St. Francis Xavier, the patron saint of the College, was born in 1506 in the Castle of Xavier, a fortress in the Basque country of Navarre.
In 1525 he left Spain for the University of Paris, where he was to remain for eleven years. In Paris Francis Xavier made the acquaintance of Ignatius Loyola, who had plans for the formation of a body of men prepared to put their lives at the service of the Pope. These plans led to the foundation of the Society of Jesus – the Jesuit Order – which was given approval by the Pope in 1540. Francis Xavier, who had been received into the priesthood in 1537, was one of the original members of the new order.
In 1540 Francis was invited by the King of Portugal to lead a mission to the East Indies. In the following year he reached Goa, which he made the base for missionary work in India and Ceylon. Early in 1545 Francis left India for Malacca where he continued the work of conversion. It has been claimed that during this time he brought the Christian Faith to the Philippines.
For many years Francis had the ambition of bringing Christianity to Japan. After much difficulty the mission set out in June 1549, and for the following two years he was engaged in preaching to the Japanese in their own language, which he had learned with some difficulty.
After returning to Goa in 1552, Francis set about organising a mission to China, which set out later in the same year. Francis and his companions reached the island of Sancian off the Chinese coast. However, although he was in sight of the mainland, he could continue no further having incurred an illness which proved fatal. He died in the early hours of Saturday 3rd December 1552, at the age of 46.
A small church on Sancian marks the spot where Francis died, but his body was brought back to Goa where it remains to the present day.
When the Jesuits came to Liverpool in 1842 to set up a school in association with Stonyhurst College, they dedicated it to St. Francis Xavier. His feast day is celebrated on December 3rd.