A scion of a noble Basque family, Francis was born at the castle of Xavier in Spanish Navarre in 1506. He was educated in Paris (where he taught philosophy after obtaining his Master of Arts degree) and, with Ignatius of Loyola, became one of the group of seven men who took vows as the first members of the Society of Jesus, or Jesuits. The seven at first decided to go to the Holy Land, but a war between Venice and the Turks preventing this, Francis labored in Padua, Bologna and Rome. From Lisbon he sailed for Goa, on the west coast of India, in 1541. He traveled throughout the East Indies, evangelizing and establishing the Church in southern India, Ceylon, Malacca, Malaya and notably in Japan, where he left behind two thousand converts. He had just reached China when he died on board ship in December in the year 1552.
- Adapted from Celebrating the Saints (compiled by Robert Atwell), with additions.
God our Father, by the preaching of Francis Xavier you brought many nations to yourself. Give his zeal for the faith to all who believe in you, that your Church may rejoice in continued growth throughout the world. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
The propers for the commemoration of Francis Xavier, Priest and Missionary, are published on the US Conference of Catholic Bishops website.
Besides his commemoration in the Roman Catholic Church, Francis Xavier is commemorated in the sanctoral calendars of the Church of England, the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Church in Wales and the Anglican Church of Canada.