Biography of San Francisco Javier (1506-1552)

Spanish religious, one of the first members of the society of Jesus, patron and protector of the Catholic missions and missionary par excellence, born in the castle of Javier (Navarra), where his family lived from April 7, 1506 and died on the island of Sancian (Shangchuan), at the gates of China, December 3, 1552.

Fifth and last child of Juan de Jaso and of María de Azpilcueta. His father was President of the Royal Council of Queen Catherine of Foix, married to the French Juan de Albret. Orphaned of father was in 1515. As a clergyman (tonsurado) of Pamplona was the University of Paris in 1525 with the desire for high ecclesiastical dignities. In the school of Santa Barbara became friends with Pedro Fabro and Ignatius of Loyola in 1529, and the following year obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree.

The death of his sister Magdalene (Lady of Queen Isabella and then clarisa) provoked in him a change of life that Ignacio de Loyola knew how to redirect to the society of Jesus. With six other teammates made the 15 of August of 1534 votes in Montmartre and followed the spiritual exercises under the direction of Ignacio. He/She was ordained priest in Venice on June 24, 1537, and was also the first Secretary of the company (1539-1540). He/She was sent to the India in March 1540 when Juan III of Portugal and Paul III asked Ignacio priests missionaries to those lands.

He sailed for India, on April 7, 1541, as apostolic nuncio, "for all the land East of the Cape of good hope". He/She made scale in Mozambique, and reached Goa, the capital of Portuguese India, on May 6, 1542. He/She began along the coast of Comorin (October 1542-1544), and visited, between December 1544 and 1545 August, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Malacca, the Moluccas (Ambon, Morotai) and, again, Malacca (between September 1545 and December 1547). Back to the India was on the coast of fishery, Goa, Cochin, and may 31, 1540, returned to Malacca to move to Japan, where he/she arrived from August 15, 1549, together with Spanish Jesuits Cosme de Torres and brother Juan Fernández. He/She began Mission in Kagoshima, visited the daimyo of Satsuma in September 1549 and made two trips to the island of Hirado (1550 and 1551) and Yamaguchi (between October of 1550 and March 1551). In November 1551, he/she decided to move to China, after understanding that to evangelize Japan before to achieve the conversion of the Chinese. He/She arrived in Shangchuan island in August 1552, but an attack of Pleurisy decreased its forces and died on December 3 in a hut on the coast.

Ignatius of Loyola not met his death until several years later, and then, asked that you find out everything about his life. The incorrupt body was born in triumph to Goa, where still being revered.

He learned the languages was found and attempted to educate children; He/She founded the kanakappilei or catechists lay, married, who is responsible for the churches, drafted a way of praying for adults, two Catechisms for children and an instruction for your catechists. In India he/she baptized 21.100 people and in Maluku to 5,800. It was rather pessimistic with their own work because he/she was aware of not familiar with Indian culture.

In Japan he/she was baptized about 1000 people. He/She began preaching among the feudal lords, and wanted to visit the Emperor, as well as dialogue with the monks. He/She admitted that if the pagans were open to good, if they are faithful to their God and live according to nature, God will give them the grace for their salvation. Despite their dedication and learning other languages, failed to learn Japanese, and in China it could do almost nothing.

He was one of the great missionaries of Christianity and an excellent Organizer Apostolic. His letters reveal a Holy mystical and sympathetic, with a fascinating personality. He/She was beatified by Gregory XV in 1619 and canonized March 12, 1622. In 1904 was declared Patron Saint of the works for the propagation of the faith, and in 1927 was proclaimed by I Pio XI employer Universal mission, together with Santa Teresita del Niño Jesús.


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O´Neill, ch. E. & DOMÍNGUEZ, J. M. Diccionario history of the society of Jesus, 4 vol. Madrid-Roma, 2001.

ROUND, J. M. Xavier French. Pamplona, 1970.

SCHURHAMMER, G. Franz Xaver. Sein Leben und sein Zeit, 4 vol. Freiburg 1955-1973 (trad.esp. Bilbao 1992).

Enrique García Hernan