St Francis Xavier

The life of St Francis Xavier

Francis Xavier was born on April 7th, 1506, in a castle near Sangüesa in Navarre (part of present-day Spain).

With encouragement from his friend Ignatius of Loyola, Xavier devoted himself to religious service and became one of the founders of the Jesuit order.

In 1540, at the request of King John III of Portugal, St Ignatius chose two of the companions to make the perilous journey to India to serve in mission there. However, when one of the original two fell ill, Xavier stepped in with less than 48 hours’ notice.

He spent the remaining years of his life working to bring Christianity to places as diverse as India and Japan. He never returned to Europe. He died on Sancian Island, near Canton, on December 3rd, 1552. He was 46 years old.

As his work progressed, he became more receptive to the diverse cultures he encountered and more aware of the richness of God’s presence in all things and people.

The work of Jesuit Missions celebrates the Jesuit tradition of reaching out to cultures around the world to celebrate our shared humanity, encourage solidarity and uphold human dignity.

A letter from St Francis Xavier

“May God our Lord grant us in time the gift to perceive his holy will. He wishes that we should always be ready to fulfil it whenever he manifests it to us and lets us feel it within our souls. To fare well in this life, we must be pilgrims, ready to go wherever we can serve God our Lord the more.”

– sent to Francisco Mansilhas SJ from Negapatam, India, on 7 April 1545