St. Francis Xavier is famous for his missionary work in the Far East during the 16th century, shortly following the opening of Western trade routes in the east. Based in Goa, he worked with an unparalleled apostolic zeal, preaching, converting natives, founding schools and missions, and forming novitiates. He was aided by a number of western priests, but also recruited dozens of talented native believers into the priesthood. He learned numerous languages, translated hundreds of documents into native languages, and worked with a fervor nearly unequaled in missionary history. His enormous productivity, and the hardships under which he work inspired Jesuit missionary activities in foreign missions for years to come.
St. Francis was born in Navarre, a region of northern Spain near the border of France. At age 19 he went to study at the University of Paris and there met Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuits. Ignatius had been a soldier, was older than most other students, and had an apostolic zeal which inspired all who surrounded him. Francis Xavier became one of his earliest followers, and with a group of seven was ordained in 1537. The Jesuit Order was recognized by the pope in 1540, and soon after the King of Portugal sought a priest to lead an evangelical mission to the East Indias. Francis Xavier volunteered for this duty, and in 1541 left Europe for the Far East.
Throughout the following eleven years, Portuguese Goa was his base of operations. He began preaching and converting natives in India. He ministered and preached to the sick in hospitals and gathered children around to hear stories of the gospel. He preached up and down the coast of India, encountering many hardships and persecutions. The bad example of many of the Portuguese sailors tended to retard his efforts, but this only redoubled his effort to set a good example by his works and behavior. After three years Xavier sailed for Malacca, and continuted his labors on nearby islands. It is thought he may have traveled as far north as the Philipines. In Malacca he met a Japanese native named Anjiro who told him fascinating tales about the Island country. Xavier resolved to establish a missionary presence in Japan, but first returned to Goa to attend to administrative matters, including the founding of a novitiate.
Xavier landed in Japan in 1549 with Anjiro and several other priests. The first year was spent learning the language and preparing materials for preaching and catechizing. For two more years he preached in Japan and founded a few Christian communities which grew rapidly after his departure. In 1552 he returned to Goa and began to plan a missionary trip to China, but fell sick and died en route the the Celestial Kingdom. He made thousands of converts and left hundreds of growing Christian communities in his wake. He still considered the most successful missionary after Paul the Apostle.
|Born into an aristocratic family in the Kingdom of Navarre.|
|Traveled to Venice after the death of his father.|
|Went to study at the University of Paris.|
|Met Ignatious Loyola.|
|With seven other, made the vow of the first Jesuits.|
|Ordained into the Priesthood.|
|Agrees to lead and evangelican mission to the East Indies.|
|Arrived at Goa, in India.|
|Traveled to Malacca and visted nearby islands.|
|Returned to Goa. Planned missionary trip to Japan.|
|Established a Jesuit novitiate and ordained native priests.|
|Established missions in Japan with the aid of several native speakers.|
|Returned to Goa and began planning a mission to China.|
|Died en route to China.|
|Christianity in Japan in||The Story of Japan by R. Van Bergen|
|in||Japan: Peeps at History by John Finnemore|
|Manchus and Europeans in||China's Story by William E. Griffis|
|Apostle of the Japanese in||The Book of Saints and Heroes by Mrs. Lang|
|Progress of Christianity in Japan in||Historical Tales: Japanese and Chinese by Charles Morris|
|India, Africa, and America in||Saint Ignatius of Loyola by John Hungerford Pollen, S.J.|
Sts. Ignatius and Francis Xavier at the University of Paris
in Life of St. Ignatius
St. Fancis Xavier teaches the Japanese children their Catechism
in The Book of Saints and Heroes
The Miracles of St. Francis Xavier
in History of the Church: Early Modern Times
|Founder of the Jesuits order, dedicated to the Pope. Important counter-reformation figure.|
|King of Portugal who supported the Jesuit missions in the East|
|Japanese native who assisted St. Xavier in his missions in Japan. Baptized as Paulo de Santa Fe.|