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|Digitized by J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah
|Story of St. Francis Xavier
, Written for The Intermountain Catholic. Sunday, Dec. Z, is the feast of St. Francis Xavier, the apostle of the Indies. In-dies. St. Francis Xavier was born on the 6th of April, in the year 1506. His father was chief councillor of state under un-der John III. King of Navarre, and his mother, belonged to one of the most ancient an-cient and honorable families of that kingdom. ; Xavier. it should be remarked, was not his'. family.;: name. It was rather the name of a -castle, a- celebrated old feudal castle, that had been granted to a distinguished ... member of his mother's family 300 years at least before our saint was born. To perpetuate the memory of this royal gift it seems' to have been determined on among his maternal relatives that some one of their descendants' should always bear the name of Xavier. Francis was the youngest child of a very numerous family, and hence, while the seniors in due course took the surname sur-name of the mother, he got the title I of Xavier from, the good old castle of an ancestor. His brothers all folio-wed the profession of arms, but he devoted himself, even from an early age, to the gentler pursuits of literature and was designed, no doubt, by h's parents for mma rt t thn 1 1 While at home under private tutors be mastered the ordinary elements of the Greek and Latin languages, and in his eighteenth year was sent to the University Uni-versity of Paris, then in its. greatest glory, to acquire what Is called a knowledge of the;world and to explore the intricacies of scholastic philosophy. Gifted with uncommon parts and great assiduity, he' quickly distinguished distin-guished himself among his companions, attained some of the highest honors which the university couid bestow, and was raised in rapid succession through many minor offices to the important chair of logic, or dialectics, a class which he conducted with considerable credit and effect. His address was good, his mind cultivated, his youth attractive, and so his lectures were popular and his success seemed certain. cer-tain. FRANCIS XAVIER AND IGNATIUS LOYOLA. What wonder, then, that his vanity should have been somewhat inflamed, and that ambition bid him hope for a distinguished careerjn the world? Of noble birth, of ample fortune, and of great intellectual promise, there were few things, in point of fact, to which he might not. have legitimately aspired. Somewhat above the middle size, his forehead, we ar told, was ample and elevated, his color fresh and healthful, his eyes were blue and ex-I ex-I Dressive. his features regular, and his I manner such as became the lordly j houses from which he was descended. Such was Xavier's personal appear-i appear-i ance. Ignatius of Loyola and he resided together to-gether in the College of St. Barbara. I Like Xavier, Ignatius was' of gentle I blood; like him, too. he was born at the Spanish side of the Pyrenees, and j the castle of Pampeluna. in which he received the salutary wound that led to his conversion, was situated not more than a few leagues from the town j of Navarre. I Ignatius went to Paris in 1528: Xav-! Xav-! ier in 1524. Xavier had thus the start i of him in the technicalities of univer-! univer-! sity training. But Ignatius, on the j other hand, was his senior by more than a dozen years, and was vastly beyond be-yond him as regards natural intellect, worldly experience, true wisdom and knowledge. Ignatius had been to Rome and Venice Ven-ice and had performed a pilgrimage, to the Holy Land. He had already, in fact, sketched out in his master mind the leading outlines of that illustrious order with which he was destined ere long to enrich the Church, and his only earthly anxiety appears to have been to fit himself for the high mission mis-sion to which he felt he had been called and to secure a few worthy co-operators co-operators in his noble undertaking. He saw in the youthful Xavier one admirably ad-mirably suited for his purpose. But. then, how could he wean him from the world, or dissipate the illusions which it inspired? , VANITY OF WORLDLY GREATNESS The humility of Ignatius found but little favor iri his sight. He was ambitious ambi-tious of t-r.e thing only, and that one thing was worldly fame. To answer the ends of Ignatius, on the other hand, he should renounce the world, and devote .himself to a life of labor and self-sacrifice for the sake of God and cf his church. How was this difficulty to be overcome? It was a grave one, but the future founder of the Jesuits was not slow in swlvlng it. He attended the lectures lec-tures of the young professor, appeared gratified at his success, procured him scholars, interested himself in everything every-thing that concerned him, and thus, by-degrees, by-degrees, he won his way first to his confidence and finally to his heart. They gradually grew more and more intimate. Theii- intimacy, founded on mutual respect, quickly ripened into enthusiastic en-thusiastic friendship. They met often, conversed freely, sometimes on serious topics pertaining to the things of God; and as they were one day engaged in this manner, Ignatius, not of course, without an impuise from above, approached ap-proached his companion and, laying Ms hand gently on his shoulder, said: "Francis, have you ever thought weil on the words of the .Scripture. 'What doe-s it avail a man to gain the whole world if he lose his own soul?' " Francis was silent and thereupon Ignatius Ig-natius continued, full of Uoquent emotion, emo-tion, saying: "Francis, if there be no life but this, if we live only to die after a few years, then you are wise and I am foolish you are wis? in enjoying the world, and I am foolish in renouncing It. But if there be another life, and if the few days we spend here are but a passage to it, why are you so solicitous about the present, and so careless about the future? So anxious about what lasts only for a time, and so heedless about what endures for eterpity? "Suppose your utmcst ambition satis-fled; satis-fled; suppose the world to give you all that it can. give, ten thousand years to live in health, and comfort, and prosperitywhat pros-peritywhat then? "- . m. -"The last day' of the ten thousand years must come, when it must find ' you as .destitute as the meanest cf r.ior--tals, -The mightiest of r-v-narens s;;-vcr ". - j carried out of the world so much n. i thread of his purple robes to pr .w ;., i others that he had reigned when h--, i "At the same time. Francis," h. ,,,., ' "I do not mean to extinguish your a: .;. bition, but only to direct it. Aniha;,.,l is the soul of enterprise. But b . k. ' at the heavens, contemplate thepi thought, even, for a moment, and it:-!; tell me how can you. in compar relish the earth? All that you call - ,.) I compared with infinite goodness is ,, 'drop of water compared with the .-, ,a and all that you call beautiful i.:-;-... . ( cd with infinite beauty is as a si..c-: ; from a fiery furnace compared "a it h th- : inexhaustible light of the sun." "Francis," he continued, "once f..t- a,', I refer you to yourself to decide v.h--:i-er it is not better for you to say lin-.v, 'What avails it to gain the whole v .! i and to lose my own soul.' than t- i - obliged to say by and by. wh'n are dying, 'What availed it t !.n-.- gained the praises of the. world and ; . have lost my soul?' " "Brethern. need I tell you th t'. ; of this interview? The spirit thi-touched thi-touched the tongue of Ignatius op.-n.-i also the heart of Xavier. and from tl: ir day forward he was the 'Apostk i-f t'i.-Indies.' t'i.-Indies.' " THE SAINTS SISTER. Meanwhile his father had detenu: on withdrawing him from Paris. had been there long enough, he thoiiuh. and some friends of the family v charitable enough to insinuate that h-was h-was not spending his time there en! r profitably or well. Xavier had an only sister, at one time lady of honor t' th.-queen. th.-queen. She exchanged the court for the cloister, and was mother abb?? of a celebrated religious community at the period to which I now refer. The spirit of God had revealed to her the future glories of her brother, and she wro; to the father accordingly, beseeching him by the love he bore her, as by th respect which he entertained for religion, reli-gion, not to interfere wfh Xavier. but to allow hiin to continue his studies in Paris until he should have completed his theological course for, said she. and the letter was produced at the Saints' canonization. "God has chosen him to be the Apostle of the Indies and one of the foremost pi'lars of the Chi i-tian i-tian Church." Thenceforth Xavier was free. THE SOCIETY OF JESUS FOUNDED. It forms no part of my present bus. I mess to trace ror you tne ainertni steps which the great St. Ignatius deemed it advisable to take in the early organization of the noble Order of th Jesuits. I may remark, however, thac St. Francis Xavier was only his second disciple. Father Faber. a native of Savoy, was the first. Four other, three of whom were Spaniards and one a Portuguese, followed his standard soon after. They knew nothing whatever cf each other's designs or vocations uratil they nif-t one day by appointment in the rooms of St. Ignatius, who then and there disclosed to them collectively his vie9 as to the formation of a religiou? society, so-ciety, and fixed on the 15th of Augu.-'t, then close at hand, as a suitable occasion occa-sion for making their vows. At clay dawn accordingly, on the Feast of th:-Assumption, th:-Assumption, 1534. Ignatius and his six companions assembled in the little subterranean sub-terranean chapel of the Chapel cf Our Blessed Lady of Montmartre, near Paris. Father Faber, the only priest of the ! party, celebrated the Holy Sacrifice of the Macs, and at the usual time turned round with the Sacred Host in his hand, heard each one in succession I pledge himself irrevocably in religion, and then gave him Holy Communion. Such was the humble but edifying or.- gin of the celebrated Scrc-iety of Jesus. Xavier had not yet completed his theological theo-logical course. He continued, therefore, to frequent the divinity class at the University of Paris until the loth of November, 1-V!. having twice in the meantime renewed his vcvvs with his companions in th Chapel of Mount Martyr. He then left for Venice, traveled 'through Germany on- foot, suffered incredible pain on the road in consequence of certain fearful austerities to which he thought tit to subject himself, and at length arrived in Venice en the 7th of January. From Venice he desired to pass over to Pales- i tine. but that warlike republic was still embroiled with Turkej-, and the long-cherished long-cherished idea of a pilgrimage to the Holy Land had in consequence to be ; ' at-indoned. You have heard, doubt, V of his doings in the hospitals of Venice, and of his subsequent labors in the Eternal City itself, where he resided j frc-m, the Lent cf U.3 until the 15th of March, 1540, the period at which, in ' company with th-s Portuguese Ambassador, Ambas-sador, he set cut for Lisbon, thence to sail for India, the future field of his aposto!:c zeal. THE INDIAN MISSION. His appointment to the Indian mission mis-sion was in every sense providential. John III, King of Portugal, having heard from many sources, but especial ly from a Portuguese priest in Rome, I . who had been rector of the College of St. Barbara, in Paris, when Xavter resided re-sided there, of the extraordinary zeal, virtue and acquirements of Ignatius and his companions, applied to Pope Paul III for six missionaries whom he' might send to propagate the faith in India. The Pope referred to St. Ignatius. ! who wai then in Rome. "What," said the Saint, "you want six missionaries for India, and we are only ten for tha whole world!" .. He could dispose of only two. These j were Father Rodriguez, the celebrated ascetic writer, and Nicholas, surnamed I Bobadllla, from the place of his birth. I Rodriguez was a Portuguese, and he set ou'. for Lisbon at once. His com- , panion. however, falling sick of fever, wa-s obliged in consequence to remain ! in Rome, and Xavier was appointed in j his stead. This happened on the lt'th-j lt'th-j cf March. 1540. and Xavier left Rome ! next morning. He traveled night and. : day. He crossed the Alps, the Pyrenees, passed by the scenes of his early child- ( hood, and entered Lisbon about the end of June. He remained there until the 7th cf April following, when he sailed i out cf the Tagus for the distant chores ,-cf India: " j A voyage to India in those" days waa ;a fearful, undertaking. It was little I - mere than- forty yor. sirs-re the great I Portuguese navisator had doubled th j ! f. t " j Cape of Good IIopo and discovered a I passage by sea to the .Eastern -world. I The are of navigation was still oom- paiativeiy in it? infancy, and the peeu- j liaritics of the Southern Seas were to a j great extent unknown. Add to this the I inexperience of tailors and the clumpy character of the mercantile marine of Portugal, and you will not find it difficult diffi-cult to understand that our , Saint's voyage to India must -have been both (langt-Tous and disagreeable. He took no servart with him. He refused to enter the state .L-abiii that had been i prepared for his use. j ; - He slept "but three hours of the night, ! generally on deck, often on the ropes, with the author for his pillow, and his constant employment while on board was praying or preaching or attending the eick. It was during this voyage i that he received the title of father, a title since then pretty generally applied to priests, and always to the professed mem'bers of the Society of Jesus. He reached Mozambique, on the eat-t coast of Africa, some time in 'the month of August, and having wintered there and labored at the hospitals and elsewhere, else-where, as was his custom, with incredible incred-ible success, he sailed thence, in the spring of 1342, across the Arabian Sea, and having touched on Socotra. the island home of the ancient Amazons, he arrived safely in Goa on the 6th of Ma j. , G a wrs the l'ortuguese capital of India, and St. Francis may be said to have commenced his mission there. He ringing a little bell and affectionately t ailing on all, especially the children, to come and hear him. Thev came. The church was constantly crowded, and within the space of six weeks ho had sanctified that place. I shall not attempt to follow the great Apostle of the Indies through the different consecutive con-secutive stages of hi. missionary career. Suffice it to say that from Gca he steered six hundred miles and more to the south, penetrated somewhat into Central India, and evangelized during two successive years the entire maritime mari-time population that dwelt between ape Comoria and the present city of Madras. Thence he returned to Ceylon, crossed the Hay of Bengal to Malacca and the Spice Islands, and then, turn- ii.g to the north, traversed a great part of the Pacific Ocean and entered the hitherto unexplored regions that form J rhe Empire of,Japan. He preached, and j prayed, and baptized, and wrought j . miracles everywhere as he went along. Heaven favored him with the gift of tongues. He raised the deal to life, and planted the cross of Christ in fifty-two fifty-two different kingdoms; baptized with his own hand one million of human foe- i ings; traveled over eighty thousand miles during the ten years of his mis- eor,ary life; and revived in an age of indifference and incredulity, the zeal and .marvels of the first ages of the faith. And yet he died young, at the age of fortv-six. SCENE OF THE SAINT'S DEATH. Away out in the Chinese Pea there is a small island tailed Sancian, one of a group of three, and right opposite the present port of Canton. Pleak, and bare, and desolate, it served in those, days as a suit f commercial resting place r neutral ground, on which European Eu-ropean merchants might met-t and trade with the inhabitants of the Celestial Celes-tial Empire. Navicr landed there from Goa towards the middle of November. 1r.2. knd Imped ere long to preach the Gospel and thus realize the chief ambi- ; tinn of his later years. The sh!o on , which he had traveled had already dc- , parted on its return voyage to India. He was thus left alone. His active mind was agitated, no doubt, with a ihousand exciting projects. Long travel and fatigue had done their work on his cnfeeMed frame. A poor Portuguese peasant took compassion on his loneli-u loneli-u ss, and gave him all the shelter his cabin could afford. But iis malady increased. Remedies were found unavailing, un-availing, or unskillfully applied. His last hour had evidently come. That teeming and anxious head would soon cease to think, that fervent heart to throb. No companion of his early days, member of the society was near to whom he could confide his dying thoughts. There was no priest to give him the last rites of the Church, of to commit his body to a Christian grave. His mind was wandering rapturously vi-r the many missions he had founded, found-ed, lie addressed imaginary congregation,' congrega-tion,' sang hymns to the Great Spirit whose kingdom he was about ta enter forever; paused, and. prayed, and wept by turns; and so, his holv habit wrapped around his, his beads about his neck, his eyes fixed in lustrous beauty on the crucifix which -he loving- J ly held in his hands, the eainted Francis Fran-cis died on Fridas. December 2, 1552. repeating the words of the Psalmist, "In thee, O Bord. I have hojed; I shall not be confounded for1 ever."