Let us now reproduce the interview of Rev Dr Hubert O Mascarenhas Ph.D; DD with the Editor of New Leader (of the Latin Archdiocese of Bombay) which appeared in the Silver Jubilee Souvenir of the Archdiocese of Tellicherry, 1970 :-
Editor: *Then what about the generally accepted fact or theory please correct me if I am wrong that Christianity in Goa traces its origin to St Francis Xavier ? Do you mean to say that even in Goa Christianity goes back to St Thomas ? If so, how can you substantiate such a statement with historic proofs ?
Fr Mascarenhas: Very good ! I am glad you have asked me that question. You put the burden of proof on me and so you will have to give me a very patient hearing. I am going to give you proofs from the horse’s own mouth from St Francis Xavier himself. In fact we must be grateful to the Society of Jesus for making these proofs popularly available (since 1953). What I am referring to is the critical edition of the letters of St Francis Xav ier by Fr Felix Zubillaga, S.J., published for the fourth centenary fo the death of St Francis (1952). In it there are three letters of the saing (numbered, document 15, 16, 17) which are very relevant to your question. These three letters were written by St Francis from Goa and addressed according to the editor, first to his confreres in Rome and the other two to St Ignatius, the Founder. All the three are dated Sept 20, 1542. They were probably written during the rainy season (June, July, august, September) in Goa and dispatched on Sept. 20, when there happened to be the first sailing ship leaving for Lisbon. It is also good to remember that St Francis arrived in Goa on May 6th, 1542. He wrote as an eyewitness and his evidence is unimpeachable.
Let me also refer to document 14, which is his earliest writing in Goa. In it there is a statement of Christian doctrine in the “I confess” and he puts Sts. Peter, Paul and Thomas of the same footing, which should at once remind you of the “I confess” still recited by st Thomas Christians of Kerala as well as generally by the East Indian, Goan and Mangalore Christians of the Konkan. ** Now I translate St Francis’ outstanding impressions of Goan Christianity for you from the Spanish I the critical edition P. 91 #5: “It is four months and more since we arrived in India, at Goa, which is a city totally of Christians a sight to be seen!**
Before I comment, let me also quote from the other letter of the same date which he wrote to St Ignatius: “The first thing that I beg for in the service of Our Lord Jesus Christ is, on the ground, that the people of this land are greatly devoted to the glorious Apostle St Thomas, who is the patron of the whole of this India; for the increase of the devotion of all these devotees that His Holiness the Pope should grant a plenary indulgence, on the feast day of St Thomas and its octaves, to all those who confess and communicate on that feast day and its octaves, and that for those who do not confess and communicate they should not gain the plenary indulgence”.
St Francis could not leave Goa by sea or land till the monsoon storms had stopped. For him, “Goa” was indeed India ! How could he urgently and unequivocally describe all these devotees of St Thomas, if it was he who had baptizsed them all and remember he speaks of the city being “totally of Christians” and remember how could they all be devoted to St Thomas, if they were not already St Thomas Christians in the most literal sense ? This kind of devotion to St Thomas existed and exists nowhere in Spain or Portugal or in any part of the world, except in India.
A second point is regarding the date of the martyrdom of St Thomas, which according to the Chaldean Syrians is July 3rd and according to the Latins, until recently, was Dec 21. While pleading for a plenary indulgence from the Pope, for the feast of St Thomas, St Francis speaks like a man who has already seen the extraordinary devotion of the people manifested during the preceeding novenas and later octaves of the feast of St Thomas in Goa. If the feast were always celebrated in Goa and elsewhere in India on dec. 21, as it was claimed till recently, St Francis could not have seen or participated in such an impressive feast, before writing to St Ignatius, because his letter was dated Sept. 20. But if the feast was celebrated on July 3rd, which the Goan Chaldeans and later Syrians (Eastern Christians) always claimed as the actual date of the martyrdom, St Francis must have personally witnessed that feast because he had arrived in Goa on May 6, and wrote his letters on Sept. 20, that is after personally witnessing the events of July 3rd in Goa, he later attested the people’s extraordinary devotion to St Thomas.
**Again St Francis is known to have baptized Goans on an average of 10,000 a month. Let us say he baptized about 25 days a month to give him some rest. It works upto about 400 baptism a day. Consider also the long rite of baptism he had to go through at that time. Moreover, was he only baptizing and not instructing ? How could he instruct so many in so short a time ? Or was it only a question of rebaptising the Christians of St Thomas (See Cardinal Tisserant’s Eastern Christianity in India p. 175) ** In that case we can understand there was no absolute need of instructing and preparing them. Both internal evidence from his letters and other reasons given above force one to conclude that the 10,000 baptisms a month attributed to St Francis were not an instance of mass conversion or miraculous Christianisation but only of mass Lusitanisation, under the aegis of the Portuguese Empire.