French archives, relating the remarkable fact that Kublai Khan actually requested the Pope to send one hundred missionaries to his country "to prove by force of argument, to idolaters and other kinds of folk, that the law of Christ was best, and that all other religions were false and naught; and that if they would prove this, he and all under him would become Christians and the Church's liegemen." "What might have been" is a question that cannot but rise in the hearts of those who read this extract. The death of the Pope, however, and faction among the cardinals, with the subsequent failure of the two missionaries sent — they turned back because of the hardships of the way—lost to Asia an opportunity such as the Church has seldom had.
Second Roman Catholic Effort
Period of Growth, 1579-1722; Period of Decline, 1722-1809
This second period of Roman Catholic effort synchronises with the Renaissance of the sixteenth century, with the rise of Protestantism, and is connected with Vasco da Gama's enterprise in doubling the Cape and taking possession of Malacca, for' from this base Xavier carried on his labours in the Ear East.
While in Europe the Reformation was becoming an increasing power, the Church of Rome commenced its counter-reformation in a strong missionary propaganda. The navigation of the East being under the control of Portugal and Spain, the Protestant Church was excluded from missionary activity even had it so desired. In the same year as England threw off the papal yoke, the order of the Jesuits, of which Xavier was one of the original members, was formed. The story of his labours in India, of his mission to Japan, and his death off the coast of China, are too well known to need repetition here. His inspiring zeal and his burning love to Christ, together with his failings and errors as a missionary, have been revealed through his translated letters, edited by the late Henry Venn, Honorary Secretary of the Church Missionary Society.