Tuesday, 12/3/ 13
St Francis Xavier was born a proud Basque. At nineteen, as a student at the University of Paris he was offended when his companion, Pierre Favre, attached himself to a limping old common soldier named Ignatius of Loyola; but once he was exposed to Loyola’s militant faith, he became his disciple. (Later, when Francis was writing to Ignatius from India, he always knelt out of reverence for him.)
At twenty-eight Francis became one of the original Company of Jesus, followers of Ignatius, who came to be known as Jesuits.
In 1493 Pope Alexander VI had given the Western hemisphere to Spain, and the Eastern hemisphere to Portugal. In 1540, when Francis was thirty-four, King John of Portugal sent Francis off to India as the Apostolic Nuncio to all of the Far East. In that role Francis brought the faith to India, Burma, Malaysia, the East Indies, Japan and China.
Being frustrated at learning Japanese, he tried preaching from sermons in Japanese written in Spanish lettering. He was unsuccessful at that, but three young Jesuits whom he left behind there, over fifty years, mastered the language, leaving converts whose descendents died in our bombing of Nagasaki.
Francis, at age forty-six, died on a Chinese island near Macao. Perhaps he had too much of the mentality of a soldier for the faith. In India he organized Catholic youths to raid Hindu shrines, destroying idols. And he had petitioned the Church in Rome to set up the Inquisition to bring fallen away Catholics to trial.