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This is - with one major exception - a fine vignette for Roman Catholics interested in St. Francis Xavier (1506-1552). As a boy, the youngest son of a noble Navarre family, Francis Xavier was reduced to poverty. Entering the priesthood, he studied theology at the University of Paris, "the brain of Western Culture". Like Henry V two centuries earlier and St. Augustine a millennium earlier - and many young men before and since - the youthful Francis indulged his appetites, passions, irreverence, and spendthrift behavior. But having earned his degree, Francis came into contact with the devout and magnetic Ignatius Loyola who was radically embracing Franciscan poverty and pursuing what he called his "spiritual exercises". Their meeting was one of the classic partnerships in the history of Roman Catholicism. Jaded and demoralized by his own sensual selfishness, Francis began practicing Ignatius's discipline. The spiritual exercises transformed Francis. The two men became fast friends. See The Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius (Tan Classics).
Going to Rome during the time of Pope Paul III, who had fathered several children while a cardinal, the two men were disgusted by the city's decadence. But the pope was impressed with them. He granted them an order - the Company of Jesus: the Jesuits. Xavier and Loyola ministered to the lowest ranks of society. Initially, Francis Xavier remained in Rome as members of the growing Jesuit Order went abroad to proselytize, evangelize, and convert. But in 1540 he left for Lisbon, Portugal, and in 1541 he departed Lisbon for India as the special legate of King John of Portugal and Pope Paul's select ambassador. Of the five galleons that had departed Lisbon, only two reached Goa, India - "a remarkable success by sixteenth-century standards".
Francis took residence at the local hospital for the incurables in Goa, where he visited and bathed the sick, baptized tens of thousands of the poor, and built strong personal ties with the Indian communities through his sincerity and relentless drive. "Xavier either ignored or misunderstood the dynamics of the Hindu caste system.... The concern Xavier showed for the poor prevented him from converting the Brahmins. Francis, to the astonishment of the outcasts, was identifying with them. He was, as it were, in the streets [and] the gutters with them. You mix with an outcast you cannot even be physically close to a Brahmin. He had cut himself off from being able to interact with them."
In 1549, Francis left India for Japan, arriving during the great civil wars preceding the creation of the Tokugawa Shogunate in 1600. In Japan, he ditched his humble attire and instead clothed himself finely, learned Japanese, adopted the refined Japanese way of living, and taught Western science and culture to the Japanese. In Japan, unlike in India, it was the nobles who became the first Catholic converts. Learning of China, in 1552 he attempted to travel there but fell sick and died. "Miracles were ascribed to his intercession almost immediately."
Liam Neeson does a flawless, unimpeachable job as general narrator of this program. But truthfully, it is ironic and distasteful listening to the ecumenical novus ordo "Catholics" who help narrate this program in small segments - their non-comprehension and derogation of Francis Xavier's passion for spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ is obvious; for their "church" [sic] has declared that proselytism is "solemn nonsense" and that all religions are more or less true: So why bother being Catholic, why bother evangelizing? Steeped in the Modernist heresies of Vatican II, they seem to view the life work of St. Francis Xavier for the Roman Catholic Church as some romantic, quirky, quixotian enterprise - because they do not share his orthodox belief and faith that outside the Catholic Church there is no salvation. This fact, Xavier's adamantine belief and faith in that dogma, was responsible for his heroic virtue and tirelessly inspired missionary work to which he sacrificed his life. Hence they cannot understand him. Hence whenever they speak of him, they touch his memory with unclean hands. Saint Francis Xavier believed and preached the dogma outside the Catholic Church there is no salvation: This film engages in false witness in so far as it tries to disguise that fact by never mentioning it once - hence the three stars for an otherwise fine vignette of St. Francis Xavier. To understand the mindset that propelled St. Francis Xavier to sainthood, see Outside the Catholic Church There Is Absolutely No Salvation, and Encyclical Letter: Humani Generis of the Supreme Pontiff Pope Pius XII: On Evolution and Other Modern Errors.