St Francis Xavier, Legend

Today is the Feast of St Francis Xavier, who is one of my favourite saints. My primary school was St Francis Xavier College, so I was acquainted with him from a very young age. He’s probably the first saint I was aware of, after Our Lady and St Joseph. My confirmation name is Francis — after both Francis of Assisi and Francis Xavier. I’ve read several of his biographies over the years. I discovered one at the Kanabea Catholic Mission in Papua New Guinea, where I worked for five weeks in 2006. I grew a “missionary beard” during that trip, after the fashion of the great Jesuit missionary. Or at least, I tried to. I didn’t pull it off, really. I also kept a diary on that trip. Here is the entry on 3 December 2006 — the feast of St Francis Xavier. I’ve mucked up the novena. I started a day too late, which means that it won’t finish until tomorrow. I guess it will still be St Francis Xavier’s feast day in America . . . At least I’ve finished reading the book about him. It seems to me that he won over the people he evangelised by his attractive fusion of the local way of life, and the Christian faith he sought to introduce. Xavier’s radical simplicity and poverty permitted him to totally embrace the locals’...

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