SAINT GONSALO GARCIA
Gonsalo Garcia was born in Bassein, now known as Vasai, and received his education at the Jesuit College of Bassein.
At the early age of fifteen, he travelled with Jesuit Fr. Sebastian Gonsalves to Japan, where he worked as a Catechist for eight years. Gonsalo wanted to join the Jesuit Order, but he was not admitted. When his long-cherished dream of being a Jesuit did not materialize, Gonsalo moved to Macao and became a merchant. He left behind all his hopes of a religious vocation as his business expanded.
On a business trip to Manila in the Philippines, Gonsalo rekindled his desire to become a priest and was accepted into the Seraphic Order of the Franciscans. In the monastery at Manila, Gonsalo worked in the kitchen and dining room, along with being in charge of buying groceries and supplies. He became a familiar figure in the market, where he interacted with the merchants and locals. Gonsalo’s ability to speak fluent Japanese endeared him to the many Japanese people living in Manila. He often visited them when they were sick in hospital and they came to know him rather well.
When the Franciscans decided to open a mission in Japan, Gonsalo was appointed to accompany Fr. Baptista there. He was originally the official interpreter of his Superior, but later became the official ‘contractor’ of the mission. He was involved in the building of Franciscan churches in Macao and Osaka, convents and hospitals. Around four years later, persecution broke out in Japan. The missionaries were suspected of sedition and placed under house arrest. In February 1597, Br Gonsalo Garcia, along with five other Franciscans, three Jesuits and seventeen laymen were crucified on a hill near Nagasaki.
In 1627, Garcia and his fellow martyrs were declared as Venerable by Pope Urban VIII. On June 8, 1862, Pope Pius IX declared Gonsalo Garcia a saint. He is the first Roman Catholic
Saint from India and the second patron saint of the Archdiocese of Bombay.
Since St. Gonsalo Garcia is the Patron Saint of the dioceses of Vasai and the second Patron of the Archdiocese of Bombay, it was decided at the Episcopal Conference to shift the feast date from the 6th to the 7th of February so that the feast can be celebrated independently of St. Paul Miki and the other Nagasaki martyrs (St. Gonsalo Gracia being one of them)