St. Francis Xavier
FRANCIS XAVIER, ST. (1506-1552). Born in the family castle of Xavier, near Pamplona in the Basque area of SpanishNavarre on Apr. 7, he was sent to the University of Paris1525, secured his licentiate in 1528, met Ignatius Loyola and became one of the seven who in 1534, at Montmartre founded the Society of Jesus. In 1536 he left Paris to join Ignatius in Venice, from whence they all in tended to go as missionaries to Palestine (a trip which never materialized), was ordained there in 1537, went to Rome in 1538, and in 1540, when the pope formally recognized the Society, was ordered, with Fr. Simon Rodriguez, to the Far East as the first Jesuit missionaries. King John III kept Fr. Simon in Lisbon, but Francis, after a year's voyage, six months of which were spent at Mozambique where he preached and gave aid to the sick eventually arrived in Goa, India in 1542 with Fr. Paul of Camerino an Italian, and Francis Mansihas, a Portuguese. There he began preaching to the natives and attempted to reform his fellow Europeans, living among the natives and adopting their customs on his travels. During the next decade he converted tens of thousands to Christianity. He visited the Paravas at the tip of India. near Cape Comorin, Tuticorin (1542), Malacca (1545), the Moluccas near New Guinea and Morotai near the Philippines (1546-47), andJapan (1549- 51). In 1551, India and the East were set up as a separate province and Ignatius made Francis its first provincial. In 1552 he set out for China, landed on the island of Sancian within sight of his goal, but died before he reached the mainland. Working against great difficulties, language problems ( contrary to legend, he had no proficiency in foreign tongues ), inadequate funds, and lack of cooperation, often actual resistance, from European officials, he left themark of his missionary zeal and energy on areas which clung to Christianity for centuries. He was canonized in 1622 and proclaimed patron of all foreign missions by Pope Pius X. F. D. Dec. 3.
Francis Xavier, born Francisco de Jasso y Azpilicueta (7 April 1506 – 3 December 1552), was aRoman Catholic missionary born in Xavier, Kingdom of Navarre (now part of Spain), and co-founder of the Society of Jesus. He was a student of Ignatius of Loyola and one of the first seven Jesuits, dedicated at Montmartre in 1534. He led an extensive mission into Asia, mainly in the Portuguese Empire of the time. He was influential in the spreading and upkeep of Catholicism most notably in India, but also ventured into Japan, Borneo, the Maluku Islands, and other areas which had thus far not been visited by Christian missionaries. In these areas, being a pioneer and struggling to learn the local languages in the face of opposition, he had less success than he had enjoyed in India. It was a goal of Xavier to one day reach China.
Francis Xavier was born in the castle of Xavier, in the Kingdom of Navarre, on 7 April 1506 according to a family register. He was born to an aristocratic family of the Kingdom of Navarre, the youngest son of Juan de Jaso, privy counselor to King John III of Navarre (Jean d'Albret), and Doña Maria de Azpilcueta y Aznárez, sole heiress of two noble Navarrese families. He was thus related to the great theologian and philosopher Martín de Azpilcueta. Notwithstanding different interpretations on his first language, no evidence suggests that Xavier's mother tongue was other than Basque, as stated by himself and confirmed by the sociolinguistic environment of the time.
The castle of the Xavier family was later acquired by the Society of Jesus.
In 1512 under Ferdinand the Catholic as King of the first political unit referred to as Spain, joint Spanish troops from both the Crown of Castile and the Crown of Aragon commanded by Fadrique Álvarez de Toledo, second Duke of Alba, first invaded partially the Kingdom of Navarre. Three years later, Francis' father died when Francis was only nine years old. In 1516, Francis' brothers participated in a failed Navarrese-French attempt to expel the Spanish invaders from the kingdom, and the Spanish Castilian kingdom's Governor Cardinal Cisneros ordered to confiscate the family lands, demolish the outer wall, the gates and two towers of the family castle, and fill in the moat. In addition, the height of the keep was reduced in half. Only the family residence inside the castle was left. In 1522 a brother of Xavier is found along with another 200 Navarrese earls staging dogged but failed resistance against the Castilian Count of Miranda in Amaiur, Baztan, the last Navarrese territorial position south of the Pyrenees.
For the following years with his family, till he left for studies in Paris in 1525, Francis' life in the Kingdom of Navarre, then partially occupied by Spain, was surrounded by a war that lasted over 18 years, ending with the Kingdom of Navarre being partitioned into two territories, and the King of Navarre and some loyalists abandoning the south and moving to the northern part of the Kingdom of Navarre (currently France).
In 1525, Francis went to study at the Collège Sainte-Barbe in Paris. In 1530 he received the degree of Master of Arts, and afterwards taught Aristotelian philosophy at Beauvais college. He met Ignatius of Loyola, who became his faithful companion, and Pierre Favre at Sainte-Barbe. While at the time he seemed destined for academic success, Xavier turned to a life of Catholic missionary service. Ignatius is said to have posed the question, "What will it profit a man to gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?"
Together with Loyola and five others, he founded the Society of Jesus: on 15 August 1534, in a small chapel in Montmartre, they made vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, and also vowed to convert the Muslims in the Middle East (or, failing this, carry out the wishes of the Pope). Francis went, with the rest of the members of the newly papal-approved Jesuit order, to Venice to be ordained to the priesthood, which took place on 24 June 1537. Towards the end of October, the seven companions reached Bologna, where they worked in the local hospital. After that, he served for a brief period in Rome as Ignatius' secretary.
Leaving Rome in 1540, Francis took with him a breviary, a catechism and a Latin book (De Institutione bene vivendi) written by the Croatian humanist Marko Marulić that had become popular in the counter-reformation. According to a 1549 letters of F. Balthasar Gago in Goa, it was the only book that Francis read or studied.
Francis Xavier was the first Jesuit missionary. Francis devoted much of his life to missions in Asia, after being requested by King John III of Portugal to travel to Portuguese India, where the king believed that Christian values were eroding among the Portuguese. After successive appeals to the Pope asking
for missionaries for the East Indies under thePadroado agreement, John III was encouraged by Diogo de Gouveia, rector of the Collège Sainte-Barbe, to recruit the newly graduated youngsters that would establish the Society of Jesus.
His growing information about new places indicated to him that he had to go to what he understood were centers of influence for tFrancisco Xavier asking John III of Portugal for an expedition.he whole region. China loomed large from his days in India. Japan was particularly attractive because of its culture. For him, these areas were interconnected; they could not be evangelized separately.
Francis Xavier moved mainly in four centers: Malacca, Amboina and Ternate, Japan, and China.
Goa and India
He left Lisbon on 7 April 1541, Xavier's thirty-fifth birthday, along with two other Jesuits and the newviceroy Martim Afonso de Sousa, on board the Santiago. As he departed, Francis was given a brief from the pope appointing him apostolic nuncio to the East. From August until March 1542 he remained inPortuguese Mozambique, and arrived in Goa, then capital of Portuguese India on 6 May 1542, thirteen months after leaving Lisbon.
Following quickly on the great voyages of discovery, the Portuguese had established themselves at Goa thirty years earlier. Francis' primary mission, as ordered by King John III, was to restore Christianity among the Portuguese settlers. The Christian population had churches, clergy, and a bishop, but many of the Portuguese were ruled by ambition, avarice, revenge, and debauchery. They ignored the tenets and sacraments of the church and tended to shock and alienate the natives by their behavior. There were a few preachers but no priests beyond the walls of Goa. To meet this challenging situation Xavier decided that he must begin by instructing the Portuguese themselves in the principles of faith, and gave 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. 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. He was invited to head Saint Paul's College, a pioneer seminary for the education of secular priests that became the first Jesuit headquarters in Asia.
He devoted almost three years to the work of preaching to the people of southern India, converting many, and reaching in his journeys even the Island of Ceylon (Sri Lanka). Many were the difficulties and hardships which Xavier had to encounter at this time, sometimes because the Portuguese soldiers, far from seconding his work, hampered it by their bad example and vicious habits. He built nearly 40 churches along the coast, including St. Stephen's Church, Kombuthurai, mentioned in his letters dated 1544.
During this time, he was able to visit the tomb of St. Thomas the Apostle in Mylapore, (now part of Madras (Chennai) then in Portuguese India). He set his sights eastward in 1545 and planned a missionary journey to Makassar on the island of Celebes (today's Indonesia).
Conversion of the Paravars by Francis Xavier in Goa, in a 19th-century colored lithograph.
As the first Jesuit in India, Francis had difficulty achieving much success in his missionary trips. His successors, such as de Nobili, Matteo Ricci, and Beschi, attempted to convert the noblemen first as a means to influence more people, while Francis had initially interacted most with the lower classes (later though, in Japan, Francis changed tack by paying tribute to the Emperor and seeking an audience with him).
In the spring of 1545 Xavier started for Portuguese Malacca. He laboured there for the last months of that year. About January, 1546, Xavier left Malacca and went to the Maluku Islands, where the Portuguese had some settlements, and for a year and a half he preached the Gospel to the inhabitants of Ambon Island where he stayed until mid-June. he then visited other Maluku Islandsincluding Ternate, Baranura, and Morotai.Shortly after Easter 1546, he returned to Ambon Island and later Malacca.
In Malacca in December, 1547, Francis Xavier met a Japanese man named Anjirō. Anjirō had heard of Francis in 1545 and had traveled from Kagoshima to Malacca with the purpose of meeting with him. Having been charged with murder, Anjirō had fled Japan. He told Francis extensively about his former life and the customs and culture of his beloved homeland. Anjiro helped Xavier as a mediator and translator for the mission to Japan that now seemed much more possible. Anjirō became the first Japanese Christian and adopted the name of 'Paulo de Santa Fe'.
In January 1548 Francis returned to Goa to attend to his responsibilities as superior of the mission there. The next 15 months were occupied with various journeys and administrative measures. He left Goa on 15 April 1549, stopped at Malacca and visited Canton. He was accompanied by Anjiro, two other Japanese men, the father Cosme de Torrès and Brother João Fernandes. He had taken with him presents for the "King of Japan" since he was intending to introduce himself as the Apostolic Nuncio.
Europeans had already come to Japan: the Portuguese had landed in 1543 on the island of Tanegashima, where they introduced the first firearms to Japan.
From Amboina, he wrote to his companions in Europe: "I asked a Portuguese merchant, … who had been for many days in Anjirô’s country of Japan, to give me … some information on that land and its people from what he had seen and heard …. All the Portuguese merchants coming from Japan tell me that if I go there I shall do great service for God our Lord, more than with the pagans of India, for they are a very reasonable people. (To His Companions Residing in Rome, From Cochin, January 20, 1548, no. 18, p. 178).
Francis Xavier reached Japan on 27 July 1549, with Anjiro and three other Jesuits, but he was not permitted to enter any port his ship arrived at until 15 August, when he went ashore atKagoshima, the principal port of the province of Satsuma on the island of Kyūshū. As a representative of the Portuguese king, he was received in a friendly manner. Shimazu Takahisa (1514–1571), daimyo of Satsuma, gave a friendly reception to Francis on 29 September 1549, but in the following year he forbade the conversion of his subjects to Christianity under penalty of death; Christians in Kagoshima could not be given any catechism in the following years. The Portuguese missionary Pedro de Alcáçova would later write in 1554:
In Cangoxima, the first place Father Master Francisco stopped at, there were a good number of Christians, although there was no one there to teach them; the shortage of laborers prevented the whole kingdom from becoming Christian.
He was hosted by Anjiro's family until October 1550. From October to December 1550, he resided in Yamaguchi.
Shortly before Christmas, he left for Kyoto but failed to meet with the Emperor. He returned to Yamaguchi in March, 1551, where he was permitted to preach by the daimyo of the province. However, lacking fluency in the Japanese language, he had to limit himself to reading aloud the translation of a catechism.
Francis was the first Jesuit to go to Japan as a missionary. He brought with him paintings of the Madonna and the Madonna and Child. These paintings were used to help teach the Japanese about Christianity. There was a huge language barrier as Japanese was unlike other languages the missionaries had previously encountered. For a long time Francis struggled to learn the language.
Having 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. 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. 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. 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.
For forty-five years the Jesuits were the only missionaries in Asia, but the Franciscans also began proselytizing in Asia as well. Christian missionaries were later forced into exile, along with their assistants. Some were able to stay behind, however Christianity was then kept underground as to not be persecuted.
The Japanese people were not easily converted; many of the people were already Buddhist or Shinto. Francis tried to combat the disposition of some of the Japanese that a God who had created everything, including evil, could not be good. The concept of Hell was also a struggle; the Japanese were bothered by the idea of their ancestors living in Hell. Despite Francis' different religion, he felt that they were good people, much like Europeans, and could be converted.
Xavier was welcomed by the Shingon monks since he used the word Dainichi for the Christian God; attempting to adapt the concept to local traditions. As
Xavier learned more about the religious nuances of the word, he changed to Deusu from the Latin and Portuguese Deus. The monks later realized that Xavier was preaching a rival religion and grew more aggressive towards his attempts at conversion.
With the passage of time, his sojourn in Japan could be considered somewhat fruitful as attested by congregations established in Hirado, Yamaguchiand Bungo. Xavier worked for more than two years in Japan and saw his successor-Jesuits established. He then decided to return to India. Historians debate the exact path he returned by, but from evidence attributed to the captain of his ship, he may have traveled through Tanegeshima and Minato, and avoided Kagoshima because of the hostility of the Daimyo. During his trip, a tempest forced him to stop on an island near Guangzhou, China where he saw the rich merchant Diogo Pereira, an old friend from Cochin, who showed him a letter from Portuguese being held prisoners in Guangzhou asking for a Portuguese ambassador to talk to the Chinese Emperor in their favor. Later during the voyage, he stopped at Malacca on 27 December 1551, and was back in Goa by January, 1552.
On 17 April he set sail with Diogo Pereira, leaving Goa on board the Santa Cruz for China. He introduced himself as Apostolic Nuncio and Pereira as ambassador of the King of Portugal. Shortly thereafter, he realized that he had forgotten his testimonial letters as an Apostolic Nuncio. Back in Malacca