BIOGRAPHY OF SAINT
Feastday: December 3
Francis Xavier, Apostle of India and Japan and perhaps the
greatest missionary of the Church since Saint Paul, was born
on April 7, 1506 near Sanguesa in Spain. After completing
his preliminary studies in his own country, he went to Paris,
France in 1525 and entered the College of Sainte-Barbe. In
1526, he met Pierre Favre and a warm friendship sprang
between them. Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Society
of Jesus (Jesuits) resided at this same college.
He won the confidence of the two young men and they were the
first to join with him in the formation of the religious order.
They made their vows on August 15, 1534, binding themselves
to the service of God.
Francis Xavier went to Venice, Italy and
there he was ordained to the priesthood on June 24, 1537.
After ordination, he served for a brief period in Rome.
On April 7, 1541, Francis departed for India
as the Jesuits’ first foreign missionary.
He landed in Goa and immediately began to learn the language,
preach, minister to the sick and compose a catechism. His
success there was most notable. Multitudes flocked to hear
him, and he won many converts to the faith. He also faced
many hardships. He had less success with the Brahman sect
and a years’ worth of work among them resulted in only
one convert. Francis Xavier’s converts in India were
persecuted mercilessly and were often abused by the Protégées
officials and merchants.
On April 17, 1549, he set sail for
Japan filled with great zeal at the prospect f introducing
Christianity to this country. After an apostolate
of two years and three months, the Christian community in
that nation numbered some two thousand and continued to grow
He then set his sights on China. He arranged
passage there on a merchant ship in August of 1552. The ship
reached the desolate island of Sancian (Shang-chwan)
near the Chinese coast not far from Canton. While
there, Francis was seized with a fever on November 21, 1552.
He grew weaker and died on December 3, 1552. He was buried
the following day. After more than two months, the grave and
coffin were opened and his body found incorrupt. His body
was taken back to Goa, India and is enshrined in the Church
of the Good Jesus.
Francis Xavier was beatified in 1619 and
canonized a saint of the Catholic Church in 1622. In 1748
he was named the Patron Saint of the Orient. In 1904
he was declared the patron saint for the Propagation of the
Faith and in 1927 named the patron of missions. Francis Xavier
is also the Patron Saint of all Navigators.
SAINT FRANCIS XAVIER,
(1506-1552);Feastday: December 3. Born in the family castle
of Xavier, near Pamplona in the Basque area of Spanish Navarre
on Apr. 7, he was sent to the University of Paris 1525, secured
his licentiate in 1528, met Ignatius Loyola and became one
of the seven who in 1534, at Montmartre founded the Society
In 1536 he left Paris to join Ignatius in Venice, from whence
they all in tended to go as missionaries to Palestine (a trip
which never materialized), was ordained there in 1537,
went to Rome in 1538, and in 1540, when the pope formally
recognized the Society, was ordered, with Fr. Simon Rodriguez,
to the Far East as the first Jesuit missionaries.
King John III kept Fr. Simon in Lisbon, but Francis, after
a year's voyage, six months of which were spent at Mozambique
where he preached and gave aid to the sick eventually arrived
in Goa, India in 1542 with Fr. Paul of Camerino an Italian,
and Francis Mansihas, a Portuguese. There he began preaching
to the natives and attempted to reform his fellow Europeans,
living among the natives and adopting their customs on his
travels. During the next decade he converted tens of thousands
He visited the Paravas at the tip of India.
near Cape Comorin, Tuticorin (1542), Malacca (1545), the Moluccas
near New Guinea and Morotai near the Philippines
(1546-47), and Japan (1549- 51). In 1551,
India and the East were set up as a separate province and
Ignatius made Francis its first provincial. In 1552 he set
out for China, landed on the island of Sancian
within sight of his goal, but died before he reached the mainland.
Working against great difficulties, language problems (contrary
to legend, he had no proficiency in foreign tongues ), inadequate
funds, and lack of cooperation, often actual resistance, from
European officials, he left the mark of his missionary zeal
and energy on areas which clung to Christianity for centuries.
He was canonized in 1622 and proclaimed patron of
all foreign missions by Pope Pius X. F