Berse, Gaspar (Barzeo)

views updated


Jesuit missionary in India and associate of St. Francis Xavier; b. Goes, Netherlands, 1515; d. Goa, Oct. 18, 1553. In his youth he studied philosophy at Louvain and, among other things, served for a time in the army of Charles V. He entered the Society of Jesus at Coimbra and was ordained shortly thereafter. The following year he left Lisbon for the missions in India, arriving in Goa in 1548. After teaching philosophy and Sacred Scripture for a short time at the college in Goa, he was deputed by Francis Xavier to evangelize Ormuz in Persia. For two and one half years (May 1549 to November 1551) Berse worked among the Moslems and Jews of the coastal city, earning their respect and achieving notable results. He was called back to Goa by Xavier, who appointed Berse rector of the college there and vice provincial of the entire foundation. Xavier left Berse with detailed directives for the discharge of his duties while Xavier was in China; but without a prudent superior to moderate his activities, Berse expended himself with more zeal than caution. A year later he was dead. Throughout his brief career on the mission, Berse took the spirit and methods of Xavier as his ideal. Like his master, Berse was able to move souls by his preaching and to inspire them by his zeal and holiness.

Bibliography: Monumenta historica Societatis Jesu, passim. g. schurhammer and j. wicki, Epistolae s. Francisci Xaverii, 2 v. (Rome 194546), passim. r. streit and j. dindinger, Bibliotheca missionum (Freiburg 1916) 4:155156. c. sommervogel et al., Bibliothèque de la Compagnie de Jésus, 11 vol. (BrusselsParis 18901932; vol. 12 suppl. 1960) 1:906937; 7:1772. e. lamalle, Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques, a. baudrillart et al. (Paris 1912) 6:105961, with extensive bibliog.

[j. c. willke]