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Pope Francis Hails St. Francis Xavier as 'The Greatest Missionary of Modern Times.'

During his general audience on May 17, Pope Francis emphasized the significance of St. Francis Xavier as a role model for sharing the Gospel with zeal in a world filled with people in need of Jesus. The pope dedicated the entire audience to recounting the inspiring story of this audacious 16th-century saint, who risked his life to venture into the then-unknown territories.

St. Francis Xavier

St. Francis Xavier


By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
5/17/2023 (1 year ago)

Published in Christian Saints & Heroes

Keywords: Pope Francis, St. Francis Xavier, missionary

Pope Francis hailed St. Francis Xavier as "the greatest missionary of modern times," highlighting his role as one of the first Jesuit priests who carried the message of Christ to India, the distant islands of the Indonesian archipelago, and Japan.

The pope acknowledged that St. Francis Xavier's love for Christ propelled him to the farthest corners of the world, enduring toil, danger, setbacks, disappointments, and discouragement. Despite these challenges, his faith in Christ provided him consolation and joy throughout his dedicated service. Pope Francis called upon the faithful to embrace St. Francis Xavier's fervor for living and proclaiming the Gospel.

He especially urged young people experiencing restlessness to find inspiration in St. Francis Xavier's example. The pope encouraged them to gaze at the world's horizons and witness the countless individuals in need, those who are suffering and seeking Jesus.

While St. Francis Xavier dreamed of evangelizing China, he passed away on his journey to fulfill this aspiration. Pope Francis highlighted China's historical and cultural significance as a dominant force in Asia. Even today, China remains a cultural hub with a rich history. The pope remarked that St. Francis Xavier died in obscurity on the small island of Shangchuan near Macao, with only a Chinese man by his side as his solitary caretaker.

Pope Francis emphasized St. Francis Xavier's intense devotion to prayer, stating that it was inseparable from his tireless missionary work. The saint recognized the strength derived from prayer and maintained a steadfast union with God, embracing both the mystical and contemplative aspects of faith.

The pope's reflections on the exemplary life of St. Francis Xavier were part of a series of teachings on the passion for evangelization, which commenced in January.

During the audience, Pope Francis momentarily interrupted the proceedings to answer a phone call. While this act is uncommon, it is not the first time the pope has done so during a general audience. In August 2021, he also answered a call amidst the weekly Wednesday audience.

Concluding the audience, Pope Francis reminded the crowd of the upcoming Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord, which the Church would celebrate on May 18. He emphasized that this event prompts believers to reflect on the moment when Jesus entrusted His apostles with the mandate to spread His message of salvation to the ends of the earth.

In his closing remarks, Pope Francis called upon young people to embrace Christ's missionary mandate and channel their enthusiasm in service of the Gospel. He encouraged the sick and elderly to find solace in their unity with the Lord, recognizing their valuable contribution to the growth of God's Kingdom. Lastly, the pope urged newlyweds to foster families where love for God flourishes, becoming joyful witnesses of their faith.

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