St Francis Xavier, The Saint.
St Francis Xavier, the Patron Saint of Frankston Catholic Parish, was born in Basque speaking Spain on the 7thApril 1506.
In his early years he was headed for an academic career, but fell under the gently powerful influence of Saint Ignatius Loyola while he was studying at the University of Paris. He became a member of the founding group of the Society of Jesus – the Jesuits – in 1534. During this time he poured his life out in preaching and teaching the Gospel, and had an extraordinary devotion to caring for the sick.
In 1541 he was chosen to undertake his life’s work – to preach the Gospel in Asia. He sailed from Portugal, and after a long and harrowing journey he arrived in Goa on the southern coast of India on the 6th May 1542.
In a brief ten years, he baptized thousands establishing communities of faith. He visited India, Sri Lanka, Malacca (Malaysia), and many of the islands of Indonesia. He also made a small but very profound impression on Japan – planting a Christian community there that was later to undergo a fierce persecution. He was heading for China when he was taken ill, and died on a desolate island off the Chinese coast on the 3rd December 1552. His body was taken back to India, where he is buried in the Basilica of the Good Jesus, Goa. He was declared a saint in 1622.
One of the legends of St. Francis Xavier is recalled in the large stained glass window by the artist Alan Sumner on the side wall of the Frankston Church. It shows Francis disembarking from the ship on one of his many journeys in South-East Asia. As he steps into the little boat which is to take him ashore, his mission cross falls into the water. This was a precious possession of Francis, since it had been given to him by St. Ignatius Loyola, who sent Francis to Asia. Francis thought he had lost the cross in the deep water, but to his amazement when he stepped ashore a large crab was holding it between its claws.
In the window are also the words, “Da mihi animas”, which means, “Give me souls”’ It expresses Francis deep desire to share the life giving story of Jesus to all.
In 1927 St. Francis Xavier was declared, with Therese of Lisieux, the Patron Saint of Missions. They are also the patron saints of Australia.