December 3rd is the feast day celebration of St. Francis Xavier, the patron saint of Catholic missions. He is said to have baptized over 30,000 people into the church during his time in India, Japan and other locations in southeast Asia. St. Francis was one of the original members of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) founded by St. Ignatius of Loyola. St. Francis was born on April 7, 1506 in the Basque Region of Northern Spain in the Kingdom of Navarre into an upper-class family. During his studies in Paris with St. Ignatius of Loyola and others, although reluctant at first, he made vows of vows of poverty, chastity and obedience and joined 7 others in what would become the Society of Jesus.
Mission to India and the East
St. Francis made his way to India by ship and arrived in Goa in 1542 as part of the Society of Jesus mission at the direction of Pope Paul III. St. Francis was able to easily interact with people of all types, even when they did not have a common language. With confidence, enthusiasm and personality, St. Francis was able to convert many in India and is said to have established more than forty churches there. While in Goa, and with the Paravas on the southeastern Pearl Fishery Coast of India, many miracles of healing occurred due to his intercession, and his efforts in the country resulted in many thousands joining the church. In 1549, St. Francis journeyed to Japan, and during his two years there, he established a few communities, but returned to India under the pressure of great persecution of Christians in Japan. In 1552, he set out for China, but died on December 3, 1552 while awaiting offshore for permission to enter China. He was canonized by Gregory XV on March 12, 1622, at the same time as Ignatius Loyola. In 1927, Pope Pius XI named him, along with Theresa of the Child Jesus, Patron of the Missions. You can read much more about the great saint in the book A Life of Saint Francis Xavier by M.T. Kelly which can be read online here https://www.google.com/books/edition/A_Life_of_Saint_Francis_Xavier_Based_on/JeFb6uaqo34C?gbpv=1
Churches and Cathedrals
St. Francis Xavier has a large following in many countries across the world, especially the India, Spain, Mexico and the United States. There are many churches and cathedrals established under his patronage. Some of the most beautiful are: San Xavier Del Bac Mission, Tuscon, Arizona (feature photo); St. Francis Xavier's Cathedral, Adelaide, Australia; St. Francis Xavier Church, Kovilur, Dharamapuri, Tamil Nadu, India; and St. Francis Xavier Cathedral, Bangalore, India. Read more and see photos of the Cathedral in Bangalore at https://churchwonders.com/churches-shrines/india-churches/st-francis-xavier-cathedral-bangalore-india/ The incorrupt body of St. Francis Xavier is kept in a silver casket at the Basilica of Bom Jesus in Goa, India. The Saint’s body and casket is made available for public viewing every 10 years, with the next exposition scheduled for November 21, 2024 through January 5, 2025.