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St. Francis Xavier, the saint in whose honor the Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Bahamas is named, and the co-patron saint of the Archdiocese of Nassau, is considered amongst the greatest missionaries since the apostles.
Known as the Apostle to the Far East, Xavier was born to an aristocratic family in the Basque region of Spain in April 1506. He died on the Island of Sancian near the coast of China in December 1552, before having reached the age of 47.
After completing studies in Spain at age 19, Xavier was sent to study at the University of Paris. He read philosophy and theology for a career as a professor. He met Ignatius Loyola in Paris and they developed a warm friendship. In 1534 he joined Layola and five of others in the formation of the Society of Jesus.
Xavier left Paris in 1536 to join Layola in Venice, Italy, from where it was intended that they would go to Palestine as missionaries. That trip never materialized . In Venice, Xavier engaged in charitable work among the sick. He was ordained in 1537 and in the next year went to Rome where he participated in the conference which led to the formal recognition of the Society of Jesus by the Pope.
In 1542 he was sent to the Far East becoming the first Jesuit missionary. His mission was to strengthen and deepen Christian faith among nascent Christian communities in the Portuguese colonies. He began his ministry in Goa, India where he also established new Christian missions.
Leaving the subcontinent, Xavier traveled extensively in the Far East often under the most deplorable conditions, including extremes of heat and cold, and frequently on his bare feet. His ministry extended to the Island of Ceylon and to other Portuguese colonies in the East indies.
His work, proselytizing native populations opened his ayes to colonial abuses. In letters to his financial patron, King John of Portugal, he protested against the mistreatment of the natives by Portuguese settlers, and admonished against Portugal's part in the slave trade and in the plunder of colonies for their riches.
Conquering the Japanese language, he introduced Christianity to Japan, and not withstanding considerable opposition to his preaching by some of the Japanese leadership, he established a number of Christian communities which grew and survive to this day. His plan to extend his missionary work to mainland China was stopped by his illness and subsequent death on the Island of Sancian, near the coast of China.
Called healer, prophet and miracle worker, Francis Xavier is credited with teaching Catholic catechism to tens of thousands of people, particularly to the young; with deepening and strengthening the understanding of the faith among Christian communities throughout the Far East; and with bringing thousands of people to Christianity in India, Ceylen, the East Indies and Japan, Francis Xavier was beatified in October 1619, canonized in March 1622 and proclaimed patron of all foreign missions on December 3rd of the same year. He his interred in the Basilica Bom Jesus in Goa, India.