Today we honor St. Francis Xavier, who, like our Pope, was named after Francis of . Assisi. His other name, Xavier, was a Basque word for the new house, which his noble family had constructed in northern Spain.
A proud nineteen-year-old at the University of Paris, he was angry with his fellow Basque students when they attached themselves to Ignatius of Loyola, an older Spanish soldier with a limp from a war wound. However, when he was forced to listen to Ignatius, he became one of the original seven who formed the Jesuits.
Ten years before the birth of Francis Xavier, Pope Alexander VI in 1496 had given the exploration of the Western world to Spain, while giving the exploration of the far East to Portugal. Each country sent out it explorers and traders to bring back wealth from afar, but they also took seriously the task of planting the faith on those far shores.
The King of Portugal appointed a thirty-four-year-old Francis Xavier to oversee spreading the faith over India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Japan and China. He was forty-six when he died at Macao while trying to get in to preach the Gospel in China.
Obedience was a big thing with Xavier. He always knelt while writing reports back to St. Ignatius. His single-minded approach to Christianity had him training boys to smash Hindu idols. He tried getting his sermons translated into Japanese, and without getting through the language barrier, he read them aloud to amazed people in Japanese market towns.