St. Francis Xavier
SAINT FRANCIS XAVIER (1506-1552)
46 years at a glance
1506: The sixth and last child
is born to Dr. Joao de Xavier and Maria d'Aspilcueta
at the Xaviercastle (Navarra-Spain) on April 7. The
boy is named Francis.
1512: Navarra is attacked by Spain and declared
its province. The father of young Francis is not able
to survive such a disgrace and dies four months later.
1514: After continuous wars, peace is declared
and people accept the sovereignty of Spain.
1525: Eighteen year old Francis leaves his ancestral
home and is on the way to France for studies in the
world renowned University of Paris.
1529: In the College of Barbara, Francis shares
his room with Pedro Fabro and Inigo de Loiola who would
be later instrumental in changing the attitude of Francis
by dinning into his ear the famous words of Jesus: What
does it profit a man to gain the whole world if he loses
his own soul?
1534: The converted Francis joins Inigo, with
some other friends; they all promise to serve Jesus
in poverty and chastity.
1537: After leaving Paris the previous year,
they go to Rome to be blessed by the Pope before their
pilgrimage to the Holy Land (Jerusalem). On June 24,
Francis is ordained priest together with Inacio (Inigo),
Lainez, Rodrigues, Bobadilha and Coduri. They preach
and nurse the sick in the city. They form a society
under the banner of their Lord and Captain, Jesus.
1538: Unable to go to the Holy Land due to the
war, they present themselves to the Pope ready to go
anywhere, to be always at his disposal. The foundation
of a permanent society is proposed and the Rule is presented
to the Pope for approval.
1539: At the request of the King of Portugal,
one member is chosen to go to distant India, but he
falls terribly sick and Francis is asked to take his
1540: After a long journey Francis reaches Lisbon,
accompanied by the Portuguese Ambassador D. Pedro Mascarenhas.
1541: Our zealous Francis embarks for India on
April 7, in the company of the new Governor D. Martim
Afonso. The Pope had appointed Francis his Nuncio, for
the remote East.
1542: Francis lands in Goa after a long and strenuous
voyage of eight months. He visits first the Bishop who
is highly pleased with Francis' humility in spite of
his being the Pontifical Nuncio. Leaving aside the special
invitations of both the Governor and the Bishop, he
chooses the Royal Hospital for his residence and spends
his days nursing the sick and teaching Christian doctrine.
1542: A new institute named College of St. Paul
had been established in Goa for the priestly formation
of local candidates. Francis was requested to hold the
rectorship of this College; but his heart was longing
for the souls who had never a chance to listen to the
message of Jesus. Soon after the monsoons, he leaves
for Cochin, the most important Portuguese province next
1543: Francis preaches the Gospel to the Paravas
of the fishery coast who lived by pearl fishing. In
Francis returns to Goa to meet his confreres and to
obtain funds from the Vice-Roy for the establishment
of catechists in the villages. Due to insistent requests,
he stays at the College of St. Paul. In December, he
goes again to Cochin.
1544: He organizes the missionary work in these
regions with great zeal; he is respected by the people
as a saintly priest.
1545: Francis pays homage to St. Thomas the Apostle,
visiting his tomb. He spends the day preaching and caring
for the sick and praying at the Apostle's tomb during
the night. Francis leaves for Malacca in August. He
translates the important articles of faith for the benefit
of local people. At the same time he collects all possible
information about Japan and China.
1547: After many visits to the surrounding areas
where he had preached Jesus Christ with great success,
he returns to Malacca where more missionaries had come
at his request.
1548: Francis returns to Goa. His attention had
been drawn towards Japan since he had met the Japanese
Angero who described the situation with minute details.
There were already three Japanese students in the College
of St. Paul. Francis stays only nine days in Goa; thereafter
he proceeds to Bassein and meets the Governor D. Joao
de Castro in order to discuss some missionary problems.
In April, he returns to Goa and sends more priests to
Malacca. He is busy planning his visit to Japan; at
the same time he takes keen interest in the formation
of the students of College of St. Paul.
1548: The monsoons prevents him from going to
Cape Comorin but he goes there in October and is welcomed
with great joy by the Paravas. He advises Fr. Henriques
to compose a Tamil grammar for the study of the local
language. By the end of November, Francis is back in
1549: The time has come to go to Japan. Francis
takes leave of all his brothers at St. Paul. Many tears
are shed and many express their wish to join Francis.
Our "traveling priest" Francis goes to Japan
but his attention turns now and then to the College
of St. Paul which was the scene of many troubles caused
by Fr. Antonio Gomes. On August 15, Francis treads for
the first time on Japanese soil.
1550: Francis studies the Japanese people and
their religion. While the people are all ears to him,
many difficulties are created by the bonzes. He learns
the Japanese language and summarizes the Christian doctrine,
in that language.
1551: Francis visits the King of Bungo, a Japanese
island. The King appreciates very much the Christian
doctrine, so much so that he abandons his bonzes and
favours Francis, as well as his friends. Francis plans
a trip to China; it is a must for him. At the same time
he looks after the needs of different missions, sending
missionaries from Goa. He maintains regular epistolary
contact with all the missionaries and specially with
his Superior Inacio de Loiola.
1552: Francis reaches Goa in February, with two
Japanese companions. He is accorded a royal welcome
at the College of St. Paul. He spends only two months
in this College but his words and actions leave indelible
marks in the hearts of all.
April: Francis leaves for China accompanied by
Fr. Gago, Bro. Alvaro Ferreira, the Chinese Antonio
de Santa Fe and the Indian servant Cristovao. During
this voyage he visits the missions of Cochin and Malacca.
From Singapore they go to the island of Sangchwan on
the way to China.
November: His friends try to persuade him to
cancel his trip to China but Francis would not change
his mind; he is ready to face any danger for the sake
of Christ. He is left alone on the island of Sangchwan
with Antonio and Cristovao. A Chinese merchant had promised
to take him to China but he never came.
December: Francis is seized with fever; his health
deteriorates rapidly. Antonio sees that the moment has
come and puts the crucifix into the hands of dying Francis.
Early in the morning of December 3, Francis sleeps for
ever in the peace of Christ, worn out and white haired
from his strenuous life, at the young age of 46.
"Throughout his stay in the East, he kept in touch
with local wants and developments and proffered necessary
advice and guidance. His heart was burning with the
love of God and men; but his head was ever busy with
the work of building the Church on stable foundations,
throughout the East... his insistence on colleges, where,
both secular and clerical learning would be imparted,
and where native priests would receive the necessary
training, is an example of his foresight. Humble and
meek as he was in his life and conduct, he knew when
to be firm and stern, especially to men in power, whether
civil or ecclesiastical, who thwarted his designs."
He was above all, a man who prayed intensely.