A letter from St Francis Xavier to St Ignatius

St Francis Xavier, Patron of all foreign missions

Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel
We have visited the villages of the new converts who accepted the Christian religion a few years ago. No Portuguese live here, the country is so utterly barren and poor. The native Christians have no priests. They know only that they are Christians. There is nobody to say Mass for them; nobody to teach them the Creed, the Our Father, the Hail Mary and the Commandments of God’s Law.
I have not stopped since the day I arrived. I conscientiously made the rounds of the villages. I bathed in the sacred waters all the children who had not yet been baptized. This means that I have purified a very large number of children so young that, as the saying goes, they could not tell their right hand from their left. The older children would not let me say my Office or eat or sleep until I taught them one prayer or another. Then I began to understand: “The kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
I could not refuse so devout a request without failing in devotion myself. I taught them, first the confession of faith in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, then the Apostles’ Creed, the Our Father and Hail Mary. I noticed among them persons of great intelligence. If only someone could educate them in the Christian way of life, I have no doubt that they would make excellent Christians.
Many, many people hereabouts are not becoming Christians for one reason only: there is nobody to make them Christians. Again and again I have thought of going round the universities of Europe, especially Paris, and everywhere crying out like a madman, riveting the attention of those with more learning than charity: “What a tragedy: how many souls are being shut out of heaven and falling into hell, thanks to you!”
I wish they would work as hard at this as they do at their books, and so settle their account with God for their learning and the talents entrusted to them.
This thought would certainly stir most of them to meditate on spiritual realities, to listen actively to what God is saying to them. They would forget their own desires, their human affairs, and give themselves over entirely to God’s will and his choice. They would cry out with all their heart: Lord, I am here! What do you want me to do? Send me anywhere you like – even to India.

Taken from today’s Office of Readings.


About Brother Burrito

A sinner who hopes in God's Mercy, and who cannot stop smiling since realizing that Christ IS the Way , the Truth and the Life. Alleluia!
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9 Responses to A letter from St Francis Xavier to St Ignatius

  1. GC says:

    Brother Burrito, perhaps our readers would like to see the place where the incorrupt body of our saint reposed for a few months after he was fetched from China before being shipped off to Goa in India to the Jesuit Church of Bom Jesus there, where he remains nearly incorrupt, if more than a tiny bit dried out.

    These are the ruins of the church in Malacca, Malaysia (spelt “Melaka” in the local language), and here is his temporary burial place
    within that ex-church, the Church of Our Lady of the Hill, .

    Our saint served in the church several years and lived meagrely within the church compound and, by all reports, astonishing the locals before scurrying off to Japan and southern China, somewhat to our north.

    There’s a newer church dedicated to the memory of St Xavier not far from his own church where he served in Melaka, that is right on the Melaka River and which was constructed by the French MEP priests during the British period. The fathers of this congregation suffered most terrifying martyrdoms in a mostly unsung way in Thailand, Vietnam, Korea and China, with seeking no earthly reward. But they are still here in Malaysia and Singapore, being sturdy young Frenchmen in their day, often originating from the more rural regions of France.


  2. GC says:

    Apologies to CP&S readers, got the codes wrong.

    Here is St Francis Xavier’s temporary grave in Melaka and here is the 19th century MEP church dedicated to St Xavier on the river there.


  3. toadspittle says:

    “Again and again I have thought of going round the universities of Europe, especially Paris, and everywhere crying out like a madman, riveting the attention of those with more learning than charity: “What a tragedy: how many souls are being shut out of heaven and falling into hell, thanks to you!””


  4. Tom Fisher says:

    Yes Toad, as the great Saint reminded us, the French University students are damnable and liable to cause scandal



  5. johnhenrycn says:

    Here’s a heart warming report about the reverence in which St Francis Xavier is held by Goans, Christians and non-Christians alike.


  6. GC says:

    Dear JH, yes it’s quite clear that in the eyes of the south, east and south-east Asian Christian folk St Francis Xavier is up there at the top.

    The biographers got cracking very soon on St Xavier and produced literature describing feats that were truly astonishing, some even involving crabs and fish, not to mention raising folk from the dead. Scepticism towards the stories naturally set in and I think a 19th century Anglican or two did their best to discredit these early accounts of the saint’s life. It does finally look plausible on the evidence that our Jesuit St Francis did indeed raise some recently deceased souls from the dead and was able to see events occurring from far off. Very, very peculiar, And that is even without mentioning his travelling and popping up just about everywhere in East Asia and south-western India. A Basque nobleman who really had missionary ants in his pants, to an extraordinary degree.


  7. kathleen says:

    GC, have you read Francis Thompson’s “Saint Ignatius of Loyola”? I read it as a youngster, but I remember it well. In this beautifully illustrated book (lent to me by a friend) of the famous founder of the Jesuit Order, there was a chapter dedicated to some of Ignatius’ first followers, with quite a bit about St. Francis Xavier.
    In the engaging style of this enigmatic author, Francis Xavier is described (quoting from memory) as the perfect example of kindness, warmth and sweetness, “unique to the Christian”, that gave him such a personal appeal, that when he preached the Gospel to the local people of these far-flung lands, their hearts became more ready to truly hear him.

    There’s quite a lesson in that, isn’t there? It is certainly something that stuck in my mind and made me fond of this missionary saint.
    We have a little Francis Xavier in our family…. although when his name-to-be was announced to everyone my mother laughingly said it sounded more like the name of a church than a boy! 🙂


  8. GC says:

    Well, Xavier is the 87th most popular boy’s name in the US this year, kathleen, right up there with “Jayden” and “Colton”. It was number 10 in Australia in 2012, just a bit below “Ethan” and “Cooper”!

    Here’s a read written by Father Hardon SJ on the historical scepticism towards the many wonders St Francis Xavier performed. It seems that evangelicals and “rationalists” in the 18th and 19th centuries put in a big effort to discredit the “wonder-worker” status of our saint. You’ll see mentioned a few other biographies of St Xavier written centuries ago and information about the investigations before his canonisation in 1623.


    In the light of all the evidence, therefore, scientific as seen in the canonical processes, and authoritative as shown in the statements of the Church, it is impossible to deny to Francis Xavier the title which posterity has given to him, of “the wonder-worker of modern Christianity.” The miracles which he worked . . . are disconcerting only to those who deny the supernatural. To anyone else, they are a fulfillment of Christ’s promise to His disciples: “In My name they shall cast out devils; they shall speak in new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands upon the sick and they shall get well.”

    Here’s an old video of a religious festival in Melaka (Malacca) in 1953. The relic, I would suggest, is probably one of St Francis Xavier. The Bishop of Malacca then was Bishop Michel Olcomendy, also a Basque like Father Xavier, but one of the MEP fathers (the Paris Foreign Missions Society). Later he became the first archbishop of Singapore.


  9. Brother Burrito says:

    Francis Thompson on St Ignatius, ebooks:



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