The Forgotten Inquisition and the Psychopathic Saint – Final Part

Now, where was I? Ah yes, “the screams of agony of the victims (men, women, and children) [that] could be heard in the streets, in the stillness of the night, as they were brutally interrogated, flogged, and slowly dismembered in front of their relatives. Eyelids [that] were sliced off and extremities [that] were amputated carefully, so that a person could remain conscious even though the only thing that remained was his torso and a head. [1]

That Xavier foresaw such barbarity is beyond question, as the Inquisition had been raging throughout his own region for the best part of a century;[2] that he would have known that young men and women would be burnt alive and dismembered in front of their relatives, that sharp metal spikes would eviscerate the flesh of all those who refused assimilation into this brutal cult, also represents knowledge we can undoubtedly infer upon this psychopathic saint.  But we need not merely infer such knowledge upon this pretentious and pathological priest, for we have the testimony of one of the foremost experts on the history of Goa, Catholic historian Dr. T.R. DeSouza, who, in an interview related the following:

“Francis Xavier and Simão Rodrigues, two founder-members of the Society of Jesus were together in Lisbon before Francis Xavier left for India. Both were asked to assist spiritually the prisoners of the Inquisition and were present at the very first auto-da-fé celebrated in Portugal in September 1540, at which 23 were absolved and two were condemned to be burnt, including a French cleric. Hence, Francis Xavier could not have been unaware of the brutality of the Inquisition.”[3]

I shall finish off this brief three part series with two partial and primary sourced accounts that demonstrate the barbaric nature of this savage religion’s efforts to convert the people of Goa.

The Compassionate Prison Guard

The Lutheran historian, R. Gonsalvius Montanus, who lived and wrote at the time of the Goa Inquisition, relayed the tragic story of a compassionate prison guard who dared to show a modicum of mercy to a mother and her two daughters. Peter ab Herera worked in the infamous Triana Tower Prison.  Among other equally innocent inmates were a mother and her two daughters, who had been locked away in separate parts of the tower, and who, in desperation, beseeched the guards to let them spend just a few moments together.  Peter obliged the distraught mother and her daughters and for this crime of compassion, he was thrown into prison by the Lord’s Inquisitors.  The conditions were so horrendous that after a year languishing in prison he began to lose his mind.  Once a year had passed, the Inquisitors brought him up for trial and he was cloaked in a yellow garment with a tether around his neck (the common garb worn by convicted thieves).  He was handed the sentence of 200 painful lashes and six more years in the nightmarish prison that had already stripped him of both his dignity and his sanity.  The thought of being flogged and spending any more time in that wretched prison was too much for him to bare, so, with his hands bound he jumped from the horse, grabbed the Inquisitor’s sword and attempted to kill him.  If it weren’t for the frightened onlookers, he would have succeeded, but alas, the crowds, possibly wishing to gain the favour of these sycophants, stopped him and an additional six years was placed upon his original six year sentence. [4]

We don’t know what became of Peter ab Herera, but we do know that his case was just one of the thousands of similar ones that took place in Goa under the Christians and that the man responsible for these crimes against both humanity and morality, was Saint Francis Xavier.

The Good Doctor – Dr Gabriel Dellon

Dr Dellon was a French-born Jewish doctor who, moved by his humanity and his Hippocratic oath to save lives, took it upon himself to travel to Goa to help those in need.  When he arrived he found a people living in fear and suffering beneath the horrendous yoke of the Holy Office. After spending a short time fulfilling the purpose of his visit, he was arrested by officers of Xavier’s Inquisition.  We are very fortunate that he was eventually released and that he had the courage to write about his experience and the experiences of those he had the misfortune of seeing tortured, imprisoned and murdered by these curators of Christ. His book, ‘Relation De L’inquistion De Goa,’ was originally published in Holland in 1687, but it was censored by Christian theocrats for close to 200 years.

Dr Dellon wrote of his trial in the following words:

“The great bell of the cathedral tolled a little before sun-rise as a signal to the multitude to assemble for the august solemnity of the Auto de Fe, which is the Triumph of the Holy Office; and we were then commanded to go forth one by one. In passing from the gallery to the great hall, I remarked that the Inquisitor was seated at the door, and a Secretary standing near him; that the hall was filled by the inhabitants of Goa, whose names were entered in a list which he held; and that as each prisoner came out of the gallery, he called for one of the gentlemen in the hall, who immediately advanced to the prisoner to accompany him, and act as his godfather at the Act of Faith.”[5]

Following his trial he was confined to the prison of the Holy Office and spent two years in the bowels of Xavier’s prison.  After a year had past and following numerous audiences with officials, who demanded he confess his sins, despite the fact that he had no sins to confess, he made a number of attempts on his own life.[6] First he tried to strangle himself and later he slashed his own wrists, but Jesus’ mercy was too great and he was kept alive to suffer the unrelenting wrath of the earthly officers of this mythical son of a mythical god. 

One of the trials Dellon witnessed was that of a young couple who had de-converted from the faith that had been forced onto them by Xavier’s zealots.  They were charged with apostasy and the crime for this, as it is today in Saudi Arabia and other equally vile religious theocracies, was death.  Dellon relayed the trial and its outcome in the following words:

“There were a man and a woman, and the images of four men deceased, with the chests in which their bones were deposited. The man and woman were black native Christians, accused of magic, and condemned as Apostates; but in truth, as little sorcerers as those by whom they were condemned. The proceedings against these unfortunates were then read, all of which concluded in these terms : “that the mercy of the Holy Office being prevented by their relapse or contumacy, and being indispensably obliged to punish them according to the rigor of the law, it gave them to the secular power and civil justice, which it nevertheless entreated to regard with mercy and clemency these miserable creatures, and if they were liable to capital punishment, that it should be inflicted without effusion of blood [burnt at the stake instead]." At the conclusion of these words, a Tipstaff of the Lay Court approached and seized his victims, each previously receiving a slight blow on the breast from the Alcaide of the Holy Office, to testify that they were abandoned.” [7]

Dellon’s writing style, being somewhat akin to my own, was often charmingly sarcastic and even a little facetious at times, and this is evidenced by his remarks concerning the outcome of this terrible trial:

“How benevolent is the Inquisition, thus to intercede for the guilty! What extreme condescension in the magistrates, to be satisfied, from compliance to the Inquisition, with burning the culprits to the very marrow of their bones, rather than shed their blood!”[8]

Imagine the hypocrisy of a religion which preached compassion as it strapped women to racks and with sincerely insane intentions, turned the wheel over and over, all the while praying to their god, as her limbs were slowly and painfully torn from her body; a religion which imprisoned the innocent and tortured whole families for nothing more than the want to have these people believe as they do.

Dellon’s account of Xavier’s Inquisition eventually reached the desk of the Grand Inquisitor of the Goa Inquisition and he denied none of the horrendous charges made by Dellon, but entreated Dellon to take into account the “merciful” motivations of the Holy Office in dismembering, imprisoning, torturing and murdering innocent people who failed to share their delusions. [9]

I would like to finish this three-part series with the cuttingly honest remarks of the great American philosopher, Will Durant, who in commenting on the very core issue that goes to the heart of such fiendish endeavours as the Inquisition, said;

“Intolerance is the natural concomitant of strong faith; tolerance grows only when faith loses certainty; certainty is murderous.”[10]

Thank you for reading.

Michael Sherlock


  1. The Goa Inquisition – By Dr T.R. de Souza -
  2. Cecil Roth. The Spanish Inquisition.  W.W. Norton & Co. (1996). p. 316.
  4. F.B. Wright. A History of Religious Persecutions, From the Apostolic Age to the Present time; And of the Inquisition of Spain, Portugal and Goa. Robinson and Sons. (1816). pp. 217-218.
  5. Gabriel Dellon. An Account of the Inquisition at Goa, in India. R. Patterson & Lambdin. (1819). p. 121.
  6. Ibid. p. 95.
  7. Ibid. pp. 132-133.
  8. Ibid.
  9. F.B. Wright. A History of Religious Persecutions, From the Apostolic Age to the Present time; And of the Inquisition of Spain, Portugal and Goa. Robinson and Sons. (1816). p. 271.
  10. Will Durant. The Story of Civilization. Vol. 4: The Age of Faith; Chapter 28. (1950).


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