St. Francis Xavier- Sources:
Astrain, Antonio. “Saint Francis Xavier.” Catholic Encyclopedia. http://www.ewtn.com/library.
Butler, Alban. St. Francis Xavier, Confessor, Apostle of the Indies. http://www.ewtn.com/library.
St. Francis Xavier was born into a very prominent family in the Navarre, Spain on April 7, 1506. His mother was the heiress of the houses of Azpilcueta and Xavier. His father Don Juan de Jasso was a counselor to the King of Navarre. Francis was the youngest of several brothers, all of whom pursued careers in the military. Francis, having a more gentle nature, was sent by his parents in 1525 to study scholastic philosophy at the College of St. Barbara in Paris.
In Paris in 1525, Francis met fellow student Peter Faber and later in 1529, the man who would change both their lives, St. Ignatius Loyola. Having won over the two young men with his friendship, St. Ignatius revealed his plan to form an order, The Society of Jesus. In 1534, St. Ignatius, Xavier, Faber, and four others who had joined: Lainez, Salmeron, Rodriguez, and Bobadilla took first vows. Xavier and the others continued to teach in Paris until 1536, when they departed for Venice. In Venice, Xavier devoted himself to serving the sick at hospitals for the poor. On June 24, 1537, he received Holy Orders with St. Ignatius. Xavier then went to Rome to work for the Church where he remained until 1539. In 1540, he received an appointment from the King of Portugal to sail to the East Indies to evangelize the people there.
In 1542, Xavier arrived at Goa in western India, where he began a ministry of preaching, baptizing, and serving the poor in hospitals. After three years in India, he traveled to Malacca, the Molucca Islands, and Mindanao in the Philippines, where the Portuguese had settlements. In these places, he continued to convert many to Catholicism and set up Jesuit missions and novitiates to carry on his work. While in Mindanao, he met a Japanese citizen who informed him of the great need for evangelization in Japan.
In 1549, Xavier arrived in Kagoshima, Japan. He set out to learn the Japanese language and translate the articles of faith and short treatises to be used in the preaching and teaching of the people. For the next two and a half years, Xavier traveled through the center of Japan, preaching, teaching, converting, and baptizing thousands of Japanese people. Late in 1551, Xavier left the Japanese missions in charge of Fr. Cosme de Torres and Br. Juan Fernandez. He returned to India in early 1552 and began to plan a missionary journey to China. While planning the best routes to China, Xavier became very ill and died on December 2, 1552.
St. Francis Xavier was canonized with St. Ignatius Loyola in 1622. In his ten years as a missionary, he converted tens of thousands of people in Asia and traveled to more territories than any other missionary before the era of modern means of travel. Pope Urban VIII named him the “Apostle of the Indies” in 1552. St. Francis Xavier is considered the greatest missionary of the Church since the Apostles. His body is enshrined in a church in Goa in India, and his feast day is celebrated on December 3.
Respectfully submitted by:
Peter G. Ulrich