Saint Francis Xavier (Part 2)




And if you wish to bring forth much fruit, both for yourselves and for your neighbours, and to live consoled, converse with sinners, making them unburden themselves to you. These are the living books by which you are to study, both for your preaching and for your own consolation. I do not say that you should not on occasion read written books... to support what you say against vices with authorities from the Holy Scriptures and examples from the lives of the saints






In 1545, Saint Francis left India and travelled to Portuguese Malacca where he worked and preached for about five months. He then left and travelled by ship to the Maluku Islands, home to several Portugeuse settlements and preached the Gospel for almost two years. He then returned to Malacca. On his return trip to Malacca in December of 1547, he met a Japanese man named Anjiro that had travelled from Kagoshima to meet Saint Francis. He had fled Japan having being accused of murder and converted to Christianity with Saint Francis, taking on the Christian name of Paulo de Santa Fe. Saint Francis returned with companions to Goa in 1548, staying for 15 months and preparing for his journey.


Saint Francis, Anjiro, two Japanese men, Father Cosme de Torres and Brother Juan Fernandez left Goa in April of 1543 and headed to Canton, bringing presents for the so called "King of Japan". In his letter To His Companions Residing in Rome, From Cochin January 20 1548, Saint Frances wrote:


"I asked a Portuguese merchant, ... who had been for many days in Anjirō's country of Japan, to give me ... some information on that land and its people from what he had seen and heard. ...All the Portuguese merchants coming from Japan tell me that if I go there I shall do great service for God our Lord, more than with the pagans of India, for they are a very reasonable people.

The group reached Japan on July 27th, 1549 but were not allowed to leave the ship and enter Japan until August 15th. They came ashore at Kagoshima, the main port in the Japanese Island of Kyushu and were received in a friendly manner by the daimyo of Satsuma, Shimazu Atakahisa. He stayed with Anjiro's family until October 1550 and for the next few months afterwards lived in Yamaguchi. He visited Kyoto shortly before Christmas but was unable to meet with the Emperor. While preaching, he was met with heavy resistance from the Japanese Buddhist and Shinto monks. The language barrier also proved to be a difficult obstacle, though he had brought paintings of the Blessed Mary and Child Jesus.


He returned to India in 1551, though was temporarily held over on an island near Guangzhou China due to a storm. It was here he met with an old friend from Cochin, Diogo Pereira who showed Saint Francis a letter from Portuguese prisoners in Guangzhou and asked Saint Francis to meet with the Emperor on their behalf. He returned to Goa in 1552 and immediately prepared to sail again for China, which he did on April 17th on the Santa Cruz with Diogo.


Shortly into the voyage however, he realized that the testimonial letters as Apostolic Nuncio had been left behind and was confronted by Alvaro de Ataide da Gama in Malacca who refused to recognize Saint Francis's title without proof. Alvaro had the ship siezed and took the gifts that had originally been intended for the Emperor. He returned the ship to Saint Francis, but had a new crew installed. Finally, in late August 1552, the Santa Cruz reached Shangchuan, an island off the coast of China. In November, he wrote a letter saying that he had found someone who would take him to the mainland to meet with the Emperor. Unfortunately Saint Francis would never be able to take that trip, as while he waited for the boat to arrive, he died from fever at Shangchuan China on December 3rd, 1552.


Saint Francis was originally buried on the beach at Shangchuan but his body was recovered in February of 1553 and reburied at Saint Paul's church in Malacca. Pereira travelled from Goa to Malacca in April of 1553, retrieved the body and had it shipped back to Goa. It was then placed in the Basilica of Born Jesus in Goa in a silver casket on December 2nd, 1637. There are 32 silver plates on all four sides depicting different episodes from the life of Saint Francis.





Pope Paul V beatified Saint Francis on October 25th, 1619 and Pope Gregory XV officially canonized him on March 12th, 1622 alongside Saint Ignatius of Loyola. Pope Pius XI declared Saint Francis to be the Patron Saint of Catholic Missions with a feast day set for December 3rd. To this day, Francisco Javier or Javier are common male names in Spain and Hispanic countries in honor of his name.




4 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All