St. Francis Xavier’s Search and Influence

In search of more converts, St. Francis Xavier continued to travel to the Malay Peninsula, the Banda Islands, the Molucca Islands, Ceylon and landed at Kagoshima. Next, he set his eyes on China, traveling to Shangchuan Island near canton. However, the borders were closed to foreigners at the time, and St. Francis Xavier couldn’t access Mainland China.

On December 3rd, 1552, St. Francis Xavier fell ill and died at the tender age of forty-six before gaining access to Mainland China. St. Xavier’s body was shipped to Goa, India for burial. At the time, Goa was a Portuguese province before being annexed by India in 1961. Goa was a Portuguese province for more than four hundred and fifty years. Some aspects of Portuguese culture can still be found in India’s smallest state. This cultural influence was propelled by intermarriage between the local populace and the Portuguese. Traditionally, the people of Goa have been blessed with a relatively high education level and have deep Catholic roots.

In search of more sophisticated labor for professional and administrative work, the IBEA (Imperial British East Africa) Company, which was charged by the British Empire to manage Kenya, encouraged Goans to visit and settle in the region near the end of the Nineteenth Century. With many having Portuguese citizenship (and ancestry), and being Christian, Goans were designated non-Indian status, which carried tax and special immigration benefits. Several Goans came to Kenya as lawyers, doctors, and businessmen.

In 1899, Dr. Rosendo Ayres Ribeiro became the first Goan to establish a private medical practice when he came to Kenya. Dr. Rosendo Ayres would often visit patients on a zebra, which was relatively more disease resistant than a horse. Although Goans were accorded this special status, they were still ranked below Europeans and had to establish their churches, schools, and clubs.

Located at the junction of Prof Wangari Maathai Road and Parklands Road, St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church was constructed in 1933 and financed mainly by the Goan community. The Goan community constructed the church for their use, and in some ways is a reminder of racial segregation during those days. St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church features a neo-gothic architectural design, and the walls feature butch stone buttressed externally at similar intervals under a Mangalore tiled roof with a vaulted, high ceiling. The windows feature steel casement gazings supported with rose windows and arched openings to the higher elevations. Rusticated to outer elevations, the walls give a visual impression of a fortress that’s impenetrable. Presently, the Church of St. Francis Xavier is open to all races and features a statue of St. Francis Xavier in the middle of the garden. Presently, the Church of St. Francis Xavier also has branches in other parts of the world, including major cities such as New York.