Francis Xavier

Infobox Saint
name=St. Francis Xavier
birth_date=birth date|1506|4|7|mf=y
death_date=death date and age|1552|12|3|1506|4|7|mf=y
feast_day=December 3
venerated_insacapedinRoman Catholic Church, Lutheran Church, Anglican Church

birth_place=Javier, Navarre
titles=Apostle to the Far East
beatified_date=October 25, 1619
beatified_by=Paul V
canonized_date=March 12, 1622
canonized_by=Gregory XV
attributes=crucifix; preacher carrying a flaming heart; bell; globe; vessel; young bearded Jesuit in the company of Saint Ignatius Loyola; young bearded Jesuit with a torch, flame, cross and lily
patronage=African missions; Agartala, India; Ahmedabad, India; Alexandria, Louisiana; Apostleship of Prayer; Australia; Bombay, India; Borneo; Cape Town, South Africa; China; Dinajpur, Bangladesh; East Indies; Fathers of the Precious Blood; foreign missions; Freising, Germany; Goa India; Green Bay, Wisconsin; India; Indianapolis, Indiana;Sophia University, Tokyo, Japan;Joiliet, Illinois; Kabankalan, Philippines; Nasugbu, Batangas, Philippines; diocese of Malindi, Kenya; missionaries; Missioners of the Precious Blood; Navarre, Spain; navigators; New Zealand; parish missions; plague epidemics; Propagation of the Faith

Saint Francis Xavier (Konkani / Konknni : Sam Fransisku Xavier/ Sanv Fransisk Xavier;Basque: San Frantzisko Xabierkoa; Spanish: San Francisco Javier; Portuguese: São Francisco Xavier; Korean:성자 프란체스코 사비에르; Japanese:フランシスコ・ザビエル; Chinese: 聖方濟沙勿略) (Navarre, 7 April, 1506 - China, 3 December, 1552) was a Navarrese pioneering Roman Catholic Christian missionary and co-founder of the Society of Jesus (Jesuit Order). The Roman Catholic Church considers him to have converted more people to Christianity than anyone since St. Paul. [CathEncy|id=06233b|title=St. Francis Xavier]

Early life

He was born in the family cabin of Xavier (from Basque "etxe berri", "new house") near Sangüesa and Pamplona, in the Kingdom of Navarre, on 7 April, 1506, according to a family register. He was born to an aristocratic family of Navarre. He was the youngest son of Juan of Jasso, privy councillor to King John III of Navarre (Jean d'Albret), and Maria de Azpilicueta y Xavier, sole heiress of two noble Navarrese families. Following the Spanish surname custom of the time, he was named after his motherFact|date=June 2007; his name is accurately written Francisco de Xavier (Latin Xaverius) rather than Francisco Xavier, as Xavier is originally a place name. When joint Castilian and Aragonese troops commanded by Fadrique Álvarez de Toledo, Duke of Alba conquered the kingdom in 1512, incorporating it to the then-newborn (1492) union of Spain, many fortresses were devastated, including the family castle, and land was confiscated. Francis' father died when he was only 9 in 1515.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.

Missionary work

Francis Xavier devoted much of his life to missions in foreign countries. As King John III of Portugal desired Jesuit missionaries for the Portuguese East Indies, he was ordered there in 1540. He left Lisbon on April 7, 1541, together with two other Jesuits and the new viceroy Martim de Sousa, on board the "Santiago". From August of that year until March 1542, he remained in Mozambique then reached Goa, the capital of the then Portuguese Indian colonies on May 6 1542. His official role there was Apostolic Nuncio and he spent the following three years operating out of Goa. On September 20, 1543, he left for his first missionary activity among the Paravas, pearl-fishers along the east coast of southern India, North of Cape Comorin (or Sup Santaz). He lived in a sea cave in Manapad, intensively catechizing Paravar children for three months in 1544. He then focused on converting the king of Travancore to Christianity and also visited Ceylon (Sri Lanka). Dissatisfied with the results of his activity, he set his sights eastward in 1545 and planned a missionary journey to Macassar on the island of Celebes (today's Indonesia). After arriving to Malacca in October of that year and waiting three months in vain for a ship to Macassar, he gave up the goal of his voyage and left Malacca on January 1, 1546 for Amboyna where he stayed until mid-June. He then visited other Molucca Islands including Ternate and More. Shortly after Easter 1546, he returned to Ambon Island and later Malacca. During this time, frustrated by the elites in Goa, St. Francis wrote to King D. João III for an Inquisition to be installed in Goa. However, this Inquisition did not begin until eight years after his death.

Francis Xavier's work initiated permanent change in eastern Indonesia,and was known as Apostle of Indies where in 1546-1547 he worked in the Maluku region among the people of Ambon, Ternate, and Morotai (or Moro), and laid the foundations for a permanent mission.After he left Maluku, others carried on his work and by the 1560s there were 10,000 Catholics in the area, mostly on Ambon. By the 1590s there were 50,000 to 60,000.cite book
last =Ricklefs | first =M.C. | authorlink = | coauthors = | title =A History of Modern Indonesia Since c.1300, 2nd Edition | publisher =MacMillan | year =1993 | location =London | pages =p.25 | url = | doi = | id = ISBN 0-333-57689-6

In December 1547, in Malacca, Francis Xavier met a Japanese nobleman from Kagoshima named Anjiro. Anjiro had heard from Francis in 1545 and had travelled from Kagoshima to Malacca with the purpose of meeting him. Having been charged with murder, Anjiro fled Japan. He poured his heart out to Francis Xavier, telling him about his former life and the customs and culture of his beloved homeland. Anjiro was a samurai and as such provided Xavier with a skilled mediator and translator for the mission to Japan that now seemed much closer to reality. “I asked [Anjiro] whether the Japanese would become Christians if I went with him to this country, and he replied that they would not do so immediately, but would first ask me many questions and see what I knew. Above all, they would want to see whether my life corresponded with my teaching."

He returned to India in January 1548. The next 15 months were occupied with various journeys and administrative measures in India. Then due to displeasure at what he considered un-Christian life and manners on the part of the Portuguese which impeded missionary work, he travelled from the South into East Asia. He left Goa on April 15, 1549, stopped at Malacca and visited Canton. He was accompanied by Anjiro, two other Japanese men, the father Cosme de Torrès and Brother João Fernandes. He had taken with him presents for the "King of Japan" since he was intending to introduce himself as the Apostolic Nuncio.

Xavier reached Japan on July 27, 1549, but it was not until August 15 that he went ashore at Kagoshima, the principal port of the province of Satsuma on the island of Kyūshū. He was received in a friendly manner and was hosted by Anjiro's family until October 1550. From October to December 1550, he resided in Yamaguchi. Shortly before Christmas, he left for Kyoto but failed to meet with the Emperor. He returned to Yamaguchi in March 1551 where he was permitted to preach by the daimyo of the province. However, lacking fluency in the Japanese language, he had to limit himself to reading aloud the translation of a catechism.

Xavier was welcomed by the Shingon monks since he used the word "Dainichi" for the Christian God. As Xavier learned more about the religious nuances of the word, he changed to "Deusu" from the Latin and Portuguese "Deus". The monks also realized that Xavier was preaching a rival religion.

With the passage of time, his sojourn in Japan can be considered fruitful as attested by congregations established in Hirado, Yamaguchi and Bungo. Xavier worked for more than two years in Japan and saw his successor-Jesuits established. He then decided to return to India. During his trip, a tempest forced him to stop on an island near Guangzhou, China where he saw the rich merchant Diego Pereira, an old friend from Cochin, who showed him a letter from Portuguese being held prisoners in Guangzhou asking for a Portuguese ambassador to talk to the Chinese Emperor in their favor. Later during the voyage, he stopped at Malacca on December 27, 1551 and was back in Goa by January, 1552.

On April 17 he set sail with Diego Pereira, leaving Goa on board the "Santa Cruz" for China. He introduced himself as Apostolic Nuncio and Pereira as ambassador of the King of Portugal. Shortly thereafter, he realized that he had forgotten his testimonial letters as an Apostolic Nuncio. Back in Malacca, he was confronted by the "capitão" Álvaro de Ataíde de Gama who now had total control over the harbor. The "capitão" refused to recognize his title of Nuncio, asked Pereira to resign from his title of ambassador, named a new crew for the ship and demanded the gifts for the Chinese Emperor be left in Malacca.

In early September 1552, the "Santa Cruz" reached the Chinese island of Shangchuan, 14 km away from the southern coast of mainland China, near Taishan, Guangdong, 200 km south-west of what later became Hong Kong. At this time, he was only accompanied by a Jesuit student, Álvaro Ferreira, a Chinese man called António and a Malabar servant called Christopher. Around mid-November, he sent a letter saying that a man had agreed to take him to the mainland in exchange for a large sum of money. Having sent back Álvaro Ferreira, he remained alone with António.

The non-Christian perspective

The non-Christian perspective is different. He has been criticized for his responsibility in initiating the Goa Inquisition and for his iconoclasty. According to Rao, "St. Francis Xavier made it a point not only to convert the people but also destroy the idols and ancient places of worship." cite book
last =Rao| first =R.P. | title =Portuguese Rule in Goa: 1510--1961 | publisher =Asia Publishing House | year =1963 | location =New York | pages =p.43


He died in the year 1552 on the 3rd of December while he was on his journey to China, he died before he reached the mainland.

He was first buried on a beach of Shangchuan Island. His incorrupt body was taken from the island in February 1553 and was temporarily buried in St. Paul's church in Malacca on 22 March, 1553. An open grave in the church now marks the place of Xavier's burial. Pereira came back from Goa, removed the corpse shortly after April 15, 1553, and moved it to his house.

On 11 December, 1553, Xavier's body was shipped to Goa. The body is now in the in the Basilica of Bom Jesus in Goa, where it was placed in a glass container encased in a silver casket on December 2, 1637.

The right forearm, which Xavier used to bless and baptize his converts, was detached by Pr. Gen. Claudio Acquaviva in 1614. It has been displayed since in a silver reliquary at the main Jesuit church in Rome, Il Gesù. [ Cappella di san Francesco Saverio] , at the official website of Il Gesù. it icon]

Another of Xavier's arm bones was brought to Macau where it was kept in a silver reliquary. The relic was destined for Japan but religious persecution there persuaded the church to keep it in Macau's Cathedral of St. Paul. It was subsequently moved to St. Joseph′s and in 1978 to the Chapel of St. Francis Xavier on Coloane Island. More recently the relic was moved to St. Joseph's Seminary and the Sacred Art Museum. [ Chapel of St. Francis Xavier] , at the official website of the Macau Government Tourist Office.]


St. Francis Xavier is noteworthy for his missionary work, both as organizer and as pioneer. By his compromises in India with the Christians of St. Thomas, he developed the Jesuit missionary methods along lines that subsequently became a successful blueprint for his order to follow. His efforts left a significant impression upon the missionary history of India and, as one of the first Jesuit missionaries to the East Indies, his work is of fundamental significance to Christians in the propagation of Christianity in China and Japan.

Pope Benedict XVI said of both Ignatius of Loyola and Francis Xavier: "not only their history which was interwoven for many years from Paris and Rome, but a unique desire — a unique passion, it could be said — moved and sustained them through different human events: the passion to give to God-Trinity a glory always greater and to work for the proclamation of the Gospel of Christ to the peoples who had been ignored." [ [ Address of Benedict XVI to the Jesuits, April 22, 2006] .] As the foremost saint from Navarre and one of the main Jesuit saints, he is very venerated in Spain and the Hispanic countries where "Francisco Javier" or "Javier" are common male given names." [ The most frequent names, simple and exact for the national total and exact for the province of residence] ", Instituto Nacional de Estadística (Spain). Excel spreadsheet format. Javier is the 10th most popular complete name for males, Francisco Javier, the 18th. Javier is the 8th most frequent name for males, either alone or in composition.] As a spin-off, Xavier itself became a male name popular in Portugal, Brazil, France, Belgium, and southern Italy. In Austria and Bavaria the name is spelled as Xaver (pronounced "Ksaber" and often used in addition to Francis as Franz-Xaver. Xavier is one of the few in English. It is also notable that it is common in English-speaking fiction that a character named Francis has the middle initial X (for Xavier). This is possibly attributable to the actor Francis X. Bushman or to Sir Francis Xavier himself. Notable examples are the character of Francis X. Hummel in The Rock and the X-Men character Charles Francis Xavier.

Many churches all over the world have been named in honor of Xavier, often founded by Jesuits. One notable church is the Basilica of St. Francis Xavier in Dyersville, Iowa.

The Javierada is an annual pilgrimage from Pamplona to Xavier instituted in the 1940s.

The Novena of Grace is a popular devotion to Francis Xavier, typically prayed on the 9 days before December 3rd.


Francis Xavier is a Catholic saint. He was beatified by Paul V on October 25, 1619, and was canonized by Gregory XV on March 12, 1622, at the same time as Ignatius Loyola. He is the patron saint of missionaries. His feast day is December 3.

Educational Institutions

Numerous schools named St. Xavier and St. Francis Xavier, most founded by the Jesuits, can be found in many parts of the world. There is also Xavier University, a name which is shared by more than one college in the United States. Xavier University of Louisiana, in New Orleans, is the only college in the United States that is both Catholic and historically Black; it is also the only college in the United States founded by a saint (St. Katherine Drexel). Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio, Saint Xavier High School (also in Cincinnati), and Xavier High School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa have prominent statues of St. Francis Xavier on their campuses and Saint Xavier University in Chicago, Illinois is one of the oldest higher educational centers in that leading Midwestern metropolis. Xavier College, formerly known as St Francis Xavier College, is a jesuit school in Melbourne, Australia also named after Francis Xavier. Xavier College Llandilo, founded in 1999, situates in western Sydney Manchester , England is the home of the famous Xaverian College which is one of the most renowned and successful colleges in the country. Another is the Jesuit Xavier University (Cagayan de Oro) or commonly known as "Ateneo de Cagayan" in Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines; it is the largest school in Northern Mindanao and it also ranked 12th in the Philippines' Top 20 Schools list. St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada is consistently ranked by Maclean's Magazine as the best undergraduate school in the nation [] .

ee also

*Goa Inquisition
*Jesuit China missions
*Catholicism in China
*List of people on stamps of Ireland
*Religion in China
*Jesuit China missions
*Christianity in China
*Exploration of Asia
*Flying Saints
*Roman Catholicism in Japan
*Xavier University of Louisiana

Protestant Missionaries in China

:"See separate article List of Protestant missionaries in China".


* This article incorporates material from the "Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religion"

External links

* [ The life and letters of St. Francis Xavier] Francis Xavier, Saint, 1506-1552 Coleridge, Henry James, 1822-1893 London : Burns and Oates, (1872)
* [ "Xavier's World"] website of Navarre Department of Education celebrating 500th anniversary of their patron saint's birth
* [ Francis Xavier arrives in Japan]
* [ A critical view]
* [ St. Francis Xavier - Pictorial Biography]
* [ "Saint François Xavier"] fr icon
* [ St. Francis of the Millennium]
* [ "The Goa Jesuit Province of the Society of Jesus": The Jesuits in Goa]
* [ "The Feast of St Francis Xavier in Goa"]
* [ of Shangchuan island. The chapel marks the location of his death]
* [ picture of the church on Shangchuan island]
* [ Old map of Shangchuan island]
* [ The Miracles of St Francis Xavier by John Hardon, SJ]
* [ St Francis Xavier: History of His Incorrupt Body]
* [ Brief History of St Francis Xavier]
* [ Saint Francis Xavier] at Patron Saints Index
* [ St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Parkersburg, WV]
* Yomiuri Shimbun: [ St. Francis Xavier -- 90% name recognition amongst primary school students in Japan] , 2008.

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