Sure, Last Sunday was the day that the season of Advent began and we celebrate it for the next three weeks. It was also the First day of Hanukah, celebrated by our Jewish friends all over the world. But there is another feast day that is not so widely celebrated; Monday of this past week was the day that is set aside by the Catholic Church to remember and honor our parish patron; Saint Francis Xavier. I don’t know about you but I knew very little about our namesake until I did some research. Here are some amazing facts I found about Francis: Born April 7, 1506 in what is now Spain. He was born and raised in a prosperous farming family. Acquired a Doctorate in law at the University of Bologna. He later went to study in Paris where he would spend the next eleven years. In those early days he developed quite a reputation as an athlete and especially a high jumper.
While continuing his education he became very good friends with several class fellows and roommates including Ignatius of Loyola. Ignatius and the other men, after much resistance, convinced Francis to advance to the priesthood with them under the guidance of the older Ignatius who was even then working on his plan to start the new religious order; the Society of Jesus, the Jesuits. At the age of 28, Xavier began his study of theology and was ordained three years later. Through a series of unusual events, Francis began his life as the first Jesuit missionary almost by accident. He left Rome by train in March of 1540, and reached Lisbon three months later. He devoted much of his life to missions in Asia, including Japan and China. After that stint he was assigned by the pope as apostolic nuncio to the East. He then devoted almost three years to the work of preaching to the people of southern India and Ceylon, converting many to Christianity. Francis Xavier is considered the greatest missionary since the time of Saint Paul. He is reputed to have converted more people than anyone else has done since St. Paul. Modern scholars place the number of people converted to Christianity by
Francis Xavier at around 30,000! Francis left the area and others whom he had trained carried on the work and by the 1590s there were 50,000 to 60,000 Roman Catholics in the area. There is a huge list of miracles attributed to our patron saint so keep on praying! Francis Xavier died on the island of Sancian near the coast of China on December 2, 1552 at the age of 46. Very interesting to me is the fact that his remains (which are as yet incorrupt) were moved several times finally ending up being enshrined in a former Jesuit church in Goa in western India in an open solid silver casket.
Another interesting point is that by order of the General of the Society of Jesus at the time, the right arm was severed at the elbow and conveyed to the Jesuit Church Rome, where the relic has been displayed ever since.
Many churches, schools in the United States and even a basilica in Iowa are named in honor of our very own patron saint. So, thank God, we have a pretty impressive saint watching over us. If you want to know more details on our beloved Francis, you can go to: Wikipedia.org/wikiFrancis Xavier or