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December 3

Saint Francis Xavier Conversion of Paravas in 1542 - December 3

Saint Francis Xavier

Priest, Missionary

“Apostle of East Indies”

(1506 – 1552)

“Many, many people hereabouts are not becoming Christians for one reason only: there is nobody to make them Christians.

Saint Francis Xavier

Saint’s Life Story

His Early Life in Spain 

Francis Xavier was born on April 7, 1506 at the family castle of Xavier near Pamplona in Javier, Navarre (present day Spain) to a Spanish-Basque family.  At age 18, he went to study philosophy at the University of Paris. Four years later, Francis received his doctorate. 

Started Jesuits with Saint Ignatious Loyola

While at the university, Francis met Saint Ignatious Loyola. Despite initial opposition to St Ignatius Loyola’s ideas, Francis was won over and he was one of seven Jesuits who took their vows at Montmarte in 1534. Franics was ordained in 1537 in Venice, Italy. 

Pope Approves of Society of Jesus Order

In 1540, Francis went with Saint Ignatius to Rome, where the Pope formally approved the Society of Jesus order. In that same year, Francis and Father Simon Rodriguez were sent as the first missionaries to the East Indies. They both stopped off at Lisbon, Portugal where King Juan (John) III kept them as guest. Francis left for the Orient on April 7, 1541 with an appointment from the Pope as apostolic nuncio to the Indies.

Missionary in Goa

Thirteen months later in May 1542, Francis arrived in Goa and spent the next 5 months preaching and ministering to the sick and imprisoned as well as teaching children. Francis worked to correct the immorality of the Portuguese there, especially denouncing the practice of concubinage so prevalent in the city among Westerners. 

Missionary Travels Continue 

Francis then spent 3 years at Cape Comorin at the southern tip of India opposite Ceylon (Sri Lanka). Francis ministered to the Paravas, baptizing them by the thousands. He was more successful among the lower castes of Indian society than the upper (or Brahman) caste. Francis and the other Jesuits experienced much difficulties among the Portuguese and Europeans whose exploitation of the native population they found unacceptable. Francis travels included Malacca in 1545, Moluccas, near New Guinea and Morotai, near the Philippines in 1546 through 1547. 

Missionary Work in Japan

In 1549, Francis travels via ship took him to Japan. He studied Japanese at Kagoshima and then set out to Kyoto. Through 1551, he taught and drew many converts. Francis became the first provincial of India and the East in 1551. Francis left the local community in the hands of a Portuguese priest and left Japan in 1552.

His Death

Francis set out for China, where he had always dreamed of evangelizing, in 1552. He first went to Goa and then embarked for China, where foreigners were forbidden. Francis landed on the island of Shangchwan whil awaiting for the Chinese junk that was to take him secretly to China. However he fell ill and died in a small hut on the island on December 2, 1552 before he ever could enter the mainland of China.

“Apostle of East Indies”

Francis’ body was taken back to Goa, where it is enshrined in the church of the Good Jesus. Francis is called the “Apostle of Japan” and the “Apostle of the East Indies”. He was declared patron all foreign missions by Pope Saint Pius X and his feast day is December 3.

Beatified:             October 25, 1619 by Pope Paul V

Canonized:          March 12, 1622 by Pope Gregory XV

Feast Day:           December 3

Patron Saint:      Foreign Missions



All of us are called to “go and preach to all nations”—see Matthew 28:19. Our preaching is not necessarily on distant shores but to our families, our children, our husband or wife, our coworkers. And we are called to preach not with words, but by our everyday lives. Only by sacrifice, the giving up of all selfish gain, could Saint Francis Xavier be free to bear the Good News to the world. Sacrifice is leaving yourself behind at times for a greater good, the good of prayer, the good of helping someone in need, the good of just listening to another. The greatest gift we have is our time. Saint Francis Xavier gave his to others.

How can you use your precious gift of time today “preaching” through the example of your life’s actions to others around you?

Source: Saint Francis Xavier | Franciscan Media


Saint Francis Xavier, your indefatigable journeying to spread the Gospel inspired generations of missionaries. May your legacy of generosity and vigor continue in us as we convert others through our own witness of virtue, work, and charity for all. 

Saint Francis Xavier, pray for us. Amen.

Source: Saint Francis Xavier, Priest – Saint of the Day from My Catholic Life!

Almighty Father, do not permit that Your Son, Our Lord, remain unknown by unbelievers, but, with the help of Your Saints and the Church, the Bride of Your Son, remember Your mercy, forget their idolatry and infidelity, and make them know Him. (Extract from a prayer by St Francis Xavier)

Saint Links 

Aleteia – St. Francis Xavier encourages us to love God for only one reason

AnaStpaul – Saint of the Day – 3 December – St Francis Xavier SJ (1506-1552) – One of the greatest Missionaries since St Paul

Angelus – Saint of the day: Francis Xavier – Rev. Alban Butler Volume XII: December. The Lives of the Saints. 1866. December 3 St. Francis Xavier, Apostle of the Indies, Confessor

Catholic Fire – St. Francis Xavier: A Missionary on Fire for the Faith

Catholic Ireland – Dec 3 – St Francis Xavier (1506-52) Jesuit missionary

Catholic News Agency – St. Francis Xavier

CatholicSaints.Info – Saint Francis Xavier

Franciscan Media – Saint Francis Xavier

Ignatian Spirituality – St. Francis Xavier, SJ (1506–1552)

Independent Catholic News – St Francis Xavier

Loyola Press – Saint Francis Xavier, 1506-1552 Feast Day December 3

New Advent – Astrain, A. (1909). St. Francis Xavier. In The Catholic Encyclopedia.

Newman Ministry – Saint Francis Xavier

Saint Mary’s Press – Saint Francis Xavier (1506-1552)

uCatholic – Saint Francis Xavier

Wikipedia – Francis Xavier

Video Link

St. Francis Xavier – YouTube (Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network – USA)

St. Francis Xavier – YouTube (Catholic Online)