Constantine Joseph Beschi biography, (or Costanzo Giuseppe Beschi) was an Italian missionary in South India and a renowned Tamil poet. He was a highly educated man who commanded several languages, including Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and Portuguese. He received theological training at Ravenna and Bologna and was then appointed for the Madurai Mission in South India. In 1710, Beschi first arrived in Goa and then moved to Madurai in 1711.
In the early 1700s, there was severe political unrest in Southern India. The rulers of Thanjavur and Madurai were hostile to the Christian community and persecuted the missionaries. At such a time, Beschi committed himself to serve the Tamil people and lead them towards Christ.
Constantine Joseph Beschi ministry in India
He began his missionary work at a small town called Elakurichi, near Thanjavur. He quickly learned Tamil, Sanskrit, Telugu, and Urdu and started writing religious content in those languages. He didn’t believe in the direct adoption of western church culture and established indigenous churches to suit the local culture.
Tradition has it that he had baptized more than 12,000 during his missionary service. Although he did missionary work primarily, Beschi is famously known for his literary contributions, especially in Tamil. His desire to reach out to the native people in their own language motivated him to become a Tamil Scholar and a poet.
He published Tamil literary grammar books and dictionaries, which helped the later missionaries to equip themselves for the mission. His books were read with delight by all sections of the people, Christians, and non-Christians alike. Hence, he is often referred to as the ‘Father of Tamil Prose.’
Beschi remained strong under the persecutions. The threats and death attempts on him only encouraged him to work more enthusiastically for the Lord. He worked in the Thanjavur area till 1738 and then worked along the Coromandel Coast, where he remained till the end of his life.
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Constantine Joseph Beschi biography
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