St. Francis Xavier (December 3)

St. Francis Xavier was a Jesuit priest; it can be said that he is one of the greatest missionaries after St. Paul and regarded as the patron saint of foreign missions. He is also known as the apostle of India and Japan. St. Francis Xavier was born on October 7, 1506 in Navarre, Spain. He studied at the University of Paris and later taught at the University of Paris. The words that continue to occupy his mind was: “What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?” (Mt. 16:26)

He met St. Ignatius of Loyola, and with the enthusiasm of his new friend, Francis deepened his love for Christ. He then joined Ignatius to form the Society of Jesus in 1534.

In 1537, Francis was ordained a priest in Venice, then he transferred to Lisbon, where he took a boat to India and landed in Goa on the west coast of India. For the next decade, he was committed to bring faith to the Indian, Malaysian and Japanese people.

No matter where he went, he lived with the poorest people and shared their food and life needs; he gave countless hours of service to the sick and the poor, especially those with leprosy. He often had no time for sleep, but from his letters, he was always full of joy.

After he traveled through the Malaysian Islands, he went up to Japan to spread the Gospel. He studied Japanese in Japan and preached among the local gentry; he baptized them and established many mission centers for those who followed him. While he was in Japan, his greatest wish was to go to China and to preach in China, but this dream never materialized because before he arrived in China, he died in Shangchuan Island on December 3, 1552.

Francis Xavier was canonized a saint in 1622 by Pope Gregory XV, and was named by Pope Pius XI, together with St. Therese of Lisieux, as co-patron saint of foreign missions in 1927. St. Francis Xavier’s feast day is on December 3rd.