Saint Francis Xavier
Francis Xavier, St
Xavier's commission from both the king of Portugal and the pope extended to the whole of Asia, and he spent some months of 1546 and 1547 in what is now Indonesia. His primary goal, however, was Japan, and with a Japanese convert and a small band of co-workers landed on Kagoshima on 15 Aug. 1549. Xavier remained in Japan only two years and three months, leaving about 2,000 Christians to the ministrations of fellow Jesuits, after which he returned to Goa and then came back to die on an island near the coast of China on 3 Dec. 1552. His body was taken to Goa, where it is still venerated.
Among Xavier's greatest contributions to the mission to Japan was his deep and growing respect for the Japanese as persons and as bearers of a high culture which could be the foundation of Christian life.
Francis Xavier, Saint
Saint Francis Xavier, 1506–52, Basque Jesuit missionary, called the Apostle to the Indies, b. Spanish Navarre, of noble parents. He studied in Paris (1525–34), where he became an associate of St. Ignatius of Loyola, with whom he and five others took the vow in Montmartre that made them the nucleus of the Society of Jesus (see Jesus, Society of). In 1536–37 he went to Venice, where he worked in the hospitals; he was ordained (1537) there with Ignatius. He worked at Rome with Ignatius for the new order until 1540, when he left for Portugal to join a mission the king was sending to Goa. St. Francis left Lisbon in 1541 with a brief as papal nuncio. At Goa he immediately began to preach and was very successful. After five months he went to the pearl fisheries of W India and spent 15 months on the coast from Ceylon (Sri Lanka) northward. After a second stay in Goa he sailed to Malacca (1545), which he left in 1546 for the Moluccas; in 1547 he went back to Malacca. Meanwhile more Jesuits were coming to India, and St. Francis assigned them to missions he had started. In 1549 he set sail for Japan and landed at Kagoshima. He and his companions remained in Japan for more than two years and set up many Christian communities. He went back to Goa (1552) and set out for China with a Portuguese embassy. On his way he died on the island of Changchuen (St. John). He is buried at Goa. St. Francis was one of the greatest of Christian missionaries; his travels covered many thousands of miles in 11 years, and his successes in preaching and in personal conversion were tremendous. He possessed a singular combination of profound mysticism and common sense. Feast: Dec. 3.
See biography by J. M. Langlois-Berthelot (tr. 1963); study by G. Schurhammer (tr. 1973).