St. Francis Xavier Preaching in Goa
Lisbon's Holy House of mercy / Museum of São Roque
André Reinoso (c.1590, Province of Beira, Portugal–after 1641) and his collaborators
Oil on canvas
H: 104 cm; w: 165 cm
Naturalistic tenebrism, Iberian painters
Church of São Roque
The set of 20 paintings portraying the life of St. Francis Xavier (1506–1552) form the back-piece to a large chest-of-drawers in the sacristy of the 16th-century Church of St. Roque, and are the work of the Portuguese proto-Baroque painter André Reinoso and collaborators. Installed in 1619, three years before the official canonisation of St. Francis Xavier on the 12th March 1622, the set of paintings form part of a religious “propaganda” exercise to highlight the life and work of the great Jesuit missionary, which it was hoped, would speed up the process of his canonisation by the Catholic Church. The paintings were inspired by the first Portuguese biography of the saint written by Father João de Lucena (Histórica da Vida do Padre Francisco Xavier, e do que fizerão na Índia os mais religiosos da Companhia de Jesus) published in Lisbon in 1600.
The scene featured here shows the saint ardently preaching in the cosmopolitan city of Goa shortly after his arrival there in 1542. The picture has particular interest from an ethnographic viewpoint in that it shows the variety of oriental customs as well as recording different social classes. In the picture a crowd of new converts: men, women and children, as well as Portuguese noblemen watching on horseback, surround the saint. The background scene features a landscape fashioned in the Italian style.
This oil on canvas painting, part of a set of 20, is attributed to the Portuguese proto-Baroque painter André Reinoso (c. 1590-1641). Commissioned by the Society of Jesus for the sacristy of the Jesuit Church of St. Roque, this and other paintings of the set form the back-piece to a large chest-of-drawers installed in 1619, three years before the canonisation of the great missionary of the Far-East, St. Francis Xavier.
Society of Jesus
Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa / Museum of São Roque
This painting, as well as the other ones that make up the painted cycle dedicated to the life of St. Francis Xavier, was attributed to André Reinoso by the Art Historian, Prof. Vitor Serrão, after a thorough research on Reinoso’s life and his works, in the decade of 1990.
Church of São Roque, Sacristy (Lisbon), the work commissioned by the Society of Jesus to the painter André Reinoso and his collaborators.
Lucena, J., Historia da Vida do Padre Francisco Xavier (…), 1600, 2 vols, Lisbon, 1959.
Serrão, V. A., Lenda de S. Francisco Xavier pelo pintor André Reinoso, Lisbon, 1993.
Caetano, J. O., Pintura – Séc. XVI ao Século XX, Colecção de Pintura da Misericórdia de Lisboa, Tomo I, Vol. V, Museu de São Roque, Lisbon, 1998.
Serrão, V. A., “A série seiscentista da Vida de São Francisco Xavier do antigo Colégio do Espírito Santo em Évora: a iconografia xaveriana à luz de uma singular narração policénica”, Revista Oriente, No. 3, Lisbon, 2005.
Henriques, A. M. M., São Francisco Xavier – Vida e Lenda, Museu São Roque, Lisbon, 2006.
Antonio Meira Marques Henriques "St. Francis Xavier Preaching in Goa" in "Discover Baroque Art", Museum With No Frontiers, 2020. http://www.discoverbaroqueart.org/database_item.php?id=object;BAR;pt;Mus11_A;15;en
Prepared by: Antonio Meira Marques HenriquesAntonio Meira Marques Henriques
SURNAME: Meira Henriques
AFFILIATION: Lisbon’s Holy House of Mercy/Museum of São Roque
TITLE: Museum Curator
António Meira Henriques graduated in Philosophy and Theology at the Milltown Institute of Theology in Dublin, Ireland in 1977. He did his MA in Theology at the University of Santa Clara in California, USA. António has been a Curator at Lisbon’s Holy House of Mercy/Museum of São Roque since 2001, frequently collaborating with the Education Department at the Museum. His research interests focus on the history of the Society of Jesus and religious Iconography.
Translation by: Ian Rowcliff
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez
MWNF Working Number: PT 18
On display in
Discover Baroque Art Exhibition(s)Travelling and Exoticism | Pilgrimage and the religious missions Reformation and Counter-Reformation | A persuasive language for religious art
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