ST. FRANCIS AND HIS MISSIONS
Impressed by the Jesuits, King John III of Portugal asked the order for missionaries to travel to Portuguese India, where the king believed that Christian values were eroding among the Portuguese. Though Loyola initially selected others for the task, Xavier stepped in when a fellow priest became ill. He left Rome on 15th March 1540 for Lisbon. The zealous Francis now appointed by Pope as His Nuncio, for the remote East, embarks for India on 7th April 1541 and arrived in Goa on 6th May 1542.
He visited the Bishop who was highly pleased with Francis’ humility in spite of his being the Pontifical Nuncio. Leaving aside special invitations Francis chose to reside in the Royal Hospital and spent his days nursing the sick and teaching Christian doctrine. In 1542 Francis was requested to hold the rectorship of the newly established institute named College of St. Paul, for the priestly formation of local candidates. However his heart was longing for the souls who had never a chance to listen to the message of Jesus.
Xavier soon learned that along the Pearl Fishery Coast on the southern tip of India, there were people called Paravas, many of whom had been baptized ten years before merely to please the Portuguese, who had helped them against the Moors, but remained uninstructed in the faith. Accompanied by several native clerics from the seminary at Goa, Francis went to Cochin, the most important Portuguese province next to Goa and preached the gospel to the Paravas. He organized missionary work in these regions with great zeal. During this time, he was able to visit the tomb of St. Thomas the Apostle in Mylapore, (Chennai) then in Portuguese India.
In the spring of 1545 Xavier started for Malacca. He translated the important articles of faith for the benefit of the local people. Here he met a Japanese called Angero, from whom he obtained much information about Japan. After many visits to the surrounding areas where he had preached Jesus Christ with great success, he returned to Malacca where more missionaries had come at his request.
In 1548 Francis returned to Goa and started planning his trip to Japan as well as was keenly interested in the formation of the students of College of St. Paul. On August 15th 1549, Xavier landed at Kagoshima, Japan. As he had at his other missions, Xavier adapted to local mores and arranged for the translation of religious texts. But these aroused the ill will of the bonzes, who created difficulties for him. Francis started planning a trip to China. At the same time he was looking after the needs of different missions, sending missionaries from Goa. He left Japan by leaving other priests in-charge of the mission and came back to Goa in 1552.
Xavier’s next focus for missionary work was China. In April 1552 traveled to Sancian (Shangchuan) Island, near Canton, but was not able to access the mainland because borders had been closed to foreigners. Before he could find a way inside the country, illness incapacitated Xavier. He died on the island on December 3rd 1552, at the age of 46 where he was alone with two companions.