Our Patron

About Our Patron

Early Life

Francis Xavier was born of a noble and devoted family on April 7, 1506 in the royal castle of Javier (Xavier), near Pampeluna in the kingdom of Navarre part of present day Spain. He was the youngest son of Juan de Jasso and Dona Maria de Azpilcueta who baptised him with the name ‘Francis’ and added Xavier that derived from the Castle name Javier. His childhood was one of privilege having the best education at their castle itself.

At the age of 18 Francis went to study at the prestigious University of Paris where he earned his Master of Arts degree. Because of his deep knowledge of the subject and reputation of work commitment the University appointed him as the Professor of Philosophy. In short time Francis won the hearts of the student community.

It is during his stay at the University he had come under the spell of Ignatius of Loyola, his country man who had experienced a religious conversion while recovering from a war wound and later became a saint in the Church. While Francis was full of worldly desires and dreams of his future Ignatius of Loyola did his utmost to convince Francis to join him on the same path of devotion.


Religious Priest

On August 15, 1534, in the Montmartre section of Paris, Xavier, Loyola and five others pledged themselves to the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits). In addition to vows of celibacy and poverty, they also promised to visit the Holy Land. After having completed his studies for priesthood in Paris he was ordained to priesthood in 1537 in the Society of Jesus to which he was also one of the founders.


Missionary

Impressed by the Jesuits, King John III of Portugal asked the Society for missionaries to work in his empire. Thus, Loyola selected a group of seven others for the task and Xavier was one among them. With great joy, praising God he left behind his country, family, friends and relatives started his missionary journey to India after praying to the Mother of God in the same church where Vas coda Gama prayed. During his long voyage on the way, at Chchkopara island blessed and baptized the descendants of St. Thomas. Francis after a dangerous In 1542 the ship “Santiago” that carried our missionary reached the shore of Goa in India.


In Goa

His reputation was so that the people lovingly called him “the great Father”. Having a hand bell and ringing the same Francis Xavier went about gathering the people and preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a way that was appealing to the listeners. Learning the ability of Francis the Bishop of Goa wanted to appoint him as the head of the college in Goa. Knowing that such undertaking would deter his evangelization ministry he denied to accept this offer. Later he came to the coastal regions of Tuticorin, Kanyakumari, Manapad etc and preached the Gospel of Christ learning the local language Tamil. Wherever, he went he converted a huge mass of people to Christ.


At the Coastal Villages

According to Cardwell, in Tuticorin Francis was preaching under a tree planted by the Arab business men found at the cemetery of the Portuguese on the left side of the church dedicated to Blessed Mother used for the worship by the Portuguese. In his letter Francis Xavier mentioned that he sowed the seed of the Gospel in Manapad, Alanthalai, Punnaikayal, Vaipaaru, Vempaaru, Veerapandiyapattinam, Uvari and baptized so many people that his hands became reddish.

The weather of the places affected him badly; he made bodily penance by eating only one meal a day and sleeping on the floor. He used to wear black cassock, a rosary around his neck and always carried a cross in his hand. Walking all through Keezhakarai, Periyapattinam, Vedalai, Verkkadu, Kadukarai, Athangkarai, Komputhurai and baptized the “Karayar” caste people. In short from Travancore coast to Rameswaram coast he had his divine reign.


Education Ministry

Even before 400 years ago he established schools, appointed teachers in the coastal villages and paying salary from the Portuguese governor. In these schools both Tamil and Portuguese was taught. Francis getting the help of experts he prepared catechism pamphlets and distributed them to the wards.

While continuing his missionary service in Periyathalai, Perumanal, Koottapuli, Idinthakarai, Koothankuzhi, Uvari he stationed himself at Periyathalai. It was at Periyathalai he served the Paravas and defended them from the Vadukar who gave them trouble. This information is found in his letter to his friend Mancilal written on 21.08.1544. During his short stay at Manapad along with two students Manuel and Gaspar our saintly priest Francis Xavier used to go to Thiruchendur Murugan Temple and dialogued with Brahmins. As a result one of them got converted to Christianity and was baptised in 1550 taking the name Manuel Cutino.


Built Churches

Those days it was forbidden to build churches with stones; therefore, wherever he went he built churches made of mud, palm and coconut leaves. Paul Vas a close associate of Francis Xavier in 1545 wrote a letter to Lisbon saying that Francis Xavier built 44 to 45 churches in the coastal villages. Francis himself says that he erected a church at Komputhurai and in Vaipparru, Punnaikayal built small shrines with cross on the top. Marco polo pointed out that Francis had an extended socio-religious service at Punnaikayal which was known as the “Rome of Tamizhagam”.


Religious and Social Services

On June 1544 the Vadukar army entered Cape Comorin through Aralvaimozhi and tortured the Christian Paravar fisher folk. Seeing this situation Francis felt the divine responsibility of safeguarding his people. Francis opposed the Vadukar army holding a Cross on the hand stood on a high place at Vadaseri about two kilometres from Kottar. Seeing the saint with the Cross the army turned back and withdrew for reasons unknown. The place is even today known as “Vadaseri Medu”. Here, in 1603 Rev.Fr. Andreas Pucherio built the first church.


With the King

Unni Karalathiruvadi known as Ramavarma ruled Travancore in 1541. His kingdom extended from Kanyakumari to Quilon and South Trinelveli. From 1544 Marthandavarma younger brother Ramavarma ruled the Travancore region having his palace at Trivithancode. Pandiya king Perumal using the Pullars entered into the territory of Ramavarma and captured a few places. Realising that it was not possible to chase the Pullars with his army the king sought the help of the Portuguese through the intermediary of Father Francis. The Portuguese Governor Alphonse respecting the intermediary work of Francis consented to help Ramavarma and thus chased the Pullars from the invaded territories of Ramavarma. As a token of gratitude the king Ramavarma permitted the people to accept Christianity and erect churches. He also donated a good sum of cash for the same purpose.

On November 1544 Francis Xavier started his missionary service from Quilon and continued at Poovaru, Kollancode, Vallavilai, Thuthoor, Poonthurai, Thengapattinam, Inayam, Midalam, Kurmpanai ...


At Our Soil Alanchy

Alanchy is a village geographically situated between Kurumpanai and Midalam. Traditionally it was said and believed that there were five banyan trees (all anchi) and thus, the village got the name Alanchy. From the time of our forefathers it is the oral tradition that the saint rested under the shade of these trees. However, Alanchy was blessed because it was the saint’s mission place and we have him as our patron. Our neighbouring village Kurumpanai has the patron saint Ignatius of Loyola who was his companion is another proof of his close association with Alanchy.


Mission Continues

The saint extended his missionary service to Vaniyakudy, Colachel, Kadiypattinam, Muttom Thurai, Pallam, Manakudy. “I couldn’t administer the sacrament of baptism to all the people of Manakudy”, he wrote to his friend Mancilal. In almost all part of Kanyakumari he reached out.


Preached and Performed Miracles

Through his prayer a woman at Komputhurai who had been suffering for three days finally gave birth to the child. In the same village a boy fell into the well was saved. In Periyathazhai the boy namely Augustine who died of snake bite through his prayer got back his life. At Rajakamangalam the child who was at deathbed got healed through his prayer.


Going to Goa

After having sowing the seed of God’s word, again Francis Xavier returned to Goa. From there he set out his missionary journey to Ceylon, Malakka, China, Japan and so on.


The lost Cross and the Crab

While travelling from Ambaina island to Seram island the boat got into the heavy winds and the passengers got terrified with the fear of being killed. The saintly priest took the cross from his neck and prayed and meanwhile, the cross fell in the rough sea. To the happiness of all the people in the boat the sea became calm and normal and at the same time the saint was worried about the loss of the cross which he treasured. Later, when he was going to another village to his pleasant surprise he found a crab carrying the lost cross on its back. He thanked God and blessed the crab. Because of this, it is believed the same family crab on its shell has an image of cross even today.


Again, in India

Leaving Japan after nearly two years of missionary service Francis stopped at Malacca and in January 1552 he again reached India. In February 1552 assumed the responsibility of Goa province. After a short stay of three months on17 April 1552 he set sail with Diogo Perira on the ship Santa Cruz for China. In late August 1552, the Santa Cruz reached the Chinese island of Shangchuan, Taishan 14 km away from the Southern coast of mainland China.


Last Days

On November 22, 1552 Francis became sick and intending to have rest he got into Santa Cruz that was anchored. On November 23, he requested to take him back to the shore because of severe fever that he was suffering and his health was ebbing rapidly. His friends Antonio and Diago Vaz were worried of seeing the condition of the saintly missionary priest. On December 2, Friday he realized that he was at the door steps of death. Antonio gave a lighted candle in his hand. Having his eyes fixed on the crucifix whispering: “In Te Domine, speravi, non confundar in aeterum” which means “I have put my trust, O Lord, let me not be confounded”, he gave up his soul to his Creator on 3 December 1552, while he was waiting to go to the mainland China.

His corpse was vested with the Mass vestments and kept in a wooden coffin and was buried near the shore where the ship Santa Cruz was anchored. In order to fasten the process of decaying the body and to take the mortal remains to his native land the body was covered with quicklime (calcium oxide) before its burial. After six weeks time of burial, Antonio his friend wanting to take the corpse with him opened the grave and to his surprise found the body intact as if it was in deep sleep without any sign of decaying.

Francis Xavier preserved with him a special silk dress with the dream and desire: “I will go to China; will meet the Chinese King; will appear before him cladding this special dress”. But now this dress was used to cover his dead body and taken to Malacca and buried once again in a church in the presence of huge number of people which remained until it was carried to Goa on 15 August 1552.

Finally, after a prayerful procession participated by an enthusiastic huge number of people his incorrupt body was installed in ‘Bon Gesu’ church in Goa.


Canonized Saint

On 25 October 1619, Pope Paul V beatified Francis Xavier. Pope Gregory XV who canonized Sts. Ignatius of Loyola, Philip Neri, Theresa of Avila also canonized Francis Xavier and added him in the list of the saints in 1622.

After the independence of Indian, Goa remained as part of India and the Portuguese wanted to take the incorrupt body of the saint to Portugal. But, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru did not allow the body to be taken to Portugal. Even after 450 years the body of St. Francis Xavier remains incorrupt till date and this is certainly a precious property to the Church.

Saint Francis Xavier as the patron of our village Alenchy blesses and grants favours to all who come to him. Because of this with great and respect and reverence people call him, “Arul tharum Alenchy thooya Saveriyar” (Graces favouring Alenchy St. Xaiver). All those who come to our Saint in love are sure to get favours and blessings.

Compiled by:
Mr. J. John, MA, M.Ed
Translated by:
Rev. Fr. S. Maria Arul, CMF

"For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Matthew 16:26)