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The Missionary Life and Labours of Francis Xavier Taken From His Own Correspondence

With a Sketch of the General Results Roman Catholic Missions Among the Heathen
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Henry Venn
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Missionaries, or dry compilations from those letters. But these sources of information cannot satisfy any one who desires a clear knowledge of this subject. He will seek for histories of Missions written from the field of labour by the labourers themselves, or by those who have witnessed the work abroad: or the Journals and collected letters of individual Missionaries. Since Mis sions were taken up in earnest by the Protestant Church, at the close of the eighteenth century, the press, in England and America, has teemed with such Missionary histories and biographies. Numerous volumes have been written by Missionaries themselves, or by their relatives and others. In such books we see the living man and his real work. As soon, therefore, as my attention was tuned to the subject of Romish Missions, I sought out for some such authentic biographies, memoirs, or histories of Romish Missionaries. Wherever I inquired, the Life of Xavier was presented to me, and no second work of that class could be named. I searched public libraries and booksellers' shops without success. I made inquiries personally at the head-quarters of Romish Mis sionaries in France, namely, the Institute of the Faith at Lyons, but was assured that the Life of Xavier was the only biography of any authority: the same answer was returned to a friend who made the inquiry at the Col lege of the Propaganda at Rome; and my friend was further informed that it was contrary to the principles of the Romish Church to permit the unauthorized publi cation of the personal history of its Missionaries. I was hence led to study the life of Xavier as the only authentic source from which an internal View of the life and labours of a Romish Missionary can be obtained. The life of Xavier has another title to consideration. Many prevailing sentiments of the present day, even in Protestant countries, respecting Missions, find their counterpart in some of the most striking features in the history of Francis Xavier, such as a craving for the romance of Missions; the notion that an autocratic power is wanted in a Mission, such as a Missionary Bishop might exercise; a demand for a degree of self-denial in a Missionary bordering upon asceticism. These, and many such sentiments, are often illustrated by a reference to the life and success of Xavier. The delusive character of such sentiments cannot fail to appear on a careful study of the truth of Xavier's history.

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