St. Francis Xavier was born in the Kingdom of Navarre on April 7, 1506.

He studied at the University of Paris, where he met Peter Favre and Ignatius of Loyola.

In August 1534, Francis, along with Peter Favre and several others, made vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. The men planned to travel to the Holy Land to convert non-believers.

Pope Paul III approved the formation of their order in 1540. This order became The Society of Jesus, more popularly known as the Jesuits.

Pope Paul III asked the Jesuits to take a mission to India to help restore Christian virtue among the Portuguese settlers there.

Francis left for India in 1541 and was appointed as the Papal Nuncio to the East so that he could formally represent the Church. He arrived in the region of Goa, India in May 1542.

Francis ministered to the sick, the children and the native people of the Pearl Fishery Coast.

He traveled to Malacca where he met a Japanese man named Anjiro. Francis converted Anjiro to Christianity, making him the first Japanese convert.

In 1549, Francis departed for Japan. But most of the Japanese proved difficult to convert. He was able to establish a few congregations, but the religion was suppressed and Christianity became the subject of great persecution.

Francis returned to India in April 1552 and quickly decided to travel to China by invitation. But before he could get there, he became ill with a fever and died on December 3, 1552.

He was buried on an island off the coast of China. His body was later transferred to Malacca then Goa in December 1553. He remains buried in India in a silver casket encased in a glass.

Several of his bones have been removed as relics. His right arm, which he used to bless converts, is on display in Rome.

St. Francis Xavier was beatified By Pope Paul V in 1619, and canonized by Gregory XV on March 12, 1622. He is the patron of Catholic missions and his feast day is on December 3.

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To learn more about St. Francis Xavier: http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=423

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