Xavier, St. Francis

, commonly called the Apostle of the Indies, was born April 7, 1506, in Navarre, at the castle of Xavier. His father, Don John de Jasso, was one of the chief counsellors of state to John III. king of Navarre. Among their numerous family of children, of which Francis was the youngest, those that were elder bore the surname of Azpilcueta, the younger that of Xavier. Francis was sent to the university of Paris, in the eighteenth year of his age. He was afterwards admitted master of arts, and tauglit philosophy in the college of Beauvais, with an intention of entering the society of the Sorbonne; but having formed a friendship with Ignatius Loyola, he renounced all establishments, and became one of his first disciples. Xavier then went to Italy, where he attended the sick at the hospital of incurables at Venice, and was ordained priest. Some time after, John III. king of Portugal, having applied to St. Ignatius for some missionaries to preach the gospel in the East Indies, Xavier was chosen for that purpose, who, embarking at Lisbon, April 7, 1541, arrived at Goa, May 6, 1542. In a short time he spread the knowledge of the Christian religion, or, to speak more properly, of the Romish system, over a great part of the continent, and in several of the islands of that remote region. Thence in 1549 he passed into Japan, and laid there, with amazing rapidity, the foundation 'of the famous church which flourished during so many years in that vast empire. His indefatigable zeal prompted him to attempt the conversion of the Chinese, and with this view he embarked for that extensive and powerful kingdom, but died on an island in sight of China, Dec. 2, 1552. The body of this missionary lies interred at Goa, where it is worshipped with the highest marks of devotion. There is also a magnificent church at Cotati dedicated to Xavier, to whom the inhabitants of the Portuguese settlements pay the most devout tribute of veneration and worship. In 1747, the late king of Portugal obtained for Xavier, or rather for his memory, the title of protector of the Indies, from Benedict XIV. | There are two lives of this saint, the one by Tursellinus, and the other by Bouhours, but the latter is little more than a translation from Latin into French of the former, dressed out in a more elegant manner. They both contain the miracles ascribed to this saint, which are among the most absurd and incredible in the annals of superstition. For this, however, Xavier, who appears to have been only a zealous enthusiast, ought not to be censured. He claims no miracles for himself, nor were any such heard of for many years after his death; on the contrary, in his correspondence with his friends, during his mission, he not only makes no mention of miracles, but disclaims all supernatural assistance. For the miracles, therefore, his biographers must be accountable, and we know of no evidence they have produced in confirmation of them. The life of Xavier is not unknown in this country. No less a person than our celebrated poet Dryden published a translation of Bouhours’s Life of Xavier, in 1688, in consequence qf the queen of James II. having, when she solicited a son, recommended herself to Xavier as her patron saint. Besides this, a Wesleyan preacher published, in 1764, anabridgment of Bouhours, as if he had intended to assist bishop Lavington in proving the alliance between the enthusiasm of the methodists and papists. Xavier’s Letters were published at Paris, 1631, 8vo, with some lesser works ascribed to him. 1


Lives as above. Butler’s Lives of the Saints. Douglas’s Criterion. —Mosheim.