St. Francis Xavier was born near Pamplona, on April 7, 1506.

Xavier was educated at the University of Paris. In 1529, while in Paris, he met the Spanish ascetic Ignatius of Loyola. Xavier was one of the groups that joined Ignatius to found the Order of Jesus. In 1537 Xavier became the first secretary of the Order.

In 1542, Xavier began his work in Portuguese India. After preaching with great success in Goa for five months, he extended his labors to southern India and Ceylon (Sri Lanka), where he converted tens of thousands of locals. He then led missionary work in Malacca, where he founded many Christian communities, in Japan, where he also succeeded and left behind a vigorous Christian community. In 1552 he returned to Goa with a plan to introduce Christianity into China.

To gain entrance to that country, which was then closed to foreigners, he persuaded the Portuguese authorities to send an embassy, of which he would be a member, to the Chinese emperor. The embassy departed from Goa in the spring of 1552; it went no farther than Malacca, but Xavier continued the journey alone, arriving at a small island near Macau in August 1552. He died there Dec. 3, 1522, after repeated vain attempts to reach the mainland. He was buried on a beach of Shangchuan Island.

In February 1553, his incorrupt body was taken from the island, and on March 22, 1553 he was temporarily buried in St. Paul’s church in Malacca. His body was shipped to Goa on Dec. 11, 1553, and is more than 400 years old now and still in non-decomposing state. His body is enshrined in a glass container encased in a silver casket at the Basilica of Bom Jesus or the Church of the Good Jesus at Old Goa.

A man of remarkable energy and organizational ability, Xavier ranks among the greatest missionaries of all time. Canonized in 1622, the list of his principal miracles may be found in the Bill of Canonization. He was declared Patron of the Orient in 1748, Patron of the Faith in 1904, and with the French nun St. Teresa of Lisieux, Patron of all missions in 1927. He is also the patron saint of sailors.

Adapted by A.J. Valentini from (n.d.). St Francis Xavier in Goa, About St Francis Xavier, the patron saint of Goa, St. Francis Xavier relics at Old Goa. Retrieved Nov. 24, 2020, from