St. John De Britto ,the Patron saint of Saktikulangara and the ultimate source of all blessings on this land

John Hector de Britto was born on the 1st of March 1647 in an aristocratic royal family in Potughal. His father Don Salvador de Britto was the head of the cavalry of the prince of Braganza and close to the King. He was later appointed viceroy to Brazil but died while John was a boy. His mother Dona Bearic Pereira a devout catholic was committed to bring up John in Christian faith with all its fervor. Considering his uprightness John was assigned to be companion to the crown prince and had to live in the palace,

n 1662 at the age of 14 John left behind a prospective career in the palace and opted to join the Society of Jesus. He had developed a passion for preaching the gospel in India.In 1664 he made his profession as a Jesuit taking up the religious vows. Having completed studies at the prestigious Coimboro University young John was appointed professor of Philosophy at St.Antony’s College ,Lisbon in 1669. But John’s mind was set on mission work in India.

After persistent requests John was assigned for the Madurai mission in India in 1673 which year he was ordained a priest. Sailing from Lisbon John along with other missionaries reached Goa in September 1674. Soon he joined the team of missionaries in Madurai mission which was a bold initiative to establish the Indian Catholic Church in Indian soil , a unique experiment in evangelization launched by Robert de Nobili who wanted to present the gospel to high caste Hindus. Fr. John ministered in different parts of Tamil Nadu including Madurai, Tanjore and Rameshwaram . But he is more known for his ministry in the Marava Kingdom –Ramanathapuram. About 7300 persons were baptized by Fr.Britto besides hundreds of unbaptized disciples.

Fr. John totally identified himself with the Indian culture , becoming a vegetarian and renaming himself as “Arul Andavar”. Soon he attracted the displeasure of the king of Maravar Country who imprisoned him ,subjected him to severe tortures and forbid him from preaching the gospel in his kingdom .

After twelve years of fruitful missionary expeditions Fr. Britto was called back to Lisbon in 1686. His childhood friend had ascended the throne as King Pedro II who offered Fr. Britto prime post in the palace but Fr. Britto’s mind was in India and he returned to Ramnad in 1692 for a fresh spell of preaching and ministering inviting the wrath of the king and caste Hindus. In the second phase of ministering Fr.Britto could win hundreds of souls for Christ. Meanwhile Fr. Britto was appointed as the apostolic visitor to the whole of Madras Presidency bestowing greater responsibilities. But the Lord had deigned to grant him the glory of a martyr. Arul Anandar’s mission work faced stiff resistance from the rulers, and led to his execution at Oriyur a village along the coastal line {presently in Sivagangai diocese} about 100 KM from Madurai on 4th February,1693 for bearing witness to Christ, his master.

There ended the glorious journey of a prince who relinquished prime places in the university and the royal palace for the sake of the gospel. On April 8th1852 John de Britto was beatified by Pope Pius IX and canonized on 22nd June 1947 by Pope Pius XII .St.John de Britto’s feast is celebrated on the day of his martyrdom. Shakthikulangara parish is privileged to have a great martyr as its patron . The life and ministry of our patron saint has great relevance at a time when the Church in India is contemplating on translating Christian faith in Indian ethos and culture.