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St. Francis Xavier (December 3)

One of the greatest missionaries of the Church, St Francis Xavier was born near Pamplona, Spain at the castle of Xavier on April 7, 1506. He entered the University of Paris in 1524 and received his degree of licentiate from the College of St Barbara in 1528. While at St Barbara, Francis befriended St Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits. He was among the first companions of Ignatius and was present with six others who took their vows in 1534 at Montmartre. 

Appointed apostolic nuncio to the East, Francis left for India in 1541. After a long voyage and much hardship, he arrived at Goa on May 6, 1542. For eleven years, Francis labored along the coast of India and in Japan. During his travels he would visit Cape Comorin, Malacca, the Moluccas, near New Guinea, and Montai, near the Philippines.

In village after village he preached the Gospel, struggling to learn the native languages and living simply on the food available to him. Along the Indian coast he baptized and instructed great numbers of native Christians who had been ill-treated by the European colonists. On August 15, 1549, Francis entered Japan. With the aid of some Japanese converts he had a translation made of Christian teaching. A small nucleus of Christians was converted and these became the faithful foundation of the Church in Japan.

Longing to bring the Gospel to China, a land then forbidden to foreigners, Francis made his way to Sancian, a small island near Hong Kong, but before he could embark on his new venture, he took ill and died on December 3, 1552. St Francis is the patron of foreign missions.