by: The Reverend Mary McCue
When Francis Xavier was at College Saints Barbe in Paris in 1529, he got a roommate -Ignatius of Loyola.
Thus was an historic partnership formed. Ignatius persuaded Francis to a life of
Christ. The two formed the Society of Jesus – the Jesuits.
Born in Navarre, Spain in 1506, Francis’s well to do parents lost most of their
wealth in wars between Navarre and Aragon. They were still able to send him
to college, though, and he enrolled in 1526. He was ordained a priest in 1537. King John of Portugal asked the Pope for missionaries to send to his territories. Francis became one by accident. Another priest became ill.
Francis took his place and was sent to India to restart Christianity among Portuguese settlers there. He evangelized in India, and became the first Christian to venture into Japan, Borneo, the Maluka Islands and other places.
He served for 45 years in Asia, and began missionary work in China, where he died in 1552 at age 46. He was entombed in Goa, but his followers cut off his right arm – which he had used to bless the faithful - and sent it to Rome.
There, it was venerated, and toured around the world. He is credited with being one of the greatest missionaries since St. Paul. On this, his feast day, let us give thanks for the work of Francis Xavier, Apostle of Japan, Apostle of
the Indies and, with Therese of Lisieux, co-patron saint of all foreign missions.
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The Rev. Charles Hoffacker is a retired priest of the Diocese of Washington