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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Memorial of St. Francis Xavier, Missionary

In our Loyola Hall chapel at Cheverus, one of the stained-glass windows shows Ignatius of Loyola pointing east to his companion, Francis Xavier. Ignatius just handed Xavier a crucifix with instructions to “Go, set everything ablaze” – Ite inflammate omnia. It was the last time that the two friends saw each other on this earth.

Francis was perhaps the greatest missionary since the time of Paul and the Apostles. Born in northern Spain (relatively close to Ignatius’ birthplace) in April 1506, Francis moved to France to study at the University of Paris where he met Ignatius in 1529 and joined his group of companions.

He sailed on this mission to India in 1541 and first preached to the pearlfishers before continuing his missionary ventures and baptizing the natives. Once Francis began a mission that became stabilized, he would continue to new lands to establish further missions. After setting up in India , he traveled to Malaya, then to the Moluccas, and next to Japan , where he was the first missionary to enter that country. He later heard about China and desperately wanted to go there, but he was detained off the coast of China as he was trying to arrange official passage to the mainland. It was at that time that he fell ill and died on December 3rd, 1552.

He was canonized in 1622 with Ignatius and in 1927 we has made patron of the missions. Francis was the first missionary to meet with success in establishing permanent Christian communities in the East.

Let us use this prayer today as we honor one of our great Jesuit founders:

God our Father, by the preaching of 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 Grant this through our Lord, Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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