St. Francis Xavier

Today the Catholic Church celebrates the Memorial of St. Francis Xavier, patron saint of foreign missions. Born in Spain and educated in Paris, he was one of the group who, with St. Ignatius of Loyola, founded the Society of Jesus. In 1541, he was one of the first Jesuit missionaries to be sent to the Far East, where he spent the rest of his life preaching, baptizing and establishing Christian communities. He spent time in India, the Phillipines and Japan, converting tens of thousands to Christianity. Although there was much working against him – language barriers, inadequte money, resistance, to name a few – he had an extraordinary zeal for his work. In the words of one biographer,

Holy zeal may properly be said to have formed the character of St. Francis Xavier. Consumed with an insatiable thirst of the salvation of souls and of the dilatation of the honour and kingdom of Christ on earth, he ceased not with tears and prayers to conjure the Father of all men not to suffer those to perish whom he had created in his own divine image, made capable of knowing and loving him, and redeemed with the adorable blood of his Son… He rejoiced in afflictions and sufferings, and said that one who had once experienced the sweetness of suffering for Christ, will ever after find it worse than death to live without a cross. By humility the saint was always ready to follow the advice of others, and attributed all blessings to their prayers which he most earnestly implored.

St. Francis Xavier, pray for us.

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