Thomas Stephens SJ
Thomas Stephens was born in Wiltshire around 1550, becoming a Catholic after studies in Oxford. He travelled to Rome and became a Jesuit in 1575. He was missioned to Goa in Portuguese India by Fr General Everard Mercurian where he arrived in 1579, possibly the first Englishman to set foot in India. He served as parish priest and Superior in Salcete, Goa until his death in 1619. He is best remembered for his linguistic and literary scholarship. Known as the Father of Christian Literature in India, he produced the first printed grammar of what is now called the Konkani language, as well as a catechism in Konkani. This was the second printed book ever to be published in an Indian language. In the early 1600s Stephens wrote an 11,000 stanza epic poem, the Christian Puranas or Kristapurana in a mix of Marathi and Konkani. Adopting the lyrical verse form of the Hindu puranas it retells Bible stories from the creation to the time of Jesus. These were in regular use as sung hymns of praise in Goa until the 1930s.