Saint Francis Xavier was born Navarre on April 7, 1506. Xavier grew up planning to become a professor, but in 1525, he enrolled in the collège de Sainte-Barbe, in Paris, where he became friends with Ignatius of Loyola. It was at this time that Ignatius had plans to form the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). Xavier became interested in this society, and went on to become one of its founding members.
On November 15, 1536, after having finished his studies in Paris, Xavier traveled to Venice, where he tended the sick, which included washing the sores of lepers. Then, in 1537, he and Ignatius received "Holy" orders to travel to Rome, where they were to conduct apostolic work. It was shortly after that, that plans for a more concrete Society of Jesus were constructed. Shortly after the plans for the society were approved, the King of Portugal (John III) sent Xavier to the East Indies, to spread the word of Jesus. Xavier reached Lisbon in June of 1540, and began to make known the brilliance of Jesus.
After nine months in Lisbon, Xavier continued his missionary work to Goa, a city in India. It was there that he spent nearly three years trying to save as many people as he could from eternal damnation in hell, by converting them. It was said that he would walk the streets of Goa, ringing a bell to gather children, which he would then lead to a church, where he would teach them about the catechism. At the end of his three-year mission in Goa, it is said that he had converted the entire town.
From 1545 - 1547, Xavier spread the word of God in Malacca and the Molucca Islands. This particular spiritual expedition is remembered as less than completely successful, as he was not able to overcome some of the deeply rooted "sin" of some of the natives. However, it was in Malacca, in 1547, that Xavier met Anger, a Japanese man that he later baptized, and gave the name Pablo de Santa Fe. From Anger, Xavier learned a great deal about Japan, and felt that he it was part of his mission to spread the word of Christ there.
Xavier, accompanied by Pablo de Santa Fe, arrived in Kagoshima (Japan), in August of 1549, where he spent an entire year learning the language, and translating articles of faith into Japanese. Soon after Xavier began preaching to the people of Kagoshima, he was banished from the city. Xavier then made his way to the center of Japan, stopping along the way in cities long enough to start several Christian communities. In 1551, Xavier returned to Goa. However, the problems started by this increase in the Christian faith in Japan did not end at simple religious disputes, but actually caused a complete eradication of Christianity, and those who considered themselves Christians. This conflict is known as the Shimabara Rebellion.
After returning to Goa, Xavier decided that his next mission would be to China. So, in April of 1552, he set out by sea to the island of Sancian. Then, while planning the best route of travel to Mainland China, Xavier took ill, and, shortly after that, died.
In his lifetime, it is estimated that Xavier visited upwards of 12 foreign countries, and converted no less than 40,000 to the Christian faith. It was for his diligence to the Jesuit cause in Asian countries that he is remembered as the Apostle to the Far East. The body of Saint Francis Xavier is enshrined in a Jesuit church in Goa.
This is a prayer written by Xavier:
Eternal God, Creator of all things, remember that You alone has created the souls of unbelievers, which You have made according to Your Image and Likeness. Behold, O Lord, how to Your dishonor many of them are falling into Hell. Remember, O Lord, Your Son Jesus Christ, Who so generously shed His Blood and suffered for them. Do not permit that Your Son, Our Lord, remain unknown by unbelievers, but, with the help of Your Saints and the Church, the Bride of Your Son, remember Your mercy, forget their idolatry and infidelity, and make them know Him, Who You have sent, Jesus Christ, Your Son, Our Lord, Who is our salvation, our life, and our resurrection, through Whom we have been saved and redeemed, and to Whom is due glory forever. Amen.