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Wednesday, 24 July 2024

Events for Saturday 3rd December 2022

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St Francis Xavier

Starts 12:00 Ends 21:00


St Francis Xavier SJ 1506-1552
Francis was born in the family castle of Xavier, near Pamplona, in the Basque area of Navarre, in Northern Spain. He was sent to the University of Paris. A young Spanish gentleman, in the days of the Reformation, he was making a name for himself as a professor of philosophy at the University when he met a compatriot,
Ignatius of Loyola.

"What does it profit a man to gain the entire world, if he suffers the loss of his soul?"
Ignatius often repeated this to the brilliant young teacher. The words of Christ, along with the example of Ignatius and his disciples, prevailed. It was not long before Francis decided to labour for the glory of God, by adopting the evangelical life of an apostle, to which he was called. He was among the first five members of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), those who with Ignatius made their religious vows in the church of Montmartre in Paris, on the feast of the Assumption in 1534.

In 1536, at age 30, he left Paris to join Ignatius in Venice, from where they all intended to embark as missionaries to Palestine (a trip which never materialized). He was ordained in Venice in 1537, went to Rome in 1538, and in 1540, when the pope formally recognized the Society, he was sent to the Far East with the first Jesuit missionaries.

For twelve years he laboured to win souls, sleeping only three hours a night, eating very little, and bearing the Gospel to Hindustan, to Malacca, and as far as Japan. He travelled thousands of miles, mostly on foot, tolerated appalling conditions on long sea voyages, and saw the greater part of the Far East.

He sought and helped the sick and the forgotten, preached in the streets, and taught children the catechism. The gift of tongues and miracles accompanied him everywhere; he resurrected several dead persons and calmed storms. He baptized so many that his arm became virtually disabled; ten thousand in a single month in the kingdom of Trevancor, where in the same space of time he saw to the building of forty-five churches.

At Meliapour, site of the martyrdom of
Saint Thomas, he found the marble on which the Apostle was sacrificed, and which exuded blood the first time Mass was said upon it.

From India he went to Japan; Saint Francis is called Apostle of Japan as well as of India. In 1552 he set out for China. It was on December 2nd, 1552, that the Apostle of the Indies died on Sancian, an island facing the city of Canton in China, like Moses, in sight of the promised land.

During the course of his short priestly and missionary life - he died at 46 years of age - he had worked against great difficulties, language problems (contrary to legend, he had no proficiency in foreign languages), inadequate funds, and lack of cooperation, often actual resistance, from European officials. He left the mark of his missionary zeal and energy on areas which clung to Christianity for centuries.

He was canonized on March 12th,1622 and proclaimed patron of all foreign missions by Pope Pius X. His feast day is December 3rd.


The Novena of Grace to St Francis Xavier, from 4th March until March 12th, the date of his canonisation, is traditional in many places. The intercessory powers of this saint are legendary. The cure of Father Marcello Mastrilli, who later went on mission, and to martyrdom, added to the spread of this novena.

At Naples, in December, 1633, Father Marcello Mastrilli, S.J. was at the point of death. The Saint appeared to him and, asked him to renew a vow he had made to labour in Japan. Then St Francis said,

"All those who implore my help daily for nine consecutive days, from the 4th to the 12th of March included, and worthily receive the Sacraments of Penance and the Holy Eucharist on one of the nine days, will experience my protection and may hope with entire assurance to obtain from God any grace they ask for the good of their souls and the glory of God."

The priest arose, instantly cured. So well has the Saint kept this promise that this devotion in his honour became universally known as the Novena of Grace. It is not restricted to the dates mentioned. It may be made also from November 25 -December 3, the Feast of St. Francis Xavier. Though any prayers can be said in honour of the Saint, these are usual:

The Novena of Grace.

O most kind and loving saint, in union with you I adore the Divine Majesty. The remembrance of the favours with which God blessed you during life, and of your glory after death, fills me with joy; and I unite with you in offering to God my humble tribute of thanksgiving and of praise.

I ask you to secure for me, through your powerful intercession, the all important blessing of living and dying in the state of grace. I also beseech you to obtain the favour I ask in this Novena (here ask the favour you wish to obtain), but if what I ask is not for the glory of God, or for the good of my soul, obtain for me what is most conducive to both.

(Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father)

O God, who was pleased to gather unto your Church the people of the East, by the preaching and miracles of blessed Francis, mercifully grant that we who honour his glorious merits, may also imitate the example of his virtues, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen


St Francis Xavier
Another Patron Saint of the Missions