SAINT FRANCIS XAVIER APOSTLE OF THE INDIES AND JAPAN—1506-1552
Feast: December 3
In every age since Christ charged the Apostles to go and preach to all nations there have been saintly and heroic men who have journeyed to far lands in order to bring new peoples into the Christian fold. Among those who labored most zealously was the Jesuit, Francis Xavier, named by Pius X as official patron of foreign missions and of all work for spreading the faith. The first great missionary to the Orient in modern times, Xavier planted Christianity in western and southern India, in the then uncharted islands of the Indian Ocean, and in Japan. He died, four hundred years ago, while making a valiant effort to reach the people of China.

Xavier was born in 1506. It was fourteen years after Columbus' first voyage, and Spain was stirring with a ferment that was to result in ever greater achievements as the century advanced. His birthplace was the castle of Xavier, near Pampeluna, not far from the present French border. The family was highly placed, the mother being the heiress of the houses of Azpilqueta and Xavier, and the father, Don Juan de Jasso, councilor to the King of Navarre. Francis was the youngest of a large family, and special attention was given to his education. Since he had a taste for study, he was sent at seventeen to the University of Paris, to enter the College of St. Barbara. In 1530 he received the degree of Master of Arts, and afterwards taught Aristotelian philosophy in the university. Before receiving his degree he had come under the influence of a compatriot and fellow student, Ignatius Loyola, a former soldier who was fifteen years his senior. Filled with a compelling desire to save souls, Loyola had drawn around him a little band of seven earnest men who, in 1534, formed themselves into the Society of Jesus, dedicated to the service of God.[1] Francis was a member of this group.

With his companions he was ordained to the priesthood three years later in Venice, and shared in all the labors and vicissitudes of the young organization. It was in 1540 that the King of Portugal, John III, had his ambassador at the Vatican ask the Pope for Jesuit missionaries to spread the faith in his new Indian possessions. Loyola promptly appointed Francis to join Simon Rodriguez, another of the original seven, then in Portugal; together they should undertake this work. On reaching Lisbon at the end of June, Xavier went immediately to Rodriguez, and the two priests, while waiting through the fall and winter for plans to mature, were lodged in a hospital where they helped care for the sick; they also catechized and taught in the hospital and in the city, and their Sundays and holidays were often spent hearing confessions at court. King John came to have so high a regard for them that he decided to keep Rodriguez at Lisbon and was for a time uncertain whether or not to let Xavier go. But at last he delivered to Xavier four briefs from Pope Paul III, in which he was constituted papal nuncio and recommended to the princes of the East.

In the spring Xavier, with two assistants, Brother Paul of Camerino, an Italian, and Francis Mancias, a Portuguese layman, joined an expedition bound for Goa, on the west coast of India. They sailed on April 7, 1541, Xavier's thirty-fifth birthday. There were five ships in the fleet, and the missionaries sailed on that of the admiral, which also carried Don Martin de Sousa, newly appointed governor of India. Xavier had declined to take a servant, saying that as long as he had the use of his hands and feet he could wait on himself. When told it would be unbecoming for a papal nuncio and scion of a noble Spanish house to cook his own food and wash his own linen on deck, he replied that he could cause no scandal so long as he did no evil. He took all on board under his spiritual care. He catechized the sailors, said Mass, and preached on deck every Sunday; he also had to settle quarrels and check disorders. When scurvy broke out on all the ships, he helped tend the sick. It took five months to round the Cape of Good Hope and reach Mozambique, where they wintered and rested for six months Finally, on May 6, 1542, they landed at Goa, after a voyage of thirteen months, twice the usual period of time required.

Following quickly on the great voyages of discovery and exploration made by Magellan and Da Gama, the Portuguese had established themselves at Goa thirty years earlier. The Christian population had churches, clergy, and a bishop, but many of the Portuguese were ruled by ambition, avarice, and debauchery. They ignored the tenets and Sacraments of the Church and tended to shock and alienate the pagans by their behavior. There were a few preachers but no priests beyond the walls of Goa. Don Martin, the new governor, was a good man and tried to help Xavier in every way. To meet this challenging situation Xavier decided that he must begin by instructing the Portuguese themselves in the principles of faith, and give much of his time to the teaching of children. His mornings were usually spent in tending and comforting the distressed in hospital and prison; after that, he walked through the streets ringing a bell to summon the children and servants to Catechism. As they gathered about him, he led them into the church and taught them prayers, the Creed, and the rules of Christian conduct. On Sunday he said Mass for the lepers, preached to the Portuguese, then to the Indians, and finished the day by visiting in private homes.

By the gentleness of his words and behavior and his deep concern for souls, Francis won the people's respect. One of his most troublesome problems was the concubinage openly practiced by Europeans of all ranks with the native women. Xavier tried to meet the situation by methods that were not only moral, but sensible, humane, and tactful. To help simple people, he set Catholic doctrines to rhyme, to fit popular tunes, and these songs were sung everywhere, in fields and workshops, in streets and homes.

Xavier soon learned that along the Pearl Fishery Coast, which extends from Cape Comorin on the southern tip of India to the island of Manaar, off Ceylon, there was a low-caste people called Paravas, many of whom had been baptized ten years before, merely to please the Portuguese, who had helped them against their Mohammedan enemies, but who for lack of all teaching still kept their ancient superstitions. Accompanied by several native clerics from the seminary at Goa, he set sail for Cape Comorin in October, 1542. First he set himself to learn the language of the Paravas; he instructed those who had already been baptized, then preached to those still unsaved, and so great was the multitude he baptized that at times he was almost too weary to move his arms. With the high-caste Brahmins his efforts were unavailing, and at the end of a year he had made only one convert. But the common people accepted him and his message; he made himself one with them; his food was the same as that of the poorest, rice and water; he slept on the ground in a native hut. In his letters he reveals how intense was the joy that this labor gave him.

After fifteen months with the Paravas he returned to Goa to recruit help. The year following he was again working among them, with the help of Mancias, two native priests, and a lay catechist. In his letters from here we see how his work was made even more difficult by the unethical behavior of the Portuguese traders and settlers, who had not only been exploiting the poor people but also at times arousing the antagonism of the Indian rulers. He writes of one settler who stole a slave owned by the Rajah of nearby Travancore. "This act of injustice shuts me out from the Rajah, who is otherwise well disposed.... Would the Portuguese be pleased if, when one of the natives happened to quarrel with one of themselves, he were to take that Portuguese by force, put him in chains, and carry him off up country? Certainly not. The Indians must have the same feelings...." Xavier extended his activities up into Travancore, where he founded forty-five churches, and was hailed as the "Great Father." Village after village received him; he baptized the inhabitants and destroyed their temples and idols. As elsewhere, he enlisted the children and used them as helpers to the catechists, to teach others what they had just learned themselves. The Brahmin and Mohammedan authorities opposed Xavier with violence; time and again his hut was burned down over his head, and once he saved his life only by hiding among the branches of a large tree. His difficulties were increased too when the Christians of Comorin and Tuticorin were set upon by heathen tribes to the east, who robbed, massacred, and carried them into slavery. Xavier went to their relief and is said to have held off the raiders once by facing them alone, crucifix in hand. Again he was handicapped by the misdeeds of the Portuguese, whose local commandant was suspected of having secret dealings with the heathen.

Twice while in Travancore Xavier was credited with the miracle of bringing the dead to life. The miracles were probably one reason for his being invited to visit the island of Manaar, between Ceylon and the mainland. He could not himself leave Travancore at that time, but he sent a missionary to whom many came for instruction and baptism. The ruler of Jafanatapam in northern Ceylon, hearing of these successes, and fearing they might lead to a Portuguese conquest of Manaar, sent over an army that slew six hundred converts who, when questioned, bravely confessed Christ. Don Martin de Sousa gave orders for an expedition to avenge the massacre and depose its perpetrator in favor of a dethroned elder brother. Xavier went thither to join it, but the officers were diverted from their objective and Xavier made instead a journey of devotion to the shrine of St. Thomas at Mylapore,[2] near Madras.

Many incidents are told of Xavier's conversion of notorious European sinners during these travels. From Cochin in Travancore, early in 1545, he sent a long letter to King John with an account of his mission. He speaks boldly of the harm these adventurers were doing to the cause, and the danger that heathen who had been gathered into the Church might fall away,-"scandalized and terrified by the many grievous injuries and wrongs which they suffer, especially from your Highness' own servants.... For there is danger that when our Lord God calls your Highness to His judgment that your Highness may hear angry words from him: 'Why did you not punish those who were your subjects and owned your authority, and were enemies of Me in India?'" In another letter he is more explicit about the wickedness of the European colonists: "People scarcely hesitate to believe that it cannot be wrong to do what can be done so easily.... I never cease wondering at the number of novel inflexions which, in this new language of avarice, have been added to the usual forms in the conjugation of that illomened verb 'to rob.’" Plain speaking could not go much farther. Xavier's dedication to his task was complete; he ended one letter to the king with the words, "As I expect to die in these Indian regions and never to see your Highness again in this life, I beg you, my lord, to help me with your prayers, that we may meet again in the next world, where we shall certainly have more rest than here."

In the spring of 1545 Xavier moved on eastward to Malacca, on the Malay peninsula, and spent four months there. It was a large and prosperous city, which Albuquerque had captured for the Portuguese in 1511. Xavier was received with reverence and cordiality, and the people accepted in good part his efforts at correcting their licentiousness and greed. For the next eighteen months he was traveling into the almost unknown world of the Pacific, visiting islands which he speaks of as the Moluccas, probably those that are now known as the Spice Islands. On some of them he found Portuguese merchants and settlers. He suffered many physical hardships, but in spite of all he writes to Loyola: "The dangers to which I am exposed and the tasks I undertake for God are inexhaustible springs of spiritual joy, so much so that these islands are the places in all the world for a man to lose his sight by excess of weeping; but they are tears of joy. I do not remember ever to have tasted such inward delight; and these consolations take from me all sense of bodily hardships and of troubles from open enemies and not too trustworthy friends." On his return, Xavier sent three new Jesuit recruits from Europe to these islands.

Before leaving he heard for the first time of the existence of the Japanese archipelago. The news that there were still new worlds to conquer thrilled him. After visiting the Pearl Fishery Coast and Ceylon once more, he reached Goa in March. There, with a well-born Japanese convert whom he called Anger, he made plans for going to Japan. But first, five new Jesuits recently arrived from home must be stationed in various Portuguese settlements. A training house and a school were established at Goa. All the while preparations for Japan were going forward. At the end of a year Xavier set out with Father Torres, John Fernandez, Anger, henceforth known as Paul, and two native servants who had received baptism. After a short stay in Malacca they boarded a ship and sailed north, landing at Kagoshima, on the Japanese island of Kyushu, on the feast of the Assumption, 1549.

Kagoshima was Paul's native city, and he obtained from the prince of Satsuma province permission for Xavier to preach. While Paul translated and circulated the Creed, the Catechism, and some simple prayers, Xavier set himself to learn the Japanese language. As soon as he could use it fluently, he began to preach. But not long afterward the prince grew angry with the Portuguese merchants because they had abandoned his port of Kagoshima to carry on their trading at Hirado, a better harbor, a little to the north of modern Nagasaki. He withdrew the permission he had given Xavier and threatened to punish any Japanese who became a Christian. The few converts remained faithful and declared they were ready to suffer banishment or death rather than deny Christ. After a year at Kagoshima, Xavier decided to push on to Hirado, carrying on his back all the articles necessary for the celebration of Mass.

On the way he stopped to preach at the fortress of Ekandono, where the prince's steward and the prince's wife were secret believers in the new teaching. When he departed, Xavier left the converts in the steward's care, and twelve years later another missionary found this isolated little group still full of fervor and faithfully practicing their religion. At Hirado the missionaries baptized more converts in twenty days than they had done at Kagoshima in a whole year. Leaving these converts in charge of Father Torres, Xavier and his party set out for Kyoto, the imperial capital, on the main island of Hondo. They went by the beautiful Inland Sea to the port of Yamaguchi, and Xavier preached there, in public and before the local prince. The number of persons interested in his message was small.

After a month's stay at Yamaguchi, where he met with many affronts, Xavier resumed his journey with his companions. It was nearing the end of the year, and they suffered from inclement weather and bad roads. They reached Kyoto in February, and here Xavier found that he could not have an audience with the emperor without paying a large sum of money. Also, the city was in a state of civil disorder, and after a fortnight's stay he returned to Yamaguchi.

Having now learned that evangelical poverty had not the appeal in Japan that it had in Europe and in India, he decided to change his method of approach. Handsomely dressed, with his companions acting as attendants, he presented himself before Oshindono, the ruler of Nagate, and as a representative of the great kingdom of Portugal offered him the letters and presents, a musical instrument, a watch, and other attractive objects which had been given him by the authorities in India for the emperor. Oshindono, pleased with these attentions from an envoy of so great a power, gave Xavier leave to teach in his province, and provided an empty Buddhist temple for his residence. Under these auspices, Xavier preached to such effect that he baptized many.

Hearing after a time that a Portuguese ship had arrived at a port in the province of Bungo in Kyushu and that the prince there would like to see him, Xavier now set out southward again. Among the passengers on the ship was the traveler Fernao Mendez Pinto, who has left an entertaining account of how the seamen received the visits of the highly respected Xavier and of Civan, the young and friendly Japanese grandee who came with him. The Jesuit, in a fine cassock, surplice, and stole, was attended by thirty gentlemen and as many servants, all in their best clothes. Five of them bore on cushions valuable articles, including a portrait of Our Lady and a pair of velvet slippers, these not gifts for the prince, but solemn offerings to Xavier, to impress the onlookers with his eminence!

Thus he opened a way for preaching in Bungo. With the Buddhist priests he had long discussions and even made a few converts among them. One discussion, arranged by the prince, lasted for five days, according to Mendez Pinto. Some of the points argued were puerile, others so lofty that, "I avow," says Mendez, "that my wit is not capable of understanding them." Both he and Xavier mention the mental alertness of the Japanese and their openness to conviction by reasoning, agreeing that "their intellects are as sharp and sensible as any in the world." The threatened persecution of the Christians did not occur, and by the end of 1551 Xavier felt free to take passage on the Portuguese ship back to India, leaving the Japanese converts in charge of Father Torres and Brother Fernandez. He had been in Japan for about two years and had baptized, according to report, some seven hundred and sixty Japanese.

At Malacca he halted long enough to study the possibility of contriving an entry into China, where strangers were forbidden by law to set foot, on pain of death or imprisonment. The governor of Malacca was of the opinion that an informal embassy might be landed in a Chinese port in the name of the King of Portugal, professedly in the interests of mutual trade, and that a few missionaries might go with it. Meanwhile, early in February, 1552, Xavier was back in Goa receiving reports: Brother Gaspar Baertz had been making converts in the city and island of Ormuz, at the entrance to the Persian Gulf. On the Pearl Fishery Coast Christianity was flourishing, even though the native converts were still being terribly exploited by the Portuguese. There was also progress in Cochin, Mylapore, and the Moluccas. The Rajah of Tanore, whose dominions lay on the coast of Malabar, between Goa and Travancore, had been baptized, as had one of the rulers of Ceylon.

On the other hand, Father Antony Gomez, rector of the college at Goa, had been making such innovations in the internal discipline of the Society that Xavier felt obliged to dismiss him, and send him to a distant mission. He appointed Father Baertz rector and vice-provincial, distributed the newly-arrived recruits among all the missions, and obtained from the viceroy a commission for his friend, James Pereira, to go as Portuguese envoy to China. Having thus settled affairs at Goa, he wrote long, detailed letters to the King of Portugal, Loyola, and Simon Rodriguez. Then, after sending final instructions to his scattered missionaries, he bade farewell to his brethren, and with one priest and four lay helpers set sail once more for the east. This was on April 25, 1552.

At Malacca they found that a contagious fever was raging, and Xavier with his companions helped carry the sick people to hospitals. When the plague slackened, he took up the matter of the embassy to China with the new governor, Don Alvaro d'Ataide,[3] who had succeeded his brother, Don Pedro de Silva, Xavier's friend, and who had received instructions from the Viceroy in India to forward the project. But Don Alvaro had a personal grudge against Pereira, and refused to allow him to sail. After a month of fruitless persuasion, Xavier produced the briefs of Pope Paul, which contained his appointment as papal nuncio. He had kept these documents secret up to this time, except from the bishop of Goa. Don Alvaro ignored them; the most he would concede was that Xavier himself might go to China in Pereira's ship, but without its owner, a proposition to which Pereira agreed. As for missionary work in Malacca, it seems that Xavier labored harder for its regeneration than for any other place, with the poorest results. On leaving this time, he took off his shoes and beat out the dust of the place on a rock. "Are you leaving us forever?" the episcopal vicar asked him. "I hope that our Lord will soon send you back to us in peace." "That is as God wills," Xavier replied sadly, climbing into the boat.

Since the project for an embassy failed, Xavier sent three of the Jesuits he had with him on to Japan, and kept only one brother and a young Chinese. With these two he hoped to find a way to land secretly in China. Before leaving Malacca he wrote to thank Pereira, and suggested that he write the King of Portugal an account of the attempt and of the chances of future trade with China. He also wrote to Father Baertz, bidding him go to the bishop of Goa and arrange for the publication in Malacca of the excommunication which Don Alvaro and his abettors had incurred by impeding a papal envoy. Late in August, 1552, he reached the port of Shang-chuen, on an island near the mouth of the Su-kiang River, not far from Canton. From here he wrote more letters. He had found an interpreter, for the Chinese he had brought from Goa knew nothing of the language spoken at court. Then, with difficulty, he had hired a Chinese merchant to land him at night in some part of Canton, and had bound himself by oath never to reveal this man's name. There were some Portuguese traders on the island, and they were out to thwart him, fearing the Chinese would take vengeance on them for Xavier's daring. At this critical juncture Xavier fell ill of a fever. The Portuguese ships in harbor, all but one, departed, and he was reduced to extreme want. The Chinese merchant failed to come for him and the interpreter disappeared. On November 20 fever seized him a second time, and he felt a presentiment of death. He took refuge on the one remaining Portuguese ship, but the rocking of the ship made him feel worse; the next day he asked to be set on land again.

The sailors were afraid to show any kindness to Xavier for fear of offending Don Alvaro. They left him lying on the sands exposed to a piercing wind, until someone carried him into the shelter of a native hut. For two weeks he lay there, lonely and deserted, praying ceaselessly between periods of delirium. His strength ebbed rapidly and on December 3, 1552, with eyes fixed on his crucifix, he murmured: "<In te, Domine, speravi. Non confundar in aeternam>" (In Thee, O Lord, have I put my hope. Let me never be confounded), and died. Although he was only forty-six years old, the severity of his exertions during the ten years of his mission had so aged him that his hair was almost white. The next evening his body was buried in a shallow grave. Only Antony, the Chinese youth, Francis d'Aghiar, the pilot, and two half-caste bearers were at the burial.

The following February the body was removed to Malacca, thence on to Goa, and there it still lies magnificently enshrined in the Church of the Good Jesus. Within a few weeks of Xavier's death Loyola wrote to recall him to Europe for the purpose of making him his successor, in recognition of his heroic work in the Orient. In 1622 Xavier was canonized, along with the founder of the Society of Jesus. Of the Apostle of the Indies Sir Walter Scott wrote: "One cannot deny him the courage and patience of a martyr, with the good sense, resolution, ready wit, and address of the best negotiator that ever went on a temporal embassy." This great mystic and ascetic, to whom the spiritual life was an ever-present reality, had those vital qualities of mind and personality which enabled him to speak to men's hearts and organize their efforts in the spreading of God's word.


<Letter to the Society at Rome>

<May the grace and love of Christ our Lord always help> and favor us ! Amen. . . . Now to speak of what I know you are most anxious to hear about the state of religion in India. In this region of Travancore, where I now am, God has drawn very many to the faith of His Son Jesus Christ. In the space of one month I made Christians of more than ten thousand. This is the method I followed. As soon as I arrived in any heathen village where they had sent for me to give them baptism, I gave orders for all, men, women, and children, to be collected in one place. Then, beginning with the first elements of the Christian faith, I taught them there is one God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; and at the same time, calling on the three divine Persons and one God, I made them each make three times the sign of the Cross; then, putting on a surplice, I began to recite in a loud voice and in their own language the form of the general Confession, the Apostle's Creed, the Ten Commandments, the Lord's Prayer, the <Ave Maria>, and the <Salve Regina>. Two years ago I translated all these prayers into the language of the country, and learned them by heart. I recited them slowly so that all of every age and condition followed me in them.

Then I began to explain shortly the articles of the Creed and the Ten Commandments in the language of the country. Where the people appeared to me sufficiently instructed to receive baptism, I ordered them all to ask God's pardon publicly for the sins of their past life, and to do this with a loud voice and in the presence of their neighbors still hostile to the Christian religion, in order to touch the hearts of the heathen and confirm the faith of the good. All the heathen are filled with admiration at the holiness of the law of God, and express the greatest shame at having lived so long in ignorance of the true God. They willingly hear about the mysteries and rules of the Christian religion, and treat me, poor sinner as I am, with the greatest respect. Many, however, put away from them with hardness of heart the truth which they well know.

When I have done my instruction, I ask one by one all those who desire baptism if they believe without hesitation each of the articles of the faith. All immediately, holding their arms in the form of the Cross, declare with one voice that they believe all entirely. Then at last I baptize them in due form, and I give to each his name written on a ticket. After their baptism the new Christians go back to their houses and bring me their wives and families for baptism. When all are baptized I order all the temples of their false gods to be destroyed and all the idols to be broken in pieces. I can give you no idea of the joy I feel in seeing this done, witnessing the destruction of the idols by the very people who but lately adored them. In all the towns and villages I leave the Christian doctrine in writing in the language of the country, and I prescribe at the same time the manner in which it is to be taught in the morning and evening schools. When I have done all this in one place, I pass to another, and so on successively to the rest. In this way I go all round the country, bringing the natives into the fold of Jesus Christ, and the joy that I feel in this is far too great to be expressed in a letter, or even by word of mouth....

You may judge from this alone, my very dear brothers, what great and fertile harvests this uncultivated field promises to produce. This part of the world is so ready, so teeming with shooting corn, as I may say, that I hope within this very year to make as many as a hundred thousand Christians....

And now what ought you to do when you see the minds of these people so well prepared to receive the seed of the Gospel? May God make known to you His most holy will, and give you at the same time strength and courage to carry it out; and may He in His Providence send as many as possible of you into this country!

The least and most lonely of your brothers, Francis

From Cochin, January 27th, 1545.


<To the Society at Rome>

(LIV)

<May the grace and love of Jesus Christ our Lord always help and> favor us! Amen. . . .

. . . Nearly two hundred miles beyond Molucca there is a region which is called Maurica. Here, many years ago, a great number of the inhabitants became Christians, but having been totally neglected and left, as it were, orphans by the death of the priests who taught them, they have returned to their former barbarous and savage state. It is in every way a land full of perils, and especially to be dreaded by strangers on account of the great ferocity of the natives and the many kinds of poison which it is there common to give in what is eaten and drunk. The fear of this has deterred priests from abroad from going there to help the islanders.

I have considered in what great necessity they are, with no one to instruct them or give them the sacraments, and I have come to think that I ought to provide for their salvation even at the risk of my life. I have resolved to go thither as soon as possible, and to offer my life to the risk. Truly I have put all my trust in God, and I wish as much as is in me to obey the precept of our Lord Jesus Christ: "He that will save his life shall lose it; and he that shall lose his life for My sake shall find it."[4] Words easy in thought but not easy in practice. When the hour comes when life must be lost that you may find it in God, when danger of death is on you, and you see plainly that to obey God you must sacrifice life, then, I know not how, it comes to pass that what before seemed a very clear precept is involved in incredible darkness.... It is in such circumstances that we see clearly how great after all our weakness is, how frail and unstable is our human nature here.

Many friends of mine have prayed me earnestly not to go amongst so barbarous a people. Afterwards, when they saw they gained nothing by prayers or tears, they brought me each what he thought the best possible antidote against poison of all sorts; but I have unrelentingly sent them all back, lest after burdening myself with medicines, I should have another burden which before I was without, that of fear. I had put all my hope in the protection of Divine Providence, and I thought I ought to be on my guard, lest relying on human aid I should lose something of my trust in God. So I thanked them all and earnestly entreated them to pray God for me, for that no more certain remedy could possibly be found....

From Amboyna (May, 1546)

(H. T. Coleridge, <Life and Letters of St. Francis Xavier>, 1872.)


Endnotes:

1 The story of the founding of the Society of Jesus is told in more detail in the life of <Ignatius Loyola>, which follows.

2 According to tradition, St. Thomas, one of the Twelve Apostles, had journeyed east and established Christianity on the southeast coast of India, later suffering martyrdom there. In 1547, two years after St. Francis' visit, the Portuguese rebuilt his shrine at Mylapore.

3 Don Alvaro was a son of Vasco da Gama, discoverer of the sea-route to India.

4 Matthew xvi, 25.

Saint Francis Xavier, Apostle of the Indies and Japan. Celebration of Feast Day is December 3.


Taken from "Lives of Saints", Published by John J. Crawley & Co., Inc.


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