The Feast of St. Francis Xavier is an important holiday that is observed by devout Christians all over the world. In India, it is a regional public holiday in the state of Goa. It is observed on 3 December every year. St. Francis Xavier was a very important missionary who was instrumental in propagating the Christian faith and the Roman Catholic church in several parts of India.
Feast of St. Francis Xavier 2021
|St Francis Xavier Feast Day||Friday, 3 December 2021||Goa|
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St. Francis Xavier was born as Francis in the town of Xavier, or Javier, in present-day Spain (which was the Kingdom of Navarre). He was born on 7 April 1506. He was born into a wealthy family that had extensive farmlands as its ancestral wealth. His father was the finance minister to King John III of Navarre. His mother was an heiress to two of the wealthy noble families in the region. Francis’ father passed away when he was 9 years old.
In 1525, he went to study at the University of Paris, where he spent the next 11 years. In 1529, Francis shared his accommodation with Ignatius of Loyola, who asked him a question that turned his life around, ‘' What will it profit a man to gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?’'. However, Francis continued to study and received his degree of the Master of Arts in the year 1530 and went on to teach philosophy at the University of Paris.
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In the year 1534, on 15 August, Francis, along with six other students, took vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience to the Pope. Francis began his study of theology that year and was ordained as a priest in the year 1537.
In the year 1539, Ignatius founded The Society of Jesus, which later became the Jesuits, which was approved by Pope Paul III the next year. In 1540, the King of Portugal requested missionaries to be sent to India, which had a considerable Portuguese population, to revive their faith. Ignatius selected Francis to go to India to establish the Society of Jesus.
Francis left Rome in the year 1540 and devoted his life to doing his missionary work in several parts of Asia, most notably India, China, Japan, Malacca, and Amboina and Ternate.
Francis arrived in Goa, which was then the capital of Portuguese India, in the year 1542. Francis spent a great deal of his time preaching to the Portuguese settlers, teaching their children, and ministering to the sick in hospital. He was then invited to head the first Jesuit headquarters in Asia, which was a seminary for educating secular priests, as the head of the St. Paul’s College.
In the year 1542, he set sail for Cape Comorin. He preached to those who were already baptised and those who weren’t. He spent three years teaching, preaching, and converting people in Ceylon and South India. He also built at least 40 churches across the coast, most notably the St. Stephen’s Church in Kombuthurai.
In the year 1545, he left for the Portuguese Malacca, where he spent several months, and onto the islands of Maluku. He returned to Malacca in the year 1547. He returned to Goa in the year 1548. In the year 1549, he reached Japan along with the first Japanese Christian, who he had converted earlier. He was the first Jesuit priest to visit Japan and spent more than two years there. He returned to Goa in January 1552. He later set sail to China, where he spent time from August to December 1552.
He passed away in China on 3 December 1552, from a fever that had developed. He was first buried on the island that he died in, Shangchuan. However, in 1553, it was temporarily moved from there to Portuguese Malacca and buried in the St. Paul’s Church. In the same year, the body was moved to Goa, where it now remains in the Basilica of Bom Jesus.
His body is placed in a glass container that is encased in a silver casket surrounded by 32 silver plates all around it that depict several scenes from his life. These scenes are important events in his life, from his miraculous healings of people to his visions and conversions.
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The beatification of Francis of Xavier took place on 25 October 1619 and his canonization took place on 12 March 1622. He was proclaimed to be the ‘'Patron of Catholic Missions’'. His Feast Day is celebrated on 3 December every year.