Saturday, October 4, 2008

Early Christians in Goa

  • 1541: Francis Xavier landed in Goa - sent there by Ignatius Loyola of Jesuit order under the direction of the King João III of Portugal. 

  • 1545: Francis Xavier comes to the following conclusions that Hindus are an "unholy race" that they are "They are liars and cheats to the very backbone.". that'St'.Xavier  who started this crime against humanity"the Indians being black themselves, consider their own color the best" and also that
    "they believe that their gods are black. On this account the great majority of their idols are as black as black can be, and moreover are generally so rubbed over with oil as to smell detestably, and seem to be as dirty as they are ugly and horrible to look at."
    He writes to Rome to install inquisition in Goa immediately. 

  • 1560: Viceroy's building modified to become the palace of inquisition with 200 cells with residence of the first inquisitor, house of secret, house of doctrine, any number of cells, and other special ones: of secret, of penitence; of perpetual confinement; of the tortures etc. Inquisition installed with powers higher than those of viceroys. 

  • Apr-2 1560: Viceroy D Constantine de Braganca orders that all Brahmins should be thrown out of Goa and other areas under Portuguese control. 
  • Feb-7 1575: Governor Antonio Morez Barreto,issues orders that the propeties of those Hindus whose "presence was prejudicial to Christianity" would be confiscated. 
  • 1585 : The Third Concilio Provincial adopts a resolution asking the king of Portugal to banish from Goa 'the Brahmins, physicians and other infidels' who the Church finds as an obstacle to convert the 'the heathens' to the 'only true faith'. 
  • Jan-31, 1620: Portuguese government orders that " Hindu, of whatever nationality or status he may be, can or shall perform marriages in this city of Goa, nor in the islands or adjacent territories of His Majesty..." 
  • 1625: Governor Francisco Barreto, issues orders that 'bar Hindus from seeking employment' in the Portuguese held Indian territory and Portuguese officials were ordered not to 'use the services of any infidel in matters of his office anyway' 

    Historian Alfredo DeMello describes the performers of Goan inquisition as
    "nefarious, fiendish, lustful, corrupt religious orders which pounced on Goa for the purpose of destroying paganism and introducing the true religion of Christ"

    The Goan inquisition is regarded by all contemporary portrayals as the most violent inquisition ever executed by the Portuguese Catholic Church. It lasted from 1560 to 1812 though in Europe it ended by 1774. (briefly restarted in 1778)
     Given below are some of the eye-witness accounts of this genocidal Holy office:

  • Eye-witness accounts of Goan inquistion:
    • "...The inquisition of Goa, distinguished itself on account of the greater rigors than those of the tribunals of the metropolis; thousands of victims died at the stake in flames.
      -Joao Felix Pereira(19th century) in Historia de Portugal, 3rd edition, page 235 

    • "..The inquisition, this tribunal of fire, thrown on the surface of the globe for the scourge of humanity, this horrible institution, which will eternally cover with shame its authors, fixed its brutal domicile in the fertile plains of the Hindustan. On seeing the monster everyone fled and disappeared, Moguls, Arabs, Persians, Armenians, and Jews. The Indians even, more tolerant and pacific, were astounded to see the God of Christianism more cruel than that of Mohammed, deserted the territory of the Portuguese..."
      -Memoirs of Judges Magalhães and Lousada: (Vol 2,Annaes Marítimos e Coloniais,page 59) 

    • "...The terrors inflicted on pregnant women made them abort....Neither the beauty or decorousness of the flower of youth, nor the old age, so worthy of compassion in a woman, exempted the weaker sex from the brutal ferocity of the supposed defenders of the religion..
      ..There were days when seven or eight were submitted to torture. These scenes were reserved for the inquisitors after dinner. It was a post-prandial entertainment. Many a time during those acts, the inquisitors compared notes in the appreciation of the beauty of the human form. While the unlucky damsel twisted in the intolerable pains of torture, or fainted in the intensity of the agony, one inquisitor applauded the angelic touches of her face, another the brightness of her eyes, another, the volluptuous contours of her breast, another the shape of her hands. In this conjuncture, men of blood transformed themselves into real artists !!
      -Alexandre Herculano Famous writer of 19th century in his Fragment about the Inquisition 

    Mechanism of Inquisition as recorded by Dellon a French Roman Catholic - 'a very mild account of inquisition':

    • The cells:
      a fetid cell, provided with a hole for relieving himself. But it overflowed, and there were faeces all over, an abominable smell, practically no light, save for slits on the wall, well above the reach of one's hands.

    • No honour even in death:
      Those who died in the jail were buried inside the building, and as they were going to be judged, the bodies were exhumed, and the bones were kept to be burnt on the next auto da fé.

    • Condemning the accused:
      Seven witnesses were required to condemn a person. But the witnesses were never brought face to face with the hapless accused. The inquisition admitted the testimony of all kinds of people, even of those who were interested in the utter condemnation of the accused. Among the seven witnesses, was included the victim himself, who under torture had admitted the heresies that he had (not) committed.

    • Tortures:
      Three kinds of torture were practiced: 1) the rope or the pulley, 2) water and 3) fire. The torture by rope consisted of the arms being tied backwards and then raised by a pulley, leaving the victim hanging for some time, and then let the victim drop down to half a foot above the floor, then raised again. These continued up-and-down movement dislocated the joints and made the prisoner emit horrible cries of pain. This torture went on for an hour.
      The torture by water was as follows: the victim was made to lie across an iron bar, and was forced to imbibe water without stopping. The iron bar broke the vertebrae and caused horrible pains, whereas the water treatment provoked vomits and asphyxia. Thetorture by fire was definitely the worst: the victim was hung above a fire, which warmed the soles of the feet, and the jailers rubbed bacon and other combustible materials on the feet. The feet were burned until the victim confessed. These last two tortures lasted for about an hour, and sometimes more.The house of torments was a subterranean grotto, so that other might not hear the cries of the wretched. Many a time, the victims died under torture; their bodies were interred within the compound, and the bones were exhumed for the auto da fe, and burnt in public.

    • Showing them mercy by burning at stake:
      By daylight, each convict was ordered to march alongside a godfather, one of the officials assigned to each victim. It was a great honor to be appointed godfather for these ceremonies. The procession was led through the long streets of the city,so that the multitudes could watch the ugly pageant. Finally, covered with shame and confusion, tired of the long march, the condemned reached the church of St. Francis, which was decked with great pomp and circumstance. The altar was covered with black cloth on which stood six silver candleholders. On both sides of the altar there were two kinds of thrones: the right side for the inquisitor and his councilors, and the left side for the viceroy and his court. The convicts and godfathers were seated on benches.
      Next, four man-sized statues were brought, accompanied by four men who carried boxes full of bones of the victims who had died by tortures: these statues, wearing the Samarra and representing the dead victims would be tried too. Once the sermon was concluded, two officials went up to the pulpit to read publicly the proceedings of all the guilty, and to declare the sentences upon them.
      The condemned to be burnt at the stake were delivered to the secular arm, to which the Inquisition begged to use clemency and mercy with these wretched, and to impose the death penalty without effusion of blood - by burning them at stake!

    Remarks of a historian:

    The words Auto da fé reverberated throughout Goa, reminiscent of the furies of Hell, which concept, incidentally does not exist in the Hindu pantheon. On April 1st 1650 for instance, four people were burnt to death, the next auto da fé was on December 14, 1653, when 18 were put to the flames, accused of the crime of heresy. And from the 8th April 1666 until the end of 1679 - during which period Dellon was tried - there were eight autos da fé, in which 1208 victims were sentenced. In November 22, 1711 another auto da fé took place involving 41 persons. Another milestone was on December 20, 1736, when the Inquisition burnt an entire family of Raaim, Salcete, destroying their house, putting salt on their land, and placing a stone padrao, which still existed in the place (at least in 1866)
    -Alfredo De Mello ('Memoirs of Goa' Chapter 21
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