On the 03rd of December every year, the Catholic Church commemorates the memory of Saint Francis Xavier (1506-1552), one of the most illustrious missionaries of the second millennium. No sea was dangerous for him, no nationalities were foreign to him, no language was a barrier for him, in fact, Jesus Christ was his compass, boats were his vehicles which carried him from Rome to Lisbon to Goa - India, to Moluccas - Indonesia, to Yamaguchi -Japan and finally to Sancian - China. All this Xavier did in the 16th century, that too, in just 11 years from 1541 to1552. In his 10 years of life in Asia as the first Jesuit provincial of Goa he did the unimaginable work by planting the seeds of Christianity in so many parts. Here is a short description on his life and work.
I. Birth in a Noble Family
In the great castle of the Xaviers, situated in the frontiers of Navarra, still an independent nation, is born Francis on April 7th 1506, the fifth and last child of Juan of Jassu, an important person in the court of Navarra, and Maria de Azpilcueta, also of a noble and rich family of the kingdom. From his early infancy Francis reveals himself as a happy and intelligent child and still at a tender age he is educated and, at the same time, in a solid Christian faith.
Francis’ youth life is upset by the political events of the time: in 1515, the war between Castilla-Aragón and France involves Navarra, which at the end is invaded and incorporated into the Kingdom of Casttilla. The patriots of Navarra, among whom two elder brothers of Francis, fight along with the French and conquer Pamplona in 1521, where, with the forces on behalf of Spaniards, Iñigo de Loyola was fighting. The war ends with the definitive victory of the Spaniards. The brothers of Francis, lined up with the independentists become losers: the properties of the family are at the mercy of invaders, which ruins the prestige, and the economic comfort of the family.
"The house of Xaviers is one of the oldest and brightest ones of the kingdom of Navarra: its master has lordly sovereignty without having any obligation of giving tribute or homage to the King or to the Crown of Navarra, exception made to going to war or making peace under his command, as a result of old titles and privileges. Since ancient times the house of Xaviers has the right of asylum. (…) The house of Xaviers had in different times Lords of great honour, many of whom were governors of the kingdom, or had other important assignments at the court of the king." (From a document of the court of Sangüesa, c.1480)
II. Unexpected Meeting in Paris, France
When Francis is eighteen years old, he goes to study at the University of Paris and takes lodging in the College of Saint Barbara. While attending the university (studies philosophy and theology), Francis doesn't refuse a lavish life, while demonstrating himself as a sociable and sportive character. His ambition was to undertake ecclesiastical career – (was aspiring to be a Canon at the Cathedral of Pamplona) a dream that didn’t look difficult to realize.
Francis lives with his great friend Peter Faber, in a room and a strange limping man of 40 years named Ignatius, joins them (the old foe of Francis’ brothers, who by now changed the name Iñigo into the latin Ignatius). By speaking little by little of God, Inigo forms a small group of young students, among whom is Faber, attracted by the ideal to follow Christ radically. Francis, who resisted for long, joins the group after making spiritual exercises and has no more interests to seek the deceptive honours of the world but only the glory of God and the good of man and woman.
On the feast of Assumption of Mary (15th August) in 1534, all the seven of the group take the vows in the Chapel of Montmartre the outskirts of Paris, to serve Christ in poverty, chastity and to go to Jerusalem. And they decide if this is not possible to go to the Holy Land then they would travel to Rome and put themselves at the disposition of the Pope.
God, Creator and Lordwho called Saint Francis Xavierto announce your saving wordto the ends of the earth,renew in me the desireto seek only your greater gloryby humbly following Christ,so that my life becomesa living gospel.May every Christian community,enflamed by your Holy Spiritto imitate this first companionof Saint Ignatius,burn with the same missionary fire,so that all people,abandoning the seduction of the world,may participate in the giftof the resurrection,in the sure hope of eternal life.Through Jesus Christ our Lord.℟. Amen.