Francis Xavier, St

views updated May 09 2018

Francis Xavier, St (1506–52). Spanish Roman Catholic (Jesuit) priest and missionary to Asia, canonized, 1622: feast day 3 Dec. Xavier was won over by his Basque fellow countryman, Ignatius Loyola, to become one of the original band of the Society of Jesus (he was one of those who took vows with him at Montmartre in 1534). Xavier committed himself to obey the pope's command to serve in the already vast and growing overseas colonies of Portugal and sailed for India on 7 Apr. 1541, arriving in Goa a year later.

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

views updated Jun 08 2018

Francis Xavier, Saint (1506–52) Early Jesuit missionary, often called the Apostle to the Indies. He was an associate of St Ignatius of Loyola, with whom he took the vow founding the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). From 1541 he travelled through India, Japan, and the East Indies, making many converts. He died while on a journey to China. His feast day is December 3.

Xavier, St Francis

views updated May 29 2018

Xavier, St Francis (1506–52), Spanish Catholic missionary; known as the Apostle of the Indies. One of the original seven Jesuits, from 1540 he travelled to southern India, Sri Lanka, Malacca, the Moluccas, and Japan, making thousands of converts. His feast day is 3 December.

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Saint Francis Xavier