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Francis Xavier

Francis Xavier was born on the 7th of April in 1506 to an aristocratic and a wealthy family in Navarre, Spain. At the age of 19, Xavier went to Paris where he studied at the College de Sainte-Barbe and where he received his licence ès arts in 1530. As a student, Xavier enjoyed his upper class way of life and spent money and gambled a lot. But during his final year in university around 1529, he met and befriended a mature and a spiritual Ignatius Loyala, who was 15 years his senior and who, like him, also had a similar upbringing. Under Loyala's influence and guidance, Xavier learned to change his ways. And on August 15, 1534, on the feast of the Assumption, Xavier and six others including his roommate Pierre Favre made religious vows at Montmartre to devote their lives to the Catholic Church by spreading Christianity and the word of God. This group would soon be formed into the Society of Jesus and eventually be recognized as the first Jesuits missionaries who traveled to the east to preach the word of God and to spread Christianity.

On June 24, 1537, Xavier was ordained as a priest with Ignatius Loyola and a few years later, he was appointed by the King of Portugal to evangelize the people of the East Indies. So, on April 7, 1541, Xavier departed Lisbon with two other Jesuits to Goa in India, which was at that time the capital of Portuguese colonies. In Goa, he spent his first five months preaching and caring for the sick in the hospitals and then headed to Western India to convert a few thousands into Christianity. However, he was not too pleased with the results, so he turned eastward in 1545 and planned a missionary to Malacca, which is located today on the island of Celebes in Indonesia. In Malacca, Xavier preached for a few months and then began yet another journey eastward towards the Molucca Islands. He preached and converted many in the Molucca Islands before heading back to Malacca a year later.

In December 1547, Xavier met a Japanese man named Anjiro from Kagoshima. Anjiro had heard about Xavier and had traveled from Kagoshima to Malacca to meet him. After their meeting, Xavier baptized Anjiro in Goa and gave him the name, Pablo de Santa Fe. And then, they both decided to travel to Japan and spread Christianity there. However, upon reaching there, Xavier had trouble speaking the Japanese language. So, he spent a year learning the language and translating his message into Japanese with the help of Pablo de Santa Fe. When he finally learned the language, he was able to preach and convert a few people to Christianity.

In early 1552, Xavier left Japan to Goa leaving Father Cosme de Torres and Brother Juan Fernandez in charge of his mission. Now, his new mission was to go to China, a place which at that time was forbidden to foreigners. So, in April 1552, Xavier left Goa aboard the Santa Cruz ship and reached the coast of China. However, before he could reach mainland China, he died on December 2, 1552 at age 46. He was buried on Shangchuan Dao's beach but then; his body was removed in February 1553 and taken to Malacca and was temporarily buried there in St. Paul Church on March 22, 1553. On December 11, 1553, Xavier's body, which had resisted decay and was intact, was shipped to Goa. It is now in the Basilica of Bom Jesus in Goa where it was placed into a silver casket on December 3, 1637. Relics were also sent to the Professed House of the Jesuits in 1613 and in 1622; Francis Xavier was canonized with Saint Ignatius Loyala. Today, Francis Xavier is the patron saint of Goa, Australia, Borneo, China, East Indies, Japan and New Zealand. And there have also been numerous churches built in his honor. Saint Francis Xavier's feast day falls every year on the 3rd of December.

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