St. Francis Xavier
Welcome to the first installment of KNOW YOUR SAINTS! a Sunday blog that features a saint whose feast day is celebrated during the following week.
Thanks for joining me!
What separates this blog from the other ‘saint of the day’ sort of places is that in my writing, I seek to get to know the saint personally through prayer, and then present him or her to you in a way that I feel, after the course of a week, that they would like to be portrayed. This is your personal invitation to get to know these victorious men and women of God, and to participate in this blog! I ask you to not only share your own experiences with or knowledge of the featured saint, but to also choose next week’s subject! Every week at the end of the post, you’ll see a place where you can vote for one of seven saints whose feast days encompass that week.
Now, without further to do…
Feast day Dec 3rd
St. Francis Xavier was born in the family castle of Xavier in present day Javier, Spain, which is close to the French border. Close enough, in fact, that there was much fighting over who exactly owned that land at the time. Francis’ father and brother were both struck down in battle before he went to the University of Paris to study Philosophy at the age of 24. He was ordained a priest in 1538 in Venice, thanks to the promptings of his friend, mentor, and fellow saint, Ignatius of Loyola. Three years later in Rome, Francis, Ignatius, and five others founded the Society of Jesus, whose members are today known as the Jesuits. Ignatius stayed in Rome to solidify this new order, while Francis went out to bring souls to God.
Francis knew there was a great need for priests in the East. This is where he was called to be, and he never went back. At this time, the Portuguese were colonizing… well they were trying to colonize the entire world, but Francis first found himself in India, where the Portuguese settlers were not giving Christianity a good name. The adults not only were lapsed Catholics, but they were so bad as to be abhorrent to the natives. They hired prostitutes, gambled, drank, and basically embodied Charlie Sheen’s character in Two and a Half Men. So Francis, knowing it would be futile for him to try and reform these creatures himself, catechized the children. And the children, oh the children! They became his heavenly hellions (is that a thing? Can that be a thing now, please?) – They were relentless with their questions so that the man didn’t have time for his own devotions, they tore down idols and blasphemous statues, then told off and told on the adults, so that they became ashamed of their actions. Francis knew that heaven belonged to these children hungry for God, and knowing that the Faith was safe with the next generation, continued on his missionary journey.
The man went everywhere: India, Mozambique, New Guinea, the Philippines, and Japan. Most of the places he traveled had already seen a few missionaries thanks to the trade routes of the Portuguese. There were Christians, but in name only. They were very open to the faith; there simply wasn’t anyone to teach them. Francis filled that void, and over the course of his decade long journey, converted and baptized tens of thousands.
It was in Japan that he had the most difficulty. Japan had yet seen few from the west, and none that wanted to do more than trade goods. Here he encountered the worst language barrier, Japanese being so different from the languages he had heard before. Francis was undaunted, however, and resorted to simply reading from a translated Catechism, using images and paintings of Christ and Our Lady, and playing the game of charades here and there. Whatever he did worked, as he is today the patron saint of Japan.
In 1552, Francis Xavier died on the Island of Sancian of a fever, falling short of China, his intended goal. During his lifetime, God conducted Francis not only to use his words and wisdom to convert souls, but also allowed him to work many miracles, including raising one who was dead and bilocation, Francis being sure to attribute the glory to God. He was canonized in 1622. Francis wished that people worked as hard at learning the Catechism as they did at their university studies. He may have been recalling his own youth, as Ignatius had asked him “Francis, what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and yet lose his soul?” After this question changed his life, Francis went on to gain not only his own soul, but also the souls of thousands.
Dear St. Francis Xavier, thank you for letting us get to know you better. As you gained many souls for God on your journeys, pray that we may regain our own souls as well as the souls of those fallen away as we take our own journey to Christ during Advent. Pray that we find our mission in life, and live it to Christ’s fullest expectations of us. Amen.
Join me next week as we get to know… Who? You decide! Be sure to vote below for next week’s featured saint, and be sure to sign up to get an e-mail every time this blog updates (hopefully a bit earlier every Sunday, ahem). Do you have a personal connection to this saint? Or did I leave out a vital bit of information? Be sure to let me know in the comments! Until then, KNOW YOUR SAINTS!