Francis Xavier was one of the original seven who formed the Society of Jesus with Ignatius Loyola in 1534. Francis became one of the great missionaries to the east, especially Japan.
Francis was born in 1506 into an aristocratic family in Xavier, Navarre, Spain, and was educated in Paris. There he met Ignatius Loyola and became one of the original Jesuits. They took vows to follow Christ in poverty and chastity and to evangelise the heathen. It is as an evangelist that Francis is remembered. He was a brave, passionate and completely single-minded man, whose duty and delight it was to preach the gospel in season and out of season.
Francis thought that his mission to Japan had not been successful, but in fact it laid great foundations, which bore fruit in the next generation. He carried out his mission successively in Kagoshima, Hirado and Yamaguchi. He learned Japanese and translated a brief statement of Christian beliefs into Japanese. Eventually he went to the capital, Miyako, and attempted to see the Mikado. When not at first admitted to the presence of the Mikado because of his unprepossessing poverty, he dressed in finery as a representative of the king of Portugal, and was admitted. He was granted a disused Buddhist monastery for his work. Half a century later, the church in Japan came under severe persecution.
After establishing the Church in Japan and leaving about 2,000 converts, Francis returned to Goa. He then set out for China, but died on the way there in December 1552.
Brother Charles of Jesus was born in 1858 into a rich French family and spent his youth as a playboy, soldier and explorer. All this came to an end when he was dramatically converted to Christ and became a monk in the Trappist order. He was seeking a thoroughly ascetic life, and even the Trappist rule was not demanding enough for him. So he lived out his vocation in poverty as a hermit in the Sahara Desert among its tribespeople. Finally he joined the priesthood. Inspired by his life and example, the Communities of the Little Brothers and Sisters of Jesus sprang up after his death in 1916, which came by the hands of fanatical Muslim bandits after he was betrayed by his own servant.
His great theme was abandonment to the love of Christ. Nothing else mattered to him, and he was never completely satisfied with the state of his own soul. His heart’s true desire was to give all his love to Christ and to suffer for that love, offering his tears on behalf of those who needed his prayers. Often he would stay awake through the night simply to share the presence of God with him. Like the Celtic saints of old he sought to offer all the activities of each day to God in prayer, or simply by focussing his thoughts on God, the all-wise Father who loved him dearly and gave him only what was good for him.
We learn almost nothing about Andrew from the synoptic Gospels, but he plays a more prominent role in John’s Gospel. There he appears as a disciple of John the Baptist. He and another disciple see Jesus as the fulfilment of John’s prophetic ministry, and decide to follow Jesus instead of John (John 1:35-40). It is Andrew who then effects the introduction to Jesus of his brother Simon Peter (John 1:4f). This story in fact makes intelligible the acceptance of Jesus’ call by these brothers and their fishing partners, the sons of Zebedee, in the synoptic tradition (Matthew 4:18-22), which is otherwise not explained.
Later, Andrew is found associated with another apostle from Bethsaida, Philip. When Jesus tests the disciples by challenging them with the hunger of the multitude, Philip asserts that they could not afford the amount of bread that would be needed. Andrew adds: "What use are a few loaves and a couple of fish?" (John 6:5-9), but he nevertheless brings the boy with the loaves and fishes to Jesus for the feeding of the multitude. Later in John’s Gospel, at the feast in Jerusalem, some Greeks who want to see Jesus approach Philip, and Philip consults his fellow townsman, Andrew, who tells Jesus of the request (John 12:20-22).
As one of the first two to follow Jesus, and also as a kind of bridge with the Gentile world, Andrew is an appropriately missionary apostle. Apart from Andrew’s inclusion among the four who ask Jesus about signs of the end (Mark 13:3), and the listing of his name among the Twelve, the Synoptic Gospels add no further information about him.
Eusebius in his Church History quoted Origen as saying that Andrew preached in Scythia. The Chronicle of Nestor adds that he preached along the Black Sea and the Dnieper river as far as Kiev, and from there he travelled to Novgorod. Hence, he became a patron saint of Ukraine, Romania and Russia. According to Hippolytus of Rome, Andrew preached in Thrace, and his presence in Byzantium is mentioned in the apocryphal Acts of Andrew. According to tradition, he founded the See of Byzantium (later Constantinople and Istanbul) in AD 38, installing Stachys as bishop. This diocese would later develop into the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Andrew, along with Saint Stachys, is recognized as the patron saint of the Patriarchate. Basil of Seleucia also knew of Apostle Andrew's missions in Thrace, Scythia and Achaea.
Andrew is said to have been martyred by crucifixion at the city of Patras in Achaea, in AD 60. Early texts, such as the Acts of Andrew known to Gregory of Tours, describe Andrew as bound, not nailed, to a Latin cross of the kind on which Jesus is said to have been crucified; yet a tradition developed that Andrew had been crucified on a cross of the form called crux decussata (X-shaped cross), now commonly known as a "Saint Andrew's Cross" — supposedly at his own request, as he deemed himself unworthy to be crucified on the same type of cross as Jesus had been.
Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland, on account of the legend of the translation of his relics there in the eighth century. Several legends state that these were brought by divine guidance from Constantinople to the place where the modern Scottish town of St Andrews stands today. The oldest surviving manuscripts are two: one is among the manuscripts collected by Jean-Baptiste Colbert and willed to Louis XIV of France, now in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris; the other is the Harleian Mss in the British Library, London. They state that the relics of Andrew were brought by one Regulus to the Pictish king Óengus mac Fergusa (729–761). The only historical Regulus (Riagail or Rule) whose name is preserved in the tower of St Rule was an Irish monk expelled from Ireland with Saint Columba; his dates, however, are c. 573 – 600. There are good reasons for supposing that the relics were originally in the collection of Acca, bishop of Hexham, who took them into Pictish country when he was driven from Hexham (c. 732), and founded a see, not, according to tradition, in Galloway, but on the site of St Andrews.
According legendary accounts given in 16th-century historiography, Óengus II in AD 832 led an army of Picts and Scots into battle against the Angles, led by Æthelstan, near modern-day Athelstaneford, East Lothian. The legend states that he was heavily outnumbered and hence whilst engaged in prayer on the eve of battle, Óengus vowed that if granted victory he would appoint Saint Andrew as the Patron Saint of Scotland. On the morning of battle white clouds forming an X shape in the sky were said to have appeared. Óengus and his combined force, emboldened by this apparent divine intervention, took to the field and despite being inferior in numbers were victorious. Having interpreted the cloud phenomenon as representing the crux decussata upon which Saint Andrew was crucified, Óengus honoured his pre-battle pledge and duly appointed Saint Andrew as the Patron Saint of Scotland. The white saltire set against a celestial blue background is said to have been adopted as the design of the flag of Scotland on the basis of this legend.
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