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Born to nobility in the Basque region of Spain in 1506, St. Francis Xavier began his renowned career by teaching philosophy at the University of Paris. An adventurous life found him performing sterling missionary work in India, Japan, and the East Indies for a decade along with helping found the Jesuit Order.

Francis Xavier was the first Jesuit missionary. He opposed slavery and spread the Gospel at the urging of his friend, St. Ignatius of Loyola. it was said he baptized as many as 10,000 Indians in a month and more than 40,000 in all. He helped lepers and taught catechism to Indian kids.

Prophet and healer, noted for missionary fervor, Francis Xavier died from a fever while performing missionary work in China in 1552. Pope Gregory V canonized him in 1622. Pope Pius X declared him patron of all foreign missions. His feast day is Dec. 3.

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