Saint Francis Xavier

Many people think of Saint Francis Xavier as just another one of the many saints. Although to my eyes he is more than just a saint, he is an inspiration. I do not mean this because I go to a Catholic school and we are taught this, but because of what he did. Francis was a great man and I wish I knew him. Even though I never met him, it feels as if he is standing right next to me. This may not make sense now but, hopefully, I can make you understand.

The way of life for this saint was not glamorous. He chose to live in the poorest surroundings and refused to take any material conveniences that were offered him. He ate so little it was amazing he could keep himself alive. The only thing he'd take on his long voyages was a pair of boots. He could handle the coldest of cold and the most amazing heat. Francis would seek for the sick and poor wherever he went and spent his time ministering to their every need. No matter how busy he was with his labors, he would pray during the greater part of the night. St. Francis was humble and determined to do what God wanted and spent all his time doing just that.

He was born on April 7, 1506 in the castle of Xavier in Spanish Navarone. After he finished school in his own city, he went to college in Paris. It was in Francis' college days that he met Ignatius Loyola. College de Sainte-Barb was where Ignatius was putting together the Society of Jesus, or the Jesuits. Along with friends, Francis vowed to offer himself to this group of holy men. After finishing college and teaching for a time, he left on November 15, 1536 for Venice with his companions. Here he attended to the sick and showed his zeal for charity and service. On June 24, 1537, he received his Holy Orders along with his friend, Ignatius. His reputation found the King of Portugal requesting him to evangelize the people of the East Indies. So on March 16, 1540, he left Rome for the East Indies. In June, he reached Lisbon. He stayed there for nine months. Then on April 7, 1541, he left for India. On May 6th, 1542, he landed in Goa after a dangerous voyage. For five months, Francis preached in the hospitals. Going through the streets, he would ring a small bell and invite children to hear God's word. Although Christianity had been introduced earlier, because of the lack of priests, it was almost nonexistent. Francis spent three years preaching and evangelizing to the people of Western India. This was a trial for him, as many cruel persecutions existed.

Francis left for Malacca in the spring of 1545. He found many people here did not wish to return to God, so in January of 1546, Francis went to the Molucca Islands. He taught the Gospel there. But by July 1547, he was back in Malacca again. It was here that he met a man who was Japanese. His name was Anger (Han-sir) and he renewed Francis' zeal to take Christianity to Japan. The Society called Francis back to Goa and he took Anger with him. Anger was baptized at Goa and he received a new name, Pablo de Santa Fe. Francis, Pablo de Santa Fe and Father Cosme de Torres, a priest he met in the Molucca Islands, then left for Japan.

They landed in Kagoshima on August 15, 1549. For the first year, the only thing they did was learn the Japanese language. Although he is acclaimed to have a gift with tongues, languages were not very easy for St. Francis Xavier. In August 1550, they left Kagoshima, went to the center of Japan and then to Southern Japan. In 1551, he went back through Japan and preached in some important cities, which then became important Christian communities. Early in 1552, he was called back again to the Society in Goa to help with disagreements. He now was turning thoughts to China and began to plan an expedition. He was excited about the possibilities available for evangelization in this country. Amidst controversy from the Portuguese, Francis obtained passage and a boat and left in 1552 to talk with the Sovereign of China. Sadly, he fell ill while journeying there, and the rocking boat made him worse. So he was taken to land where left to the kindness of an old man and a very old hut.

St. Francis died December 3, 1552 there in that hut. The last words of St. Francis were, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy of me." Then he exclaimed over and over again, "O Virgin Mother of God, remember me when I die." Then he gave his life over to God with the name of Jesus on his lips. He was buried the next morning. After two months of being in his coffin, they opened up the coffin and found that his body hadn't decayed. He was taken back to Goa, India and put in a shrine in the Church of Good Jesus. It is still there today.

Francis was a miracle worker. He raised people from the dead, calmed storms and continuously healed people. "One citation was the miraculous return of his crucifix. Fr. Francis Xavier was traveling from one island to the next in a native boat in Moloccus and on that particular day there was a big storm and his boat together with those of his entourage nearby capsized. He held the crucifix in his hand and said a prayer to the Lord and then dipped the crucifix in the rough sea, which immediately calmed down and the storm disappeared. But most unfortunately, his crucifix fell off his hand and disappeared to the bottom of the sea. Fr. Francis Xavier was naturally upset, as this was the particular crucifix with which he had blessed his subjects during his travels. He prayed to the Lord for the return of his crucifix and he was really taken aback the next day when he was walking along the shore of the island. A crab brought back his crucifix, firmly held by the crab's claw. With great joy, he picked up the crucifix and blessed the crab and the crab disappeared towards the calm inviting sea. On the shell of this species of crab there is a distinct sign of the cross, and these crabs still do appear in abundance up to this day."

I think we need a person like St Francis Xavier today because a lot of people don't know Christ the way St. Francis did. Doing this report has taught me a lot of cool ways of how to live my faith. Has it taught you something? I hope it did because I want to see you and everyone else on the earth in heaven.

Rachel-Marie B. 6th grade, Reilly Y. 6th grade, Emmy B. 6th grade, Alex O. 8th grade and Marcus M. 8th grade

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