Five Reasons to Love St. Francis Xavier
Co-Founder of the Jesuits: St. Francis Xavier was one of the co-founders of the Jesuits (Society of Jesus), along with St. Ignatius of Loyola, Blessed Peter Favre, and four other men. The Jesuits focused on evangelization throughout the world, and also participated in the Counter-Reformation. Because of their vow of obedience and willingness to spread the Word to remote areas of the world, Francis Xavier was sent first to the Portuguese areas in India. His first foreign mission as a Jesuit was to reform and strengthen the Catholic virtues which were seen to be in decline among the people there.
His Missionary Work: Francis Xavier was a missionary extraordinaire. He is widely regarded as the greatest missionary since St. Paul due to the sheer number of people he converted and lands he traveled. Francis Xavier took the message of Christ to the East into areas that had little to no experience with Christianity before. In a short span of only 10 years from 1542 - 1552, Francis Xavier managed to visit multiple countries; his estimated number of converts during that time are in the 40,000 - 50,000 people.
He is Incorrupt: Francis Xavier joins the group of more than 250 known saints whose bodies are incorrupt., saint such as the Cure d’Ars, St. Catherine Laboure, St. Maria Goretti, and St. Padre Pio. Francis Xavier is still freshly preserved though he died more than 450 years ago. His body was discovered to be incorrupt a year after his death. His body was reburied more than once and also moved around until he came to stay in Goa (the capital of Portuguese India) in 1637. His body is still there today encased in glass, with the exception of his right forearm. That was removed in 1614, and it resides on display in the main Jesuit house in Rome.
Co-Patron Saint of Missionary Activity: Above all things, Francis Xavier desired to reach China. In the spring of 1552, he headed to China by ship. After experiencing some difficulties, he finally landed on the Chinese island of Shangchuan very near the coast of the main land. Initially, he could not get anyone to take him onward and waited through the fall. He finally made arrangements to bribe a ship captain toward the latter part of November. However, he fell ill with a fever while waiting to go, and died on December 3, 1552. Though he never made it to China, he went to many other countries such as such as India, Indonesia, Borneo, and Japan -- an astonishing feat considering the time in which he lived. His success as an organizer and teacher became a framework for future Jesuit missions. His co-patron of Missionary Activity is St. Therese of the Little Flower.
Novena of Grace: Francis Xavier is the inspiration for the popular “Novena of Grace”. As the story goes, there was a Jesuit priest, Fr. Marcello Mastrilli, who desired to go as a missionary to Japan. At the time, in the 1600’s, the Japanese tortured (and subsequently martyred) many, many missionaries and faithful by hanging them upside down over a volcanic pit. While waiting to go to Japan, Fr. Mastrilli was injured by a hammer falling upon his head. As he was near death, Francis Xavier appeared to the priest and said,
"All those who implore my help daily for nine consecutive days, from the fourth to the twelfth of March inclusive and worthily receive the Sacraments of Penance and Holy Communion on one of the nine days will experience my protection and may hope with entire assurance to obtain from God any Grace they ask that is for the good of their souls and the glory of God."
Immediately Fr. Mastrilli was cured, and subsequently went to Japan with a group of Jesuits. He was captured soon after he arrived and was sent to “The Pit”. He was martyred after 12 days of suffering. The news of Fr. Mastrillis cure at the hands of St. Francis Xavier, however, had already begun to spread in Europe and elsewhere. . Others prayed his words and received intercession. The prayers became know as the “Novena of Grace”.
The Novena of Grace is as follows:
"Most amiable and most loving Saint Francis Xavier, in union with thee I reverently adore the Divine Majesty. I rejoice exceedingly on account of the marvelous gifts which God bestowed upon thee. I thank God for the special graces He gave thee during thy life on earth and for the great glory that came to thee after thy death. I implore thee to obtain for me, through thy powerful intercession, the greatest of all blessings--that of living and dying in the state of grace. I also beg of thee to secure for me the special favor I ask in this novena. (Here you may mention the grace, spiritual or temporal, that you wish to obtain.) In asking this favor, I am fully resigned to the Divine Will. I pray and desire only to obtain that which is most conducive to the greater glory of God and the greater good of my soul."
It is then customary to say:
V. Pray for us, Saint Francis Xavier.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
O God, Who didst vouchsafe, by the preaching and miracles of Saint Francis Xavier, to join unto Thy Church the nations of the Indies, grant, we beseech Thee, that we who reverence his glorious merits may also imitate his example, through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen.
Then add 3 Our Father's and 3 Hail Mary's in memory of Saint Francis Xavier's devotion to the Most Holy Trinity, and Glory be to the Father 10 times in thanksgiving for the graces received during his 10 years of apostleship.