Francis Xavier

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Francis Xavier, born Francisco de Jasso y Azpilicueta (7 April 1506 – 3 December 1552) was a pioneering Roman Catholic missionary born in the Kingdom of Navarre (Spain) and co-founder of the Society of Jesus. He was a student of Saint Ignatius of Loyola and one of the first seven Jesuits who dedicated themselves to the service of God at Montmartre in 1534.[1] He led an extensive mission into Asia, mainly in the Portuguese Empire of the time. He was influential in the spreading and upkeep of Catholicism most notably in India, but also ventured into Japan, Borneo, the Moluccas, and other areas which had thus far not been visited by Christian missionaries. In these areas, being a pioneer and struggling to learn the local languages in the face of opposition, he had less success than he had enjoyed in India.


Early life

Francis Xavier was born in the family castle of Xavier, Spain (Xabier, in Basque) in the Kingdom of Navarre on 7 April 1506 according to a family register. He was born to an aristocratic family of Navarre, the youngest son of Juan de Jaso, privy counsellor to King John III of Navarre (Jean d'Albret), and Doña Maria de Azpilcueta y Xavier, sole heiress of two noble Navarrese families. He was thus related to the great theologian and philosopher Martín de Azpilcueta. Following the Basque surname custom of the time, he was named after his mother[citation needed]; his name is written Francisco de Xavier (Latin Xaverius) in the Spanish literary tradition. Notwithstanding different interpretations on his first language,[2] no evidence suggests that Xavier's mother tongue was other than Basque, as stated by himself and confirmed by the sociolinguistic environment of the time,[3] while he may have got in touch with Romance early due to the social status of his family, close to the royalty.[4]

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