St. Francis Xavier (Francisco do Yasu y Javier ) was born in a royal family on April 7, 1506 in Spain and he was the fifth and last child to his parents. He was called in the name, Francisco. Since his family name was Xavier, he was called as Francis Xavier as well. In the year 1515, his father died when he was nine years old. Francis Xavier was interested in preaching. He did his higher studies in " The University of Paris" and his family members expected that after finishing his studies he would return home, but he took to preaching Christianity. During his studies he got friends with another student Peter Baber from Italy. With his help, he learned Latin. Another of his friend was Inigo called as Ignatius of Loyola. Under the leadership of Ignatius, seven students from Parparak College spread out to preach Christianity. One among them was Francis Xavier and these seven were the founders of the group, Jesuits. Francis Xavier was awarded the title of priest in the year 1537.
In the year 1541, he started his journey from Spain to India. En route, he stayed in Africa with Saint Thomas for some days and finally reached Goa in the year 1542.There he met patients, prisoners and poor people. In the same year he travelled to Manappadu near Tiruchendur in south Tamil Nadu and started preaching there. During that time, he used to visit Kottar in nearby Kanyakumari district. During that time, he helped the Travancore king in defeating a Pandya king. As a reward in return, the king facilitated Francis Xavier in his missionary activities. Hence Kottar became a centre for Francis Xavier's missionary service.
In 1552, he went to Kochi and again to Goa. From there, he wanted to move on to China. On his way to China on sea, he fell ill and on December 3, he breathed his last on a small island (Changchuen) . In Dec 3, 1552 the Saint died at the age of 46 years, seven months and twenty six days, of which he had spent 10 years and 7 months minus 4 days in Asia. He was in the islands off the coast of China where he wished to enter and spread the Gospel, when he fell ill with a fever which lasted 13 days. He finally succumbed in the night between Dec 2 and Dec 3, praying quietly, invoking the Holy Trinity.
The next day his body was given a lowly burial of the poor, on the beach of Sancian off the coast of China. Only four persons were present at the grave: Antonio the Chinaman, two servants to dig the grave, and a fellow Portuguese, Francisco Sanches. They had decided to pack the body with lime as it would consume the flesh and leave only the bare bones in the event it would be decided to transport the remains back to Goa.
Then in Feb 17, 1553—the body was exhumed to see if it was fit for transport to Malacca and then to Goa. They were amazed to find the body without any sign of decay or corruption. A piece of flesh was cut from above the left knee, from which it gushed blood as if from a living person. They took the body in an open coffin and filled it with lime, hoping the open sea would help the lime do its work decomposing the flesh quicker.
Later during March 22, 1553—the body reached Malacca where there was a Jesuit mission where Xavier often preached and taught. They had a Mass for the dead for him there. When they removed his body from the lime in order to place him in a grave which had been hollowed out of rock near the high altar, they found the body as fresh as someone who had died but yesterday. Without even removing the lime which had stuck to the body and clothes, the servants had placed the body without a coffin as was the custom of the place, with nothing but a handkerchief thrown over the face. As the grave was found to be too short, they pressed the head over the breast, thus breaking the neck. This position of the head has remained ever since. They then filled the grave with earth and thumped it down with heavy weights, thus inflicting further injuries to the body.
In August 5, 1553 Fr. Juan de Beira, successor Francis in the Molucca missions could not leave the Malaccas without seeing the remains of his former superior and model. He and Diogo Pereira, in the dead of night, had the grave opened and the body taken out. To their great astonishment the body was still fresh, showing no signs of corruption, though the burial had left its marks on the body : the nose was crushed, there were bruises on the face and a sharp stone had made a wound on the left side. Finally it dawned on these guys such a life like body should not again be consigned to a grave. They secretly removed it, closing the grave up behind them. They laid the body in a new coffin and clothed it in the rich linen that Francis Xavier had meant to bring as presents to the Emperor of China. Thus he lay in secret until it was placed on board a ship to Goa, Dec 11, 1553.
Around March 16, 1554—the holy body of Francis Xavier reached Goa. It was met with frenzied jubilation from the people. There were reports of the odor of sanctity which accompanied the body and an inspired sense of prayer and devotion among the people. The next day a doctor examined the body and reported that it was like a fresh body. Then in June 1554-- The Viceroy sent a physician who examined the body. He was surprised to find a body which was dead for a year and a half and buried for a year to be in such a fresh state. He verified there had been no embalming and that the organs were all in their natural position. He “observed a wound in the left side near the heart and asked two of the Society who were with him to put their fingers into it. When they withdrew them, they were covered with blood which smelled absolutely untainted.” One of the Jesuits who accompanied this examination wrote “I assure you that [the body] emitted a wonderful and sweet odour. I myself put one of my hands into the stomach and I found it full because they had not drawn out the intestines at his death or afterwards, and what I found there was all like coagulated blood, smooth and soft, which looked red and smelt sweet.”
In 1554—the little toe on the right foot was bitten off by a Portuguese lady named Dona Isabel de Carom, “as she was anxious to have a relic of the Saint.” It gushed blood, as if from a living body. Three other toes were later removed as relics from his right foot, one which rests in its native Castle of Xavier (birthplace of Francis Xavier). Later in November 3, 1614—The right arm was cut off by order of Father General Claude Aquaviva. Cut at the elbow, it was sent to Rome in the following year, where it is kept in a silver reliquary and venerated in the church of Gesu. The body was found to be “beautiful and whole” at the time of this desiccation. The eyes were bright and black and the lips scarlet red, the tongue moist and pink, the beard black and thick. The limbs flexed easily, according to the report. “The forehead is broad and high, with two rather large veins, soft and of a purple tint, running down the middle as is often seen in talented persons who concentrate a great deal. The eyes are lively and sweet, with so penetrating a glance that he would seem to be alive and breathing. The lips are of a bright reddish colour and the beard is thick. In the cheeks there is a delicate vermilion tint. The tongue is quite flexible, red and moist and the chin is beautifully proportioned. In a word, the body has all the appearances of being that of a living man. The blood is fluid, the lips flexible, the flesh solid, the colour lively, the feet straight, the nails well formed. The loss of two toes left a darkish trace on the right leg. But for this, there can be found no other body so clean and sound as the body of the Apostle of the Indies. It is so great a marvel and miracle that on seeing it, while I was present, the Commissary of the Dutch East India Company, Mynheer Vandryeers, became at once a convert to the Catholic Faith."
In April 27, 1619—the rest of the right arm with the shoulder blade was cut off at the order of the same Fr General in order to satisfy the request of the Jesuit Province of Japan for a great relic of its first apostle. At that time Japan was in the middle of a fierce persecution. Many small pieces of relic have been made from these pieces and sent to congregations and shrines throughout the world. Bits of skin, hair, nails were removed and distributed. Atlast in 1698—The Jesuit authorities in Rome ordered the holy relic to be enclosed in glass to prevent further desiccation. This glass coffin was later encased in a silver casket. The relics of St Francis Xavier have been enclosed in a glass case since February 13, 1955. It rests a top a tall pedestal, the marble mausoleum, which is to the right of the main altar of the Basilica. The details of the ears and eyelids and nose and lips and wrinkles in the skin on the cheeks are incredible considering it was never preserved in any way, not even air conditioned or hermetically sealed to keep out the effects of the caustic Indian weather of intense heat and humidity. It should be noted that the Basilica doors and windows are kept open most of the day, allowing heat and humidity in freely, and without any type of air conditioning, as is the norm for all churches and most buildings and houses. The body has always been subject to these conditions, even to this day, as it lays in an ordinary glass case, its removable lid held in place by screws.
The remains of the Saint are exposed every ten years around the anniversary of his death until the Epiphany. The last one was Dec 3, 2002 to Jan 6, 2003, in honor of the 450th anniversary of the death of the Saint. This day, many report miracles and conversions as a result of the intercession of this great Saint Francis Xavier, the Apostle to the Indies. Father Francis converted thousands to the Christian faith and performed many miracles, including raising a boy from the dead; and many more conversions and miraculous events are attributed to him after his death.