him, as to say, that since he was about to leave Europe, and perhaps never more to see it, he could not in decency dispense with giving a visit to his family, and taking his last leave of his mother, who was yet living.
But all the arguments of Mascaregnas wrought no effect upon a man, who, having forsaken all things for the love of God, was of opinion, that he had nothing remaining in this world; and who also was persuaded, that flesh and blood are enemies to the apostolical spirit. He turned not out of the road, but only said to the ambassador, that he deferred the sight of his relations till he should visit them in heaven; that this transient view would be accompanied but with melancholy and sadness, the common products of a last farewell, but in heaven he should eternally behold them with pleasure, and without the least allay of sorrow.
Mascaregnas had already a high idea of Xavier's virtue; but this wonderful disengagement from the world yet more increased the esteem which he had of him; insomuch, that before they reached Portugal, he sent an express to King John III. with no other errand, than to inform him of the holiness of this second missioner to the Indies.
They arrived at Lisbon towards the end of June; and Xavier retired to the hospital of All Saints, where Rodriguez, who came by sea, had taken up his lodging. He found him much weakened with a quartan ague, which had not left him; and embraced him just at the moment when his fit was coming on him. But whether it were, that the extreme joy which Rodriguez found, so unexpectedly to see him, dissipated the humour which caused his disease, or that the embraces of Xavier had from that time an healing virtue; certain it is that the fit came not, and from thenceforward the sick man entirely recovered of that distemper.
Three or four days after, they were both called to court. The king and queen, who were in company together, received Xavier as a saint, on the report of Mascaregnas, and entertained him with all imaginable shews of kindness. They asked them diverse questions concerning their way of living; by what accident their new Society came to be formed; and what was the ground and ultimate design of it; and at last desired to be informed by them, from whence proceeded that strange persecution, which was raised in Rome against their body, which had made so great a noise over all Europe. Xavier made answer to all these demands in few words, but so very pertinently, as much satisfied both their majesties: they gave great approbation, (as himself relates in his letter from Lisbon to Ignatius,) to what he said, concerning the discipline of our houses, the quality of our ministry, and the spirit and model of our foundation.
In the midst of the conversation, the king sent for the Prince of Portugal, his son Don Juan, and the Infanta Maria, his daughter, that the two missioners might see them. And from thence his majesty took occasion of relating to them, how many children he had still living, and how many he had lost, which turned the discourse on the education of youth; and before the fathers were dismissed, the king recommended to their care, an hundred young gentlemen, who were bred at court.
Though an officer of the palace had orders to prepare an handsome lodging, with good accommodation, for Xavier and Rodriguez, they returned to their hospital, and there continued. They would not so much as receive their entertainment of diet, which was assigned them from court, but went the round of the city begging alms at their appointed hours, and lived in poverty, according to the manner of life which they had prescribed themselves.
The fleet not being to set sail till the next spring, and these apostolical persons not knowing what it was to live in idleness, Xavier was not satisfied only to instruct those young gentlemen in piety, whom the king had committed to his charge; he gave himself an employment, and did at Lisbon what he had done at Venice, Bolognia, and Rome, for the space of two years and more. But, besides that he assisted the sick in the hospital day and night, visited the prisoners every day, and catechised the children many times in the week, he often discoursed with the principal persons of the court, and engaged them in the spiritual exercises of Ignatius.
At first he preached not in the churches, judging, that the ministries of the gospel ought to begin with less public actions; and went not into the pulpit, without being first requested by the king, who one day sending for him to the palace, acquainted him with the desire he had to hear him preach; and told him, "That the Bishop of Lisbon was of opinion, that they ought not any longer to defer his public exhortations."
Father Simon Rodriguez laboured also on his part, in the service of his neighbour, according to the same method, and with the same spirit.
In the mean time, Martin d'Azpilcueta, surnamed the doctor of Navarre, who was uncle to Xavier, on the mother's side, and who was chief professor of divinity in the university of Coimbra, having heard the news of his nephew's arrival, wrote earnestly to the king, that it would please him to send Father Francis to him. He added, that in case the Father might have leave to remain with him till the departure of the fleet, he would oblige himself to make two new lectures, at his own expence, the one in canon-law, the other in mystical divinity. And farther, that in few years afterwards he would follow Xavier to the Indies, and preach the gospel in conjunction with him, to the eastern idolaters.
These letters prevailed nothing; the man, who had refused so much as to turn out of his way to see his mother, was bent against the taking of a journey, and forsaking his important business to visit one of his relations. The king retained Xavier at Lisbon, at the request of Xavier himself; and the father wrote a letter of excuse to the doctor of Navarre, who had written two to him full of tenderness and friendship. As that doct&r was unsatisfied with that kind of life, which his nephew had embraced, so Xavier resolved him, on that point, in this manner. "For what concerns our institute, of which so many reports are now raised, I have but one word, at present, to say of it. 'Tis of little consequence, illustrious doctor, to be judged by men, especially by such, who will needs be judging before they understand the matter, and know the merits of the cause."
As to his intention of going to the Indies, he desired him to think no farther of it; for thus Navarre relates that passage in his manual: "I had resolved to have ended my days in those parts, if Xavier, in consideration of my great age, had not thought me incapable of those labours which attend his mission: and if he had not written to me at his departure, that I should comfort myself for his absence, by the hope of seeing each other in the celestial kingdom."
Our two missioners laboured not in vain at Lisbon. From the very beginning of their ministry, devotion began to spread amongst the people. All men ran to the blessed sacrament, which before was never thought on but in Lent: and this holy custom diffused itself insensibly through all the towns of Portugal Many, who had deferred their conversion from time to time, now on the sudden gave themselves up to God, and even renounced the world. The most inveterate enemies were sincerely reconciled, and the most impudent harlots abandoned their prostitute way of living.
But this change of manners was most particularly apparent at the court: the king, who was truly religious, and full of goodness, was the first to declare himself against those vices which usually infect the palaces of princes. And that he might introduce a reformation by degrees, not only into his house, bat also dilate it through his whole kingdom, he obliged all the young courtiers to confess themselves once a week; for he said, "That if the lords and gentlemen would accustom themselves, from their tender years, to the service and fear of God, they would live with greater Christianity in their riper age: and if persons of quality came once to give good examples of religion, the commonalty, who form themselves according to their model, would not fail to regulate their manners; and therefore the reformation of all degrees in the kingdom consisted chiefly in the virtuous education of young noblemen."
The example of the prince and the young courtiers drew the rest; and thereupon Xavier writes to Ignatius in these terms:
"Nothing can be more regular than the court of Portugal: it resembles rather a religious society, than a secular court. The number of courtiers who come to confession, and are afterwards communicated, every eight days, is so very great, that we are in admiration of it," and are in perpetual thanksgiving for it. We are so taken up with hearing confessions, that if we were twice so many as we are, there would be employment more than enough for us. We are sitting on the confession-seat all the day long, and part of the night, though none but courtiers are permitted to come to us.
"I remember, that I observed, when the king was at Almerin, those who waited on him, from all parts of the kingdom, about their own affairs, as the custom is, were in great admiration at this new court-mode; and when they beheld the young gentlemen at the sacrament of the altar, every Sunday and holiday, with great reverence, they thought themselves in another world. But the greatest part of them imitating that which they admired, drew near to the tribunal of penance, and the holy table. Had we confessors enow to attend the crowds that come to court, no man would venture to apply himself to the king for any business, before he had been first with God, and were well with him."
The two labourers in God's harvest were so exhausted with their pains, that at length they were constrained to accept of the diet which was provided for them by the king's appointment; for they judged their time was better employed in the service of souls, than in begging their daily bread about the streets. Yet they omitted not to ask alms once or twice a-week, that they might not disuse themselves from the spirit of mortification and poverty. With these considerations, they reserved but little of what was sent them from the palace, and distributed the rest among the poor.
On the other side, the perpetual labour of confessions reduced them to preach but very seldom, for want of leisure. But, all things duly examined, they thought it of more consequence to God's service, to administer the sacrament of penance, than to preach the word; because the court of Portugal was furnished with able preachers, but was much wanting in judicious confessors; which was the very observation that Xavier made in the letter above cited.
These visible and wonderful operations caused the two missioners to be respected as men sent down from heaven, and replenished with the spirit of the Most High; insomuch that all men gave them the surname of apostles, which glorious title still remains with their successors in Portugal. The king, on all occasions, shewed them a most particular affection; and Xavier, ravished with so many expressions of his goodness to them, gives this account of it to Father Ignatius.