Prayer by St. Francis Xavier
November 29, 1992
Brother John Raymond
St. Francis Xavier was in 1506 at Navarre, Spain. When he was
eighteen Francis attended the University of Paris. It was here that
he met St. Ignatius of Loyola who was trying to find candidates for
his new Order: the Jesuits.
With some hesitation St. Francis did become part of the first
group of seven members. In 1540 St. Ignatius sent St. Francis with
the first missionary expedition to the East Indies. The voyage was
very difficult by ship; it took thirteen months for them to arrive
at Goa, India.
Parts of Goa had already been Christianized, but there was a
great need for religious instruction among the people. Francis set
to work instructing the people and visiting the sick. For poor
uneducated people St. Francis put the truths of the Faith in verses
so that it could be sung to popular musical tunes. This technique
was so popular that these songs were soon being sung everywhere.
After five months of work St. Francis was informed about a people
on the Pearl Fishery coast, opposite Ceylon, who were baptized but
who lacked proper instruction. He went to these people to help them.
He began by learning the native language and then instructed and
confirmed the people. After this St. Francis preached the Faith to
those in the area who were not Christian. He had the gift of healing
which helped him to convert many. In a letter sent back home Francis
said that the fatigue from baptizing the multitudes of converts
sometimes exhausted the muscles in his arm.
The people he lived with were from the lower classes of society.
Francis lived at their level of poverty; sleeping on the ground in a
hut and eating rice with water.
Soon he was able to extend his missionary work to Travancore.
Village after village received him enthusiastically. After baptizing
the people Francis would write to other Jesuits in the area to come
and organize the converts.
St. Francis made a pilgrimage to the Shrine of St. Thomas the
Apostle in Mylapore. (St. Thomas spread the Gospel among the
Parthians, the Medes, the Persians and went as far as India. Today
he is honored as the Apostle of India.) There was a small Portuguese
settlement nearby. He visited them and converted some who were badly
In the Spring of 1545 St. Francis went to Malacca, Malaya working
there for four months. For the next eighteen months he visited some
islands in that area where there were Portuguese settlements. He
then returned to his flock in Malacca for another four months and
then returned to India.
St. Francis heard about Japan from Portuguese merchants and from
a fugitive Japanese he met while traveling. He was keenly interested
in bringing the Faith to this unknown country. For the next 15
months Francis traveled between Goa, Ceylon and Cape Comorin
strengthening his converts.
In April, 1549 St. Francis, another Jesuit Priest and two
Japanese converts set out for Japan. On the feast of the Assumption
they arrived at Kagoshima on Kyushu. Here he attempted to learn
Japanese and had translated basic Christian teachings into this
language. After a year's work he had gained 100 converts among the
After some persecution from the local authorities the Saint
decided to go to Hirado. The ruler of this area was impressed by the
missionaries. This enabled Francis and his companions to evangelize
more easily than in Kagoshima. The result was more converts in a few
weeks than in the previous year of labor.
St. Francis pushed onward to Yamaguchi in Honshu. Here, however,
the rulers and people were not favorable towards him and treated him
scornfully. After a month's work with little success he set his
sight on the chief city of Japan, Miyako (Kyoto). He traveled for
two months during the winter on bad roads. Upon arriving he tried to
arrange an audience with the chief ruler of Japan. This audience
could only be arranged by paying a large sum of money which the
Saint did not have. Besides this problem, civil strife broke out in
the city making preaching impossible. So after staying a little over
one day he began his journey back to Yamaguchi.
Evangelical poverty did not appeal to rulers in Japan. St.
Francis decided to change his methods to win over the difficult
mission in Yamaguchi. So he dressed in a more sophisticated way, had
his companions pose as attendants and presented himself before the
rulers as a representative of Portugal. He had some gifts which the
authorities in India had given him for the king of Japan. He
presented these instead to the rulers in Yamaguchi. This audience
with St. Francis impressed the rulers so much that he was allowed to
preach in public and was provided with an empty Buddhist monastery
to live in. With the rulers' encouragement St. Francis was able to
convert many in that difficult city.
A Portuguese ship docked close to where St. Francis was staying.
He decided to board it to return to India and check on his missions
there. He now had an increasing desire to evangelize China. Upon
arriving in India he found progress had been made in his missions
but some problems had arisen. After four months, on April 25, 1552
Francis with four companions sailed for Malacca to meet India's
ambassador to China. The ambassador was not able to help him because
China was closed to foreigners, but St. Francis could not be stopped
by this disappointing news. He hoped to find a way to land secretly
By August Francis had managed to reach the desolate island of
Sancian which was only six miles from the coast and 100 miles from
Hong Kong. He had arranged to pay a Chinese merchant to take him to
China. He waited on the island but the merchant never arrived. While
waiting Francis became ill. He returned to the Portuguese ship
docked off the coast but found the motion of the sea made him worse.
So he returned to the island. A few days later it was evident he was
dying. On December 3rd (his feast day) St. Francis Xavier died,
uttering the Holy Name of Jesus.
His body was taken back to his first mission in Goa. His body has
remained incorrupt. He was canonized in 1622.
Prayer by St. Francis Xavier
Eternal God, Creator of all things, remember that You alone has
created the souls of unbelievers, which You have made according to
Your Image and Likeness. Behold, O Lord, how to Your dishonor many
of them are falling into Hell. Remember, O Lord, Your Son Jesus
Christ, Who so generously shed His Blood and suffered for them. 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, Who You have sent, Jesus Christ, Your Son, Our
Lord, Who is our salvation, our life, and our resurrection, through
Whom we have been saved and redeemed, and to Whom is due glory