(for example, Bom Jesus, Se Cathedral, St Francis of Assisi, Holy Spirit of Margao) remain rich expressions of the architecture, sculpture, painting, and wood-carving styles of the time.
During the sixteenth century, Christianity made remarkable progress in the numbers of converts made both inside the Portuguese-held territories and in the various Portuguese trading centres. There were, however, no close contacts with the higher classes of the Hindus. Saint Francis Xavier contributed much to evangelizing the people of India. Arriving in Goa on 6 May 1542, he was active in charitable works while he preached to the Portuguese settlers and catechized among the local people. Within five months he had left Goa for the east coast of India, and by August 1549, he was in Japan. The Italian Jesuit, Fr Alessandro Valignano (1539-1606), built on the foundations laid by Xavier and came to be known as the foremost organizer of the Indian missions of his day. He stressed the need to learn local languages and he set up schools for this purpose. He laboured long on the problem of the church in Malabar and pondered the best ways to bring them fully back to the Catholic Church.
It was in 1581, during Valignano's tenure as Provincial of Goa, that the Enlightened Mughal emperor, Jalal-ud-din Muhammad Akbar, invited the Jesuits to his royal court in north India. Akbar hoped to gather religious men from different faiths to help him found a new religion, the Din-i-Ilahi. Jesuits like Fr Rudolf Acquaviva and others participated in three successive Jesuit missions to the Mughal court over the next hundred years. Although these Jesuit missions failed to convert the various Mughal emperors, they did help bring about a better understanding between Islam and Christianity. They built up a fruitful connection with the imperial courts, a connection which enabled them to open mission stations in various parts of the Muslim Empire and even in Nepal and Tibet. Akbar was succeeded by Jahangir (who aided British attempts to trade in India), then by Shah Jahan (builder of the Taj Mahal), and finally by the ruthless Aurangzeb whose death in 1707 marked the effective end of the Mughal Empire, although it continued in a reduced form until the end of the rule of emperor Bahadur Shah in 1858.
Besides the Mughal court, Jesuits had an important presence at different times in the royal courts of the southern kingdoms of Vijayanagara, Gunji, Madurai, and Thanjavur. Jesuit superiors and subjects wrote regularly to Rome detailing their mission work, successes, failures, and needs. This system of regular correspondence within the Society ofJesus had been designed by Saint Ignatius, the founder of the order, as a way to strengthen the bonds of union among its members and facilitate good government. The Litterae Indicae, or
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