Saint Francis Xavier, S.J. (born Francisco de Jasso y Azpilicueta, 7 April 1506 – 3 December 1552)

Saint Francis Xavier, S.J. (born Francisco de Jasso y Azpilicueta, 7 April 1506 – 3 December 1552), was a Navarrese-Basque Roman Catholic missionary, born in Javier (Xavier in Navarro-Aragonese or Xabier in Basque), Kingdom of Navarre (now part of Spain), and a co-founder of the Society of Jesus. He was a companion of St. Ignatius of Loyola and one of the first seven Jesuits who took vows of poverty and chastity at Montmartre, Paris in 1534.[1] He led an extensive mission into Asia, mainly in the Portuguese Empire of the time and was influential in evangelization work, most notably in India. He also was the first Christian missionary to venture into Japan, Borneo, the Maluku Islands, and other areas. In those areas, struggling to learn the local languages and in the face of opposition, he had less success than he had enjoyed in India. Xavier was about to extend his missionary preaching to China but died in Shangchuan Island shortly before he could do so.

He was beatified by Pope Paul V on 25 October 1619 and canonized by Pope Gregory XV on 12 March 1622. In 1624 he was made co-patron of Navarre alongside Santiago. Known as the “Apostle of the Indies,” and the “Apostle of Japan”, he is considered to be one of the greatest missionaries since St. Paul.[2] In 1927, Pope Pius XI published the decree “Apostolicorum in Missionibus” naming St. Francis Xavier, along with St. Thérèse of Lisieux, co-patron of all foreign missions.[3] He is now co-patron saint of Navarre with San Fermin. The Day of Navarre (Día de Navarra) in Spain marks the anniversary of Saint Francis Xavier’s death, on 3 December 1552.

 

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