Happy New Year everybody!
Upon departing from Lisbon, Xavier had relished a noble dream and hope as a young missionary and co-founder of the Society of Jesus. After the long tiresome voyage over the treacherous ocean, stopping a year in Mozambique in Africa, 3 years in Goa in India, and two years living in Melaka, while traveling to Timor a few times, he thought he did his best despite language barriers. He converted many people, but progress was slow with lesser success than he had anticipated. He wasn't fully satisfied. When he encountered Anjiro, he was struck with joy and so reported "God has put it into my heart" to King John "to go to the islands of Japan to spread our holy faith."
Melaka Viceroy Pedro de Silva, the 5th son of Vasco de Gama, pledged financial help for the voyage and propagation, prepared gifts, such as a music playing clock, organ, matchlock, crystal glass, satin damask, bottles of wine, books, etc. On April 15, 1549, Xavier set sail on board the Chinese junk accompanied by Father Cosme Torres, John Fernandez and Anjiro, arriving at Kagoshima on August 25. Kagoshima was Anjiro's native city, and he quickly obtained from Lord Shimazu permission for Xavier to preach. While Anjiro translated and circulated the Creed, and some simple prayers, Xavier set himself to learn the Japanese language.
As soon as he could use it fluently, he began to preach. But, not long afterwards, the Lord grew angry with the Portuguese merchants because they had abandoned his port of Kagoshima to carry on their trading at Hirado, a better port a little to the north of Nagasaki. He withdrew the permission he had given and threatened to punish any Japanese who became a Christian. The few converts remained faithful and declared they were ready to suffer punishment or death rather than deny Christ. After a year at Kagoshima, Xavier decided to push on to Hirado, carrying on his back all the articles necessary for the celebration of Mass. At Hirado the missionaries baptized more converts in twenty days than they had done at Kagoshima in a whole year. Leaving these converts with Father Torres in charge, Xavier and his party set out over land for Kyoto, the imperial capital. They went by the beautiful inland sea to the port of Yamaguchi, and Xavier preached there, in public and through Anjiro, before the local prince.
After a month's stay at Yamaguchi, Xavier resumed his journey with his companions. It was nearing the end of the year, and they suffered from inclement weather and bad roads. They reached Kyoto in February and here Xavier found that the city was in a state of civil disorder and utter chaos, and the emperor was in retreat. So after a fortnight's stay, he returned to Yamaguchi. He received an official invitation from the Bungo Lord Sorin Otomo, a breakthrough. He was successful to have one of the powerful Daimyos christened and under his auspices, his friends and relatives who followed suit. However, these favorable turn of events did not hinder his personal ultimate goal to travel to China to preach the Gospel. In 1552, Xavier left Japan without knowing he was doomed to die on the way.
Portuguese missionaries, such as Luis Frois, Francisco Cabrel, Alessandro Valignano, Gasper Vilela followed Xavier, to harvest seeds sowed by Xavier, but all the Jesuit's efforts came to naught when in 1587 deportation orders by Taiko Hideyoshi took effect, and in 1612 Christianity was banned by the Tokugawa Shogunate.folding screen at the Kobe Museum illustrates scenes from their mission.
Records of Anjiro became blurred along with his Christened name Paulo de Santa Fe once Xavier left Japan. He might have taken all the blame that his translations caused problems, e.g. Dainichi for Christ, Mary for Kannon, etc. versus Buddhism. Rumors said he traveled again overseas.
The above article first appeared in the magazine CABARAN (Challenge) of the Chi Wen Secondary School, Bahau, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia.