|Our Patron Saint|
Saint Francis Xavier is very dear to Indian Catholics. He landed in Goa on the 6th of May 1542 after a very tedious voyage. During his time in India he would go through the streets ringing a bell-inviting children to come and hear the Word of God. He was instrumental in restoring Catholicism in the coastal area, where Christianity was virtually disappearing due to the lack of priests.
He was tireless in his preaching in Western India, converting many, and making arduous journeys, even to Ceylon. Sometimes he encountered great hardships and cruel persecutions from the kings in India. Even the Portuguese soldiers hindered his work through their vicious and bad behavior.
In 1545 he went to Malacca and he laboured there for many years and was successful in converting many of the local people. He returned to Goa in 1548 and established a novitiate and a house of studies. In 1549 he left for Japan, with some other missionaries.
The entire first year was spent in learning the Japanese language and translating the principle articles of faith into Japanese. By 1551, in spite of meeting with resistance from the local leaders he managed to establish the nucleus of several Christian communities, which in time increased with extraordinary rapidity. He returned to Goa in 1552. Domestic troubles awaited him. Once these were settled, Saint Francis turned his eyes towards China. The same year he left for this vast country. However, before reaching the mainland he fell ill, he was moved to the shores and a rough hut was built for him. In these wretched conditions, without benefit of a Christian burial, or the sacraments he breathed his last.
This man, the scion of a noble Basque family, who never dreamt of spending his last years in the Eastern countries had in the space of ten years managed to traverse the seas so many times and preached in so many different countries. The apostolic zeal that drove him and the miracles that God worked through him makes him the greatest missionary since the time of the Apostles.
Within a few weeks of his death his body was recovered and found to be incorrupt. It was brought to Goa and received with devotion and enthusiasm. He was beatified by Pope Paul V in 1619. His body is still enshrined at Goa in the church which formally belonged to the Society of Jesus. In 1614 the right arm was severed and carried to Rome where an altar was erected to receive it at the Church of Gesu.
Veneration of the Saint continues unabated in India.
Collect: God our Father , by the preaching of Francis Xavier you brought many nations to yourself. Give his zeal for the faith to all who believe in you, that your Church may rejoice in continued growth throughout the world. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
The Church has declared St. Francis Xavier (along with St. Teresa) the Patron of the missions. The feast day is December 3rd.