Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Saint Francis Xavier

The Greatest Missionary since St Paul

 A Brief Background of St Francis Xavier

Born on April 7th 1506, in Xavier in Northern Spain,
Francis was born into a wealthy aristocratic family and was sent to study in Paris at the age of 19. 
Francis took an interest in sports and the night life in Paris, but remained unfocused until meeting Ignatius of Loyola, who guided him through his “30 days of prayer”
From this interaction Francis became one of the seven original companions in the new order of “The Society Of Jesus”, now known as the Jesuits.
Francis was ordained a priest in Venice, in 1537.

Francis was sent to India, Sri Lanka,  Malaysia, Singapore and onto Japan, along the way he converted many people to Christianity. Baptising and Blessing people, and holding the hands of the sick and dying, comforting them.

Francis learned to speak Japanese in one year of living in the country, but had also learned basic prayers in over 20 other languages!

In 1552, Francis set of for China, but he never touched the mainland, dying of a fever on the island of Shangchuan, 14kilometeres of the coast.
Shrine dedicated to St Francis Xavier in the Basilica of  Bom Jesus

Francis was recognised as a Saint on March 12 1622 – the same day as Ignatius Loyola.
Francis is the patron saint of all missions of the Catholic Church, as well as the Patron Saint of Australia, Borneo, China, East Indies, Goa, Japan and New Zealand, His Feast day is celebrated on December 3rd

An Incorrupt Body

St Francis Xavier was 46 years old when he died on Shangchuan island on December 3rd 1552

Two months later a merchant ship arrived and crew member opened his grave to discover that Xaviers body was “as fresh as on the day he died”
St Francis Xavier's right arm

The sailor cut off a piece of flesh to show his Captain as proof. The body was put on the ship and taken to Malacca, where it was vandalised further.
A Jesuit superior secretly removed the body and stored it in a casket until it could be taken away by ship to Goa in 1553. Goa India was where St Francis Xavier first began his missionary work, it is also the first place his body was put on display in March 1554

The Superior General of Jesuits arranged for the right forearm to be detached from the body in 1614 so that it could be displayed as a Holy Relic in the Church of Gesu in Rome. The Relic has only been removed from Gesu on four other occasions.

In April 1994 a forensic examination was carried out in the presence of a team from an English television network to certify the bodies deceased but largely intact state!

His body remains in the basilica of Bom Jesus – Every 10 years his body is exposed for veneration, in 2005 over 2 million people honoured him

October 17th 2012 - Adelaide, South Australia
Australia is very blessed by the Jesuits leaders in Gesu, allowing the right arm of St. Francis Xavier to travel to Australia for the Bishops "Year of Grace", only the 4th time the Holy relic has left Gesu in almost 400 hundred years!
We travelled into Adelaide City to the Cathedral of St Francis Xavier to witness the Holy Relic for ourselves, to be in its presence, something that may never happen again in this country in our lifetime.
St Francis Xavier Cathedral is a beautiful setting for such a Holy Relic, and we were very lucky that upon our visit, the Church was all but empty, allowing us time to gaze, ponder and pray.

Some of our photos are displayed below, more can be found on our facebook project
"Churches and Cemeteries in South Australia"
for more on the year of Grace visit:

Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam