St. Augustine Catholic
The Nativity Story
Covered in Prayer
All May be One

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editor's notes
saint of the month
bishop's message
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theology 101
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parish profile
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saint of the month
St. Francis Xavier  
Apostle to the East

by Elizabeth Johnson

Francis Xavier
Born: April 7, 1506
Died: Dec. 2, 1552
Feast Day: Dec. 3

Claim to Fame: Known as The Apostle to the Indies and Japan, St. Francis Xavier is the patron of all foreign missions. Through his missionary efforts, St. Francis Xavier is said to have converted more people to Christianity than anyone else since St. Paul.

Little-known fact: Even though he was a co-founder of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) with St. Ignatius Loyola, St. Francis used to make fun of St. Ignatius for his love of poverty and his strict religious observances. He later apologized for his teasing.

What made him a saint: St. Francis Xavier was one of the first Jesuit missionaries. Arriving in Goa, India in 1542, he preached to the natives, living among them and adopting their customs. Over the next 10 years, he taught and converted more than 10,000 people to Christianity. He traveled to the Paravas, the Moluccas (now New Guinea), Morotai (near the Philippines) and Japan. Despite obstacles with language, poor funding and resistance from authorities in the countries to which he traveled and from European explorers, he persevered in spreading the Gospel and teaching people about Jesus.

Best quote: “The dangers to which I am exposed and the tasks I undertake for God are inexhaustible springs of spiritual joy, so much so that these islands are the places in all the world for a man to lose his sight by excess of weeping; but they are tears of joy.”

How he died: A decade of missionary work took its toll on St. Francis Xavier. In December 1552, as he was preparing to visit the mainland of China to spread the Gospel there, he became ill with a serious fever. He spent his final weeks on an island off the coast of China in a hut. He was buried in a shallow grave there; his body was later taken to Goa, where it was enshrined in a church belonging to the Jesuits.

Prayer: Lord God, by the preaching of St. Francis Xavier you brought many nations to yourself. Give his zeal for the faith to all who believe in you, that your church may rejoice in continued growth throughout the world. May this prayer fill us with the same love that inspired Francis Xavier to work for the salvation of all. Help us to live our Christian calling and to inherit the promise of eternal life. We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord. Amen.