According to Prof. Ambeth R. Ocampo: In a map of the Philippines drawn up by the Jesuit Murillo Velarde and engraved by the Filipino Nicolas de la Cruz Bagay in 1744, my attention was riveted by St. Francis Xavier shown close to Mindanao, because it was once believed that he visited the Philippines in his missionary voyage through Asia. At Francis Xavier’s feet is a crab carrying a crucifix—a portrayal that retells one of his famous miracles.
Caught in a violent storm at sea, the saint raised his eyes to the heavens and prayed. He took a crucifix hanging from his neck and, depending on the version you are told, either dipped it into the waters where it fell from his hand or threw it in the turbulent waters that then turned calm. Soon the crew sighted land. On the shore, a crab emerged from the depths to return Francis Xavier’s cross; the saint blessed the crab in gratitude. The story goes that the crab was not eaten and returned to the sea, and that its relatives and progeny are now marked by a cross on the shell. I was once fed some of these crabs in Gensan and I realize now that I should have taken the shells as a souvenir. Those crabs are also seen as proof that Francis Xavier visited Mindanao.
Did Francis Xavier set foot on Mindanao or any other part of the Philippines? The negative answer is to be found in a very long and detailed footnote in one of the four volumes that tell the life of the saint by Georg Schurhammer, SJ. First he listed down the sources that say Francis Xavier visited Mindanao: Garcia Serrano (1623), Mastrilli (1637), Sanvitores (1661), Colin (1663), Combes (1667), Garcia (1673), Massei (1681), Sousa (1710), Alcazar (1710), Murillo Velarde (1749), Delgado (1754), Retana (1894 and 1906), Pastells (1897, 1923, 1925), Ravago (1909), Apalategui (1920), Feeney (1931), Cannon (1934), Ubillos (1945), and Eguren (1953).
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