Saint Francis Xavier (1506-1552), Spanish Jesuit missionary, called the Apostle of the Indies. Born near Pamplona, on April 7, 1506, Xavier was educated at the University of Paris. In 1529, while in Paris, he met the Spanish ascetic Ignatius of Loyola. Xavier was one of the group that joined Ignatius to found the Order of Jesus. In 1537 Xavier became the first secretary of the Order.
In 1542 Xavier began his work in Portuguese India. After preaching with great success in Goa for five months, he extended his labors to southern India and Ceylon (Sri Lanka), where he converted tens of thousands of locals.
He then led missionary work in Malacca, where he founded many Christian communities, in Japan, where he also succeeded and left behind a vigorous Christian community. In 1552 he returned to Goa with a plan to introduce Christianity into China.
To gain entrance to that country, which was then closed to foreigners, he persuaded the Portuguese authorities to send an embassy, of which he would be a member, to the Chinese emperor. The embassy departed from Goa in the spring of 1552; it went no farther than Malacca, but Xavier continued the journey alone, arriving at a small island near Macau in August 1552. He died there December 3, 1522, after repeated vain attempts to reach the mainland. His body is enshrined in Goa, in the Church of the Good Jesus.
A man of remarkable energy and organizational ability, Xavier ranks among the greatest missionaries of all times. Canonized in 1622. The list of his principal miracles may be found in the Bull of canonization. He was declared patron of the Orient in 1748, patron of the Faith in 1904, and with the French nun St. Teresa of Lisieux, patron of all missions in 1927. He is also the patron saint of sailors. His feast day is December 3.
See: Nicolas Poussin. The Miracle of St. Francis Xavier.
The Book of Saints: The Lives of the Saints According to the Liturgical Calendar by George Angelini, Victor Hoagland (Editor). Regina Press, Malhame & Company, 1986.
365 Saints: Your Daily Guide to the Wisdom and Wonder of Their Lives by Woodeene Koenig-Brick (Author). Harper SanFrancisco, 1995.
Set All Afire: A Novel About Saint Francis Xavier by Louis De Wohl. Ignatius Press, 1991.