Miracles Of St. Francis Xavier
( Originally Published 1883 )
The voyage from Singapore to San-Chan—the last voyage of Francis Xavier—was made memorable by several prodigies, and we find incidents of this kind crowded into the few last months of his life, as if he was to be magnified before men, after having incurred so severe a disappointment at Malacca. After leaving Singapore the vessel was becalmed for fourteen days. They were in all 500 souls on board, and the fresh water was soon consumed. No land was to be seen. The ship lay motionless on the sea, the torrid summer's sun streaming fiercely down upon it from a cloudless sky. Boats were sent out to search for some island that was thought to be not far off, but, after they had ventured as far as they could go with safety, they returned without any result. In this terrible strait the captain and crew—they were in great part Don Alvaro's people, and so hostile to Francis—remembered that they had the " holy Father " on board, the power of whose charity and miracles had rung through the whole East. They went to Francis and besought him to help them in their need. Francis placed a crucifix before them, and bade them all kneel with him and sing the Litanies of the Saints. Then he retired for a short time into his own cabin to pray, after which he came forth and bade them be of good courage. He had a boat lowered and went into it with a child. He told the child to take some of the sea water and taste it. It was salt. Then he bade him try again. This time it was sweet. On this, Francis went on deck, and ordered the crew to fill all the barrels and vessels they had with the sea water. They obeyed him, but when they tasted the water it was still salt. Then Francis Xavier blessed the water in all the vessels with the sign of the holy cross, and it was found to be sweeter and fresher than the water of Bangan, as the sailors said. Bangan was the name of a spring at Goa, the water of which was highly prized. There was enough water, after abundantly supplying all present needs, for the people on board to keep some of it as a treasure, and in this way it became famous over the East, being often used for cures and the like, as if it were the water of some miraculous well.
This miracle is one of those which were specially selected from the Processes by the auditors of the Rota as being beyond all doubt and cavil. The eye-witnesses, whose names are given, and who swore to the truth of these facts at Cochin, are two whose names occur in the letters of St. Francis at this time : Domenico Caldeira, who was 98 years old when he was examined ; and Joam Botello, who was 85. Botello was one of those who drew the water out of the sea at the order of Francis and tasted it before it was blessed, finding it salt ; and then again after it was blessed, when it was sweet. There were a great many other witnesses who had heard the story from eye-witnesses perfectly worthy of credit, but these two seem to bave been the only survivors within reach, of the persons actually present.
The calm ceased, and the Santa Croce was able to pursue her course to San-Chan. The remainder of the voyage was full of wonders, which, as we have said, seem crowded to an unusual degree into these last weeks of the life of St. Francis. A Mussulmuan lost his child, a boy of five years old, who fell overboard at a time when the ship was running fast before the wind, and when it was impossible even to make an attempt to save him. The poor father was in despair for three days, till he chanced to come across Francis Xavier on the deck.
It seems that Francis had not heard of the accident. He asked the father whether he would believe in Jesus Christ if his child were restored to him. The man declared he would, and after a few hours he met his child, bright and joyous as ever, running to him on the deck. He kept his promise, and was baptised with all his family."Life of St. Francis Xavier, by Father Coleridge.