Gonsalo Garcia was born on Feb. 5, 1556 in Agashi village in western India's Vasai (formerly Bassein) area. His father was a Portuguese soldier stationed at Bassein Fort and his mother, a Konkani-speaking Indian.
While assisting at the Church of the Holy Name of Jesus at Bassein, he developed a friendship with Jesuit Father Sebastian Gonsalves, who eventually became his lifelong mentor and guide.
Gonsalo studied under the Jesuits and at the age of 25, he traveled with the Jesuits to Japan as a missionary. He learned Japanese and served as a catechist for eight years.
Gonsalo wanted to become a Jesuit. But he could not as the Jesuits at that time did not accept natives into their society.
He then redirected his attention to doing business and became a successful merchant, well acquainted with people from all walks of Japanese society.
During his visit to Manila, he became familiar with the Franciscan order. He requested to join them and was accepted as a Franciscan lay brother.
When Franciscan Friar Pedro Bautista led a missionary delegation to Japan in 1593, Gonsalo was chosen as the translator.
They worked in Kyoto, Osaka and their success in converting people to the Catholic faith made some Buddhist priests upset. They appealed to Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the feudal lord, and chief Imperial minister, to expel the missionaries. But Hideyoshi, who was friendly with Christians, refused to expel them.
However, an event in 1596 reversed the situation.
A storm forced a Spanish treasure ship to anchor in Kyoto. Its captain Francisco de Olandia boastfully told a Japanese customs agent that the Spanish king had sent the missionaries to influence people to rebel against Emperor Go-Yōzei of Japan and overthrow him. This baseless story enraged the emperor, and he ordered all missionaries in Japan to be arrested and executed.
The Franciscans along with Gonsalo were arrested on December 8, 1596, jailed, and sentenced to death. On Jan. 5, 1597, they were ordered to walk on foot 600 miles from Kyoto to a hill outside of Nagasaki.
On Feb. 5, 1597, all 26 Christians were crucified one by one, and Gonsalo was the first. The soldiers pierced the hearts of all crucified Christians to ensure their death.
The martyrdom of Christians in Nagasaki became the most tragic and historic event for Catholicism in Japan.
In 1627, Pope Urban VIII permitted the veneration of all 26 martyrs in Franciscan and Jesuit orders. In 1629, their veneration was permitted across the Universal Church.
On June 8, 1862, Pope Pius IX canonized Gonsalo Garcia and his co-martyrs, making Gonsalo the first Catholic saint of the Indian subcontinent.
The Diocese of Vasai has named Gonsalo its patron saint and his feast day is celebrated on Feb. 6, when thousands of pilgrims across India flock to pay homage to him.
Pedro Calungsod, Filipino lay martyr and patron of catechists
Lorenzo Ruiz, Filipino layman who became a martyr in Japan
Andrew Kim Taegon, Paul Chong and companions laid the foundation of Korean Catholic Church
Paul Miki and companions, crucified for faith in Japan
'State can regulate fees' in minority colleges in India
The Supreme Court order will have far-reaching effects on Christian-run higher educational...
Why are Asian Churches reluctant to study clerical abuse?
A public report with facts and figures may result in empty pews just like in Western...
Indian state shuts internet in hunt for Sikh separatist
Blackout extension came as supporters of Amritpal Singh vandalized consulate in San Francisco, high...
Indian cathedral remembers Jesuit mission among tribals in eastern India
St. Mary’s Cathedral Church in Ranchi, the capital of Jharkhand state, is the mother church in...
Marian Basilica lives the memory of India’s sole Roman Catholic ruler
Basilica of Our Lady of Graces in Sardhana is a historic church that lives the memory of love and...
Indian basilica soaked in the blood of St. Thomas, the Apostle
Saint Thomas Cathedral Basilica at Mylapore is a monumental declaration on ancient root of...
Pakistan’s oldest church stands strong despite persecution
St. Joseph’s Church in Lahore is the oldest Catholic Church in Pakistan that has flourished since...
Tellicherry archdiocese belongs to the Syro Malabar Church and covers the territory of Kannur and Kasargode districts
The Archdiocese of Lahore is a major Catholic Church territory in Punjab province and the oldest diocese in the
The diocese of Chittagong comprises 17 civil districts of Chittagong,Cox’s Bazar, Bandarban, Rangamati,
In a land area of 5,299 square kilometers, the diocesan territory covers two civil districts -- Ranchi and
Yangon is the capital city of Myanmar. There are altogether 14 states and divisions. Yangon archdiocese comprises the
In a land area of 1,500 square kilometers, the archdiocesan territory covers the entire civil district of Ernakulam and
The archdiocesan area of 26,788 sq. kilometres includes one of the country's eight divisions. It comprises the civil