The Feast of St. Francis Xavier on December 3, commemorates and honors the commitment and service that St. Francis Xavier showed through his Christian missionary activity in Europe and Asia. The body of St. Francis Xavier is presently preserved at the UNESCO World Heritage Site Basilica of Bom Jesus in Goa. It is an integral feature of the festival and a famous pilgrimage site for Goans and Christians worldwide. If you want to experience the essence of the feast, go to the Basilica of Bom Jesus in Goa to witness it in all its splendor.
History of Feast of St. Francis Xavier
St. Francis was born in Xavier, Kingdom of Navarre, on April 7, 1506. He was born into a prosperous farming family whose finances suffered significantly during the war with Aragon. Francis traveled to Paris to study, where he met Ignatius of Loyola, who persuaded Francis to pursue a holy life and become a priest. Francis was hesitant at first, prompting Ignatius to raise the now-famous question, “What will it profit a man to win the whole world and forfeit his soul?”
Francis and Ignatius were co-founders of the Society of Jesus, often known as the Jesuits. They took vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience to the Pope. They also promised to visit the Holy Land to convert “infidels.” In March 1540, Francis departed from Rome for the Indies. His rise to become possibly the most significant Christian missionary after St. Paul happened practically by chance. He wasn’t picked initially to be a missionary, but when one of the two Ignatius had been chosen and became ill, he urged Francis to go in his place.
Over the following 12 years, Francis commanded several abroad missions, primarily in the Portuguese Empire of Mozambique, Malacca, and, most significantly, Goa. He was the first Christian missionary to visit Japan, then Borneo and the Moluccan Islands. He was renowned as the Apostle of the Indies for his evangelistic activity. Francis died of fever on Shangchuan Island on December 3, 1552, while preparing to sail to mainland China to continue his missionary work.
Gregory XV canonized Francis on March 12, 1622. The remains of Saint Francis Xavier are housed in a silver casket within Goa’s Bom Jesus Basilica.
Feast of St. Francis Xavier timeline
He is born into a prosperous farming family whose finances suffered significantly during the war with Aragon.
Francis departs from Rome to the Indies and rises to become possibly the most significant Christian missionary after St. Paul.
Francis dies of fever on Shangchuan Island while preparing to sail to mainland China to continue his missionary work.
Gregory XV canonizes St. Francis Xavier.
Feast of St. Francis Xavier FAQs
What is St. Xavier the patron saint of?
Saint Francis Xavier is the patron saint of missionaries and one of the founders of the Jesuit order, who sought religious converts across Asia.
What is St. Francis Xavier's symbol?
The cross and fleur-de-lis are religious symbols with a long history, representing St. Francis Xavier’s spiritual background and purpose.
What miracles did St. Francis Xavier do?
He prayed to God and dipped his crucifix into the roiling seas to quiet them, but the crucifix slipped out of his grasp and plunged into the sea. When he arrived in Malacca, he was wandering along the shoreline when he noticed that a crab emerged out of the ocean towards him. The crab held the cross in its claws.
How to Observe Feast of St. Francis Xavier
Read about his life
You can increase your knowledge by reading the biography of St. Francis Xavier. That way, you will know how he struggled as a missionary.
Visit a church or shrine dedicated to him
Visit a church or shrine dedicated to his name as there is a significant history behind it. On this day, activities are carried out in those places to commemorate him.
Pray together as a family
Say prayers for St. Francis Xavier with your family. You can even have a small banquet attended by relatives or closest friends.
5 Facts About St. Francis Xavier You Should Know
13 months before he finally reached Goa
Before arriving in Goa, he soon left Rome and went via Lisbon and numerous Asian countries.
He died in China
He died while waiting for a boat to transport him to China after succumbing to a severe illness.
The body is kept in a silver casket
Episodes from the saint's life of curing the sick and afflicted are marked on the casket.
Once every ten years
Since 1994, the body has been taken down just once every 10 years to display to the public.
The right forearm of the saint
The saint blessed and baptized individuals with his right arm and so, it is presently housed in a silver cabinet at Il Gesù in Rome.
Why Feast of St. Francis Xavier is Important
Remember his missionary work
This is the day when we commemorate his missionary efforts. Francis Xavier was a prominent missionary in Roman Catholic history. He was a crucial figure in the spread of Christianity in India, the Malay Archipelago, and Japan.
A reason to gather
The Feast of St. Francis Xavier is widely observed in the coastal state of Goa. People will gather at the Basilica of Bom Jesus in Goa to see the relics of St. Francis Xavier.
It’s a chance to recognize other saints
Commemorating the day also allows us to recognize all the other saints who are the backbone of Christianity. It's also a chance to send prayers for our relatives and friends who have faithfully departed.
Feast of St. Francis Xavier dates