Saint Francis Xavier
Saint of the Day for December 3
(April 7, 1506 – December 3, 1552)
Life of Francis Xavier
Francis Xavier was born in the royal castle of Xavier, in the Kingdom of Navarre, on 7 April 1506 according to a family register. He was the youngest son of Juan de Jasso y Atondo, seneschal of Xavier castle, who belonged to a prosperous farming family and had acquired a doctorate in law at the University of Bologna, and later became privy counselor and finance minister to King John III of Navarre (Jean d’Albret). Francis’ mother was Doña María de Azpilcueta y Aznárez, sole heiress of two noble Navarrese families. He was thus related to the great theologian and philosopher Martín de Azpilcueta. Notwithstanding different interpretations on his first language, no evidence suggests that Xavier’s mother tongue was other than Basque, as stated by himself, and confirmed by the sociolinguistic environment of the time.[A]
In 1512, Ferdinand, King of Aragon and regent of Castile, invaded Navarre, initiating a war that lasted over 18 years. Three years later, Francis’ father died when Francis was only nine years old. In 1516, Francis’s brothers participated in a failed Navarrese-French attempt to expel the Spanish invaders from the kingdom. The Spanish Governor, Cardinal Cisneros, confiscated the family lands, demolished the outer wall, the gates, and two towers of the family castle, and filled in the moat. In addition, the height of the keep was reduced by half. Only the family residence inside the castle was left. In 1522 one of Francis’s brothers participated with 200 Navarrese nobles in dogged but failed resistance against the Castilian Count of Miranda in Amaiur, Baztan, the last Navarrese territorial position south of the Pyrenees.
Until he left for studies in Paris in 1525, Francis’ life was surrounded by this war, which ended with Spanish conquest of Navarre in 1530.
In 1525, Francis went to study at the Collège Sainte-Barbe, University of Paris, where he would spend the next eleven years. In the early days he acquired some reputation as an athlete and a fine high-jumper.
In 1529, Francis shared lodgings with his friend Pierre Favre. A new student, Ignatius of Loyola, came to room with them. At 38, Ignatius was much older than Pierre and Francis, who were both 23 at the time. Pierre was won over by Ignatius to become a priest, but Francis had aspirations of worldly advancement. At first Francis was not much taken with Ignatius. He regarded the new lodger as a joke and was sarcastic about his efforts to convert students.  Only after Pierre left their lodgings to visit his family, when Ignatius was alone with the proud Navarrese, was he was able to slowly break down Francis’s stubborn resistance. According to most biographies Ignatius is said to have posed the question: “What will it profit a man to gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” However, according to James Broderick such method is not characteristic of Ignatius and there is no evidence that he employed it at all.
On 15 August 1534, seven students met in a crypt beneath the Church of Saint Denis (now Saint Pierre de Montmartre), in Montmartre outside Paris. They were Francis, Ignatius of Loyola, Alfonso Salmeron, Diego Laínez, Nicolás Bobadilla from Spain, Peter Faber from Savoy, and Simão Rodrigues from Portugal. They made private vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience to the Pope, and also vowed to go to the Holy Land to convert infidels. Francis began his study of theology in 1534 and was ordained on June 24, 1537.
Then read as much as you like from there on.
Image: Peter Paul Rubens [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
File:Peter Paul Rubens – The miracles of St. Francis Xavier – Google Art Project.jpg – Wikimedia Commons. 2016. File:Peter Paul Rubens – The miracles of St. Francis Xavier – Google Art Project.jpg – Wikimedia Commons. [ONLINE] Available at: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3APeter_Paul_Rubens_-_The_miracles_of_St._Francis_Xavier_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg. [Accessed 03 December 2016]
Early Life: Wikipedia. 2016. Francis Xavier – Wikipedia. [ONLINE] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Xavier#Early_life. [Accessed 03 December 2016].