Francis Xavier



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Francis Xavier, Missionary

Picture courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Francis Xavier was one of the original seven who formed the Society of Jesus with Ignatius Loyola in 1534. Francis became one of the great missionaries to the east, especially Japan. He was born into an aristocratic Spanish family, and was educated in Paris. There he met Ignatius Loyola and became one of the original Jesuits. They took vows to follow Christ in poverty and chastity and to evangelise the heathen. It is as an evangelist that Francis is remembered. He was a brave, passionate and completely single-minded man, whose duty and delight it was to preach the gospel in season and out of season.

Francis went to Lisbon, and then, at the invitation of King John III of Portugal, he and two companions went to Goa on the west coast of India and landed there in May 1542. Francis Xavier travelled light, eating as the poorest of the people did and sleeping on the ground in a hut. He regarded the cruel way in which Europeans treated the Indians as “a permanent bruise on my soul”. He was continually calling Europeans to the love of Christ, as well as preaching Christ to the Indians, who had not heard the gospel before. He reformed the somewhat lax church in Goa, but spent much of his time in missionary travels despite suffering from chronic seasickness. Low caste Indians heard him gladly, but he had less success among the higher castes. Wherever he went, he organised Christian communities to carry on the work. His jour-neys took him from Goa to Travancore, Malacca, Ceylon and in 1549 to Japan.

Francis thought that his mission to Japan had not been successful, but in fact it laid great foundations, which bore fruit in the next generation. He carried out his mission successively in Kagoshima, Hirado and Yamaguchi. He learned Japanese and translated a brief statement of Christian beliefs into Japanese. Eventually he went to the capital, Miyako, and attempted to see the mikado. When not at first admitted to the presence of the mikado because of his un-prepossessing poverty, he dressed in finery as a representative of the king of Portugal, and was admitted. He was granted a disused Buddhist monastery for his work. Half a century lat-er, the church in Japan came under severe persecution. After establishing the church in Japan and leaving about 2,000 converts, Francis returned to Goa. He then set out for China, but died on the way there.

BORN: 7 April 1506, Javier, Spain

DIED:3 December 1552, Shangchuan Island, Jiangmen, China

Hanukkah – The Jewish Festival of Lights.

Girl lighting the candles

Picture courtesy of Phillip Martin Clipart

This is the 2nd Night of Hanukkah the Jewish Festival of Lights and it remembers the rededication of the second Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, in Israel. This happened in the 160s BCE/BC (before Jesus was born). (Hanukkah is the Hebrew and Aramaic word for 'dedication'.) Hanukkah lasts for eight days tonight is the 2nd night. The menorah is put in the front window of houses so people passing can see the lights and remember the story of Hanukkah. We will look more fully at the story of Hanukkah tomorrow.

Hanukkah is for Christians also as Jesus attended the "dedication festival" (Hanukkah) in the temple at Jerusalem so since the true 'Light of the World', celebrated Hanukkah and we are supposed to follow in his footsteps shouldn't we?