Francis Xavier

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Saint Francis Xavier (April 7, 1506‒ December 3, 1552) was a Jesuit missionary, styled usually the “Apostle of the Indies,” born, of a noble family, in the north of Spain; a student of Sainte Barbe in Paris, he took to philosophy, became acquainted with Ignatius Loyola, and was associated with him in the formation of the Jesuit Society; was sent in 1541, under sanction of the Pope, by John III. of Portugal to Christianize India, and arrived at Goa in 1542, from whence he extended his missionary labors to the Eastern Archipelago, Ceylon, and Japan, in which enterprises they were attended with signal success; on his return to Goa in 1552 he proceeded to organize a mission to China, in which he experienced such opposition and so many difficulties that on his way to carry on his work there he sickened and died; he was buried at Goa; beatified by Paul V. in 1619, and canonized by Gregory XV. in 1622 .[1]

Early Life

St. Francis Xavier was born in the Castle of Xavier in Navarre on April 7, 1506.

Missionary Life in India

St. Francis Xavier arrived on the west Coast of Goa on May 6, 1542. Then began a glorious decade of untold millions of conversions from Hinduism to Christianity. Signs and wonders followed St. Francis Xavier's preaching, and he baptized and catechized millions from Goa to Tamil Nadu in India.

St. Francis' testimony of Indians

St. Francis Xavier favorably testified about the people of India and their openness to the Gospel. He appealed in touching tones for more missionaries to come from Europe, telling them to be less worried about acquiring degrees, but more concerned about saving souls and pleasing God by laboring to make disciples and baptize them as commanded by the Lord: "If only someone could educate them in the Christian way of life, I have no doubt that they would make excellent Christians. Many, many people hereabouts are not becoming Christians for one reason only: there is nobody to make them Christians. Again and again I have thought of going round the universities of Europe, especially Paris, and everywhere crying out like a madman, riveting the attention of those with more learning than charity: “What a tragedy: how many souls are being shut out of heaven and falling into hell, thanks to you!”[2]

Dreams for Evangelizing China

"I hope to go there during this year, 1552, and penetrate even to the Emperor himself. China is that sort of kingdom, that if the seed of the Gospel is once sown, it may be propagated far and wide. And moreover, if the Chinese accept the Christian faith, the Japanese would give up the doctrines which the Chinese have taught them. Japan is separated from Liampou (which is a principal town in China) by a distance of about three hundred miles of sea. I am beginning to have great hopes that God will soon provide free entrance to China, not only to our Society, but to religious of all Orders, that a large field may be laid open to pious and holy men of all sorts, in which there may be great room for devotion and zeal, in recalling men who are now lost to the way of truth and salvation. I again and again beg all who have a zeal for the spreading of the Christian faith to help by their holy sacrifices and prayers these poor efforts of mine, that I may throw open an ample field to their pious labours"[3]

Legacy

"It is truly a matter of wonder that one man in the short space of ten years (6 May, 1542 - 2 December, 1552) could have visited so many countries, traversed so many seas, preached the Gospel to so many nations, and converted so many non-Christians. The incomparable apostolic zeal which animated him, and the stupendous miracles which God wrought through him, explain this marvel, which has no equal elsewhere. The list of the principal miracles may be found in the Bull of canonization. St. Francis Xavier is considered the greatest missionary since the time of the Apostles, and the zeal he displayed, the wonderful miracles he performed, and the great number of souls he brought to the light of true Faith, entitle him to this distinction. He was canonized with St. Ignatius in 1622."[4]

References

  1. Nuttall Encyclopedia of General Knowledge, article on Xavier, St. Francis originally published in 1907 written by Reverend James Wood
  2. https://catholicismpure.wordpress.com/2014/12/03/a-letter-from-st-francis-xavier-to-st-ignatius/
  3. Wang, Xiachou. Christianity and Imperial Culture: Chinese Christian Apologetics in the Seventeenth Century"
  4. Astrain, Antonio. 1911 Catholic Encyclopedia. https://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06233b.htm