December 3 is the feast day of St. Francis Xavier.
Born on April 7, 1506, Francis grew up in war-torn Navarre, Spain. When he was old enough, he left to study at the University of Paris. There, he met Ignatius of Loyola and joined his gathering of men who became the first Jesuits.
On June 24, 1537, Francis was ordained a priest in the new religious community and soon left for a missionary trip to India. There, he tended to the sick and poor. Then, he began helping people who were baptized but knew little about their faith. In just three years, Francis built some 40 churches in this region.
Following India, Francis traveled to Malaysia, Indonesia, and Japan, evangelizing people and caring for them. He made secret plans to travel to China, which was closed to foreigners, but fell ill before making the journey. He died on this date in 1552, after 11 years of missionary activity.
Francis was canonized in 1622 at the same ceremony as Ignatius of Loyola. St. Francis is the patron saint of those who spread the faith, missions, navigation, and many countries around the world.
Get to know this great saint through our Spotify playlist inspired by his life and legacy — featuring artists Strahan and Ike Ndolo and themes of mission and changing the world.