Saint Francis Xavier and Saint Teresa of Lisieux are the Patron Saints of Mission
In 1927, Pope Pius XI declared Saint Francis Xavier together with the then newly canonized Saint Teresa of Lisieux, patron Saints of all Catholic Missions.
The choice of these two Saints has a very important message. At first, it left a number of people puzzled. Why a Carmelite nun? Saint Teresa of the Infant Jesus (1873-1897) was chosen as co-patron of Missions. Saint Teresa spent nine years in the Carmelite convent of Lisieux, France. She entered the convent at the age of 15 and died at age of 24. She never left the convent.
Saint Francis Xavier is evidently the model of all missionaries and missionary work.
In the short space of ten years (from May 6,1542, his arrival in Goa, to his death on December 2, 1552, on the island of Shangchuan), Saint Francis Xavier had visited India, Malacca, Japan, and was planning the evangelization of China. He traversed many seas, preached the Gospel to many nations, and converted many people during his missionary career. The incomparable apostolic zeal which animated him, and the stupendous miracles which God wrought through him, explain this marvel, which has no equal elsewhere. He was canonized together with Saint Ignatius of Loyola in 1622.
The body of the Saint Francis Xavier is still enshrined at Goa in the church, which formerly belonged to the Society of Jesus. Saint Francis Xavier continues to attract pilgrims from all over the world and from all races and religions. No one has ever queried the choice of St. Francis Xavier as a patron of mission.
But then, we may ask ourselves, why choose Saint Teresa of the Infant Jesus as patroness of Missions?
Even as a child, Saint Teresa was fascinated by the missions. She lived at a time of epic missionary expansion, which saw hundreds of young priests and nuns leaving for Africa, South America, China and the South Seas.
When she entered the Carmelites, she said: “I came to save souls and especially to pray for priests”. By praying for priests, she wanted to become an “apostle of apostles” and so make herself an even more effective missionary.
Increasingly, the whole purpose of her life became “to love Jesus and make Him loved”.