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St. Francis Xavier in Japan

October 1, 2012

Below please find a set of web questions about the writings of St. Francis Xavier, a Jesuit priest, who had some success converting many Japanese to Christianity during the 1500s, written by your classmate, Joe DeAngelo. He was one of the first Jesuits, having trained under St. Ignatius Loyola, and arrived in Japan in 1549. We read an except from Xavier’s writings in The Shaping of the Modern World: “A Jesuit Missionary Gives His First Impressions of Japan” (pp. 9-13).

When St. Francis Xavier arrived at Japan he instantly commended their manners, hospitality, and honor.  With these qualities in mind, he began to spread the word of Jesus and converting the Japanese to Christianity.  According to Xavier, what was one highlighted aspect of Japanese culture which aided in the conversion to Christianity?  Moreover, Xavier wrote that in enlightening the Japanese to Christianity, he came to realize ‘we’ (i.e., people from the Iberian Peninsula, and possibly other parts of Europe) could learn from the Japanese.  What did this mean?

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Norbert Fital permalink
    October 7, 2012 12:30 am

    According to Xavier, one of the highest aspects of Japanese culture was honor. The Japanese people highly treasured honor, which initially gave them respect. Xavier mentions that the Japanese are much more respectful and respectable than Europeans because the actions that Japanese people do, directly affect honor so they try to be respectful. This concept of honor is also displayed by how incredibly loyal the Japanese people are to their leaders and superiors. The Japanese display many values that Christianity teaches with actions that directly deal with honor. This would make the Japanese more mannerly and hospitable that the European and better suited for the Christian faith. Xavier believes that Europeans should adopt a similar concept of honor, which would make the Europeans better Christians and would make them generally better people. Xavier also believed that the Japanese people would make ideal Christians.

  2. Syed permalink
    October 8, 2012 8:02 pm

    Japanese have good manners and very sociable society.spreading Christianity was easier for Xavier because Japanese were literate. They quickly understand the prayers and religious matters. Japanese were very hungry for knowledge. They wanted to know about God. They were good listeners and affectionate of God. Japanese people are honest. They have respect for their elders and they know how to honor them. Japanese people’s naturalness and transparency of life also a teaching for the mankind. Xavier meant that people can take life simple and easy. They can live a honest and polite life.

  3. Jotty permalink
    October 18, 2012 12:01 am

    In Xavier’s writing we can see that he made a good experience in spreading Christianity to the Japanese people. Xavier considered them as people that had been yet discovered . They were sociable people, obedient, very polite. However, one highlighted aspect in the Japanese culture served as an important tool that helped in their conversion to Christianity. They were eager to knowledge when it came to the words of God and many of them can read and write which is much easier for them to learn the prayers in a short time. Analyzing the Japanese’s ways of living, Xavier realized that they were a good example for other people in the world since they were honest in their act, respectful to each other and then they were hosting to the missionaries. Following their example, people could have a different view of life and be a better Christian.

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