The maverick missionary

February 16, 2024 in Featured News, News

The Great Dreamer: The Life and Mission of St Francis Xavier is the title of a new biography of the Jesuit saint, by Brendan Comerford SJ, published by Messenger Publications »

Francis Xavier, a Spanish Basque, was born on 7 April 1506, in the Kingdom of Navarre. He is one of the most well-known Jesuit saints, co-founding the Jesuit Order with St Ignatius of Loyola in 1534. His life was marked by an extraordinay zeal for spreading the Gospel and his tireless efforts to evangelize Asia. It has been said that no one converted more people to Christianity since St Paul.

In his biography Brendan Comerford introduces us to a restless, intense and persuasive Jesuit ‘constantly moving from village to village’ in his missionary work. The author describes him as a man of great courage, whose ceaseless apostolic journeying and evangelising, combined with his abstemious lifestyle and regular self-sacrificing eventually exhausted his strength. His missionary goal was to evangelize China, but his life was cut short, and on 3 December 1552, aged only 46 years, he died on the island of Shangchuan, just off the coast of mainland China.

The posthumous nickname given to St Francis Xavier was ‘the inspired hustler’ (‘el divino impaciente’). Whilst the exact origins of this moniker are not definitively known, it does highlight the saint’s remarkable dedication and passion in carrying the core messages of the gospel of Christ to others. Brendan Comerford tells of Xavier’s deep compassion for the poor and the outcast and, at great personal cost, his tireless work trying to alleviate the suffering of those he encounered on his mission.

About the author:

Brendan Comerford SJ is an author and spiritual director who lectures in the history of Christian spirituality. His previous publications include Disciples of Courage: Ten Christian Lives that Inspire (2022) » and The Pilgrim’s Story: The Life and Spirituality of St Ignatius Loyola (2017) »

The Great Dreamer: The Life and Mission of St Francis Xavier » is published by Messenger Publications, in Ireland and the UK, priced at €12.95/£11.95