Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Dec 3, 2023 / 04:00 am
How far would you go to serve God? Would you be willing to travel to the ends of the earth, with nothing but the guarantee of hardship, deprivation, and persecution?
While today, Dec. 3, is the first Sunday of Advent, it is also the feast of St. Francis Xavier, the patron saint of missionaries and missions who led an unlikely life of adventure and heroism, full of unexpected twists and turns, taking the faith to the ends of the earth.
Born in 1506 to a noble Navarrese-Basque family, Francis grew up in a land wracked with war. Wedged between the growing imperial powers of Castile-Aragon (Spain) and France, Navarre seldom knew peace during Francis’ childhood.
As a member of the nobility, Francis was expected to lead a warrior’s life along with his father and brothers. But at the age of 10, his life took its first dramatic and tragic turn. His father died, his homeland kingdom of Navarre was defeated by Spain, his brothers were imprisoned, and his childhood home, the Castle of the House of Javier (Xavier), was almost entirely destroyed.