On December 3rd, the Church remembers the life of St. Francis Xavier, a successful missionary and pious man who would come to be known as the apostle to the East. After encountering Ignatius of Loyola, Francis Xavier would become one of the first Jesuits, and would spend much of his life spreading the Gospel and teaching the faith to children. We, who are called to spread the Gospel in our own everyday lives, call to mind the actions of this zealous saint.
A Brief Biography of St. Francis Xavier
In 1506, Francis Xavier was born in Spain, to a noble family of the Basque region. In time, Francis was sent to the collège de Sainte-Barbe (college of St. Barbara) in Paris. An intelligent young man, Francis became a teacher in philosophy after completing his studies. His career in academics looked highly promising.
However, a companion working on God’s behalf would guide him in another direction. Francis was 24 when he first met St. Ignatius of Loyola, who was already in the process of developing the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). Tirelessly, Ignatius persuaded Francis to live for the Lord, often repeating to him these words of Christ: “What profit is it to a man if he gain the whole world, but lose his soul?” (Mk 16:26). Finally, Ignatius won the young man to Christ and in 1534, taking a vow of poverty, chastity, and apostolic service, Francis joined the newly formed Society of Jesus. He was ordained a priest in 1537.
Most of the rest of his life was spent as a traveling missionary. He ventured into many countries and into impoverished and rough communities in order to spread the Word of God. He was most successful in doing so, converting and baptizing thousands. He had dreams of traveling to preach in China, but before this could take place, he fell ill and died on the island of Sancian in 1552.
To read more about St. Francis Xavier, go here.