Monday, December 3, 2018

His Word Today: Saint Francis Xavier

Good morning everyone,

If you ever have a chance to travel to Goa - located on the western coast of India - take the time to visit the Cathedral of Saint Catherine.  There, you will find the tomb of one of the most well-known Jesuit saints.  Today, we remember and pray with this great Saint who was born in Javier, a municipality located in the autonomous community of Navarre (Northern Spain).

Francisco Javier was born on 7 April 1506.  In his early 20s, while studying at the Coll├Ęge Sainte-Barbe, part of the University of Paris, he met Ignatius of Loyola who was a fellow student who was 10 years his senior.  In fact, it was Ignatius who eventually encouraged Francisco to consider becoming a priest.  In 1534, Francisco was one of seven students who met in a crypt beneath the church of Saint Denis, located on the hill of Montmartre where they took vows to go to the Holy Land to convert infidels.  Francois began his study of theology in 1534 and was ordained a priest on 24 June 1537.  A few years later - in 1539, after long discussions, Ignatius drew up a formula for a new religious order: the Society of Jesus (known as the Jesuits). Ignatius's plan for the order was approved by Pope Paul III in 1540.

On many occasions, the gospels recount the fact that Jesus travelled to various locations, including Capernaum, where he met a centurion who pled with him on behalf of one of his servants (cf Mt 8:5).  In response to this need for help, Jesus opened his heart.  Francisco too was willing to open his heart and to respond to the call of the Lord to travel far and wide in order to share the good news of the gospel.  In fact, Francisco led an extensive mission into Asia, mainly throughout the Portuguese Empire.  He was influential in evangelization efforts, most notably in India.  He was also the first Christian missionary to venture into Japan, Borneo, the Maluku Islands and other areas.  He struggled to learn the local languages and faced much opposition in these other lands, and was not as successful in preaching the gospel there.  Francisco was about to extend his missionary preaching to China when he died on Shangchuan Island.

He was beatified by Pope Paul V on 25 October 1619 and canonized by Pope Gregory XV on 12 March 1622.  Even today, through his intercession, we ask the Lord to be present to those who continue the work of evangelization.

Have a great day.

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