10 'Kristapurana' architect's Fourth Death Centenary - Msgr Francis Correa

posted Jan 30, 2019, 9:28 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jan 30, 2019, 9:28 AM ]

Fr Thomas Stephens (1619-2019)

This year, the literary world of Maharashtra observes the fourth death centenary of the architect of Kristapurana - Fr Thomas Stephens, an Englishman. Kristapurana is the first Catholic literary work in India to be accepted as an epic in the Marathi-literary world. It was completed by Fr Thomas Stephens in the year 1614 and published in 1616. This renowned poet died three years later. Probably, he died at the main House of the Jesuits, known as Bom Jesu, Goa,

Thomas was born in 1549 in the village of Clyffe Pipard, Bushton in the region of Wiltshire, England. His father, also named Thomas Stephens, was a well-to-do merchant; his mother, Jane, was a housewife. For better prospects, Thomas the senior moved to London. Junior Thomas, who probably attended the New College, Oxford, was elected a scholar of Winchester in 1564. It is at this college that Thomas came in close contact with the literary circle of England, an environment in which Shakespeare was also moulded. This was a time when there was the great turmoil of the Catholics and Protestants in England. The statues of the Catholic saints were shunned and put in godowns or crushed by the new trend of Anglicanism. Seeing the sight of the breaking of the statues, Thomas too was deeply broken within himself.

Thomas’ family was totally on the side of the Catholics, in which the letters coming from the Far East, written by none other than Fr Francis Xavier, and translated into English, were being read by the family. Thomas nurtured the thought of furthering the work of the great missionary Fr Xavier. This made him fly from the anti-Catholic environment of England, and land on the shores of the mainland of Europe.