Regarding Stephen Mansfield’s Oct. 18 article “The popular consensus: What is not to like?” (a book review of “Foreigners Who Loved Japan,” by Naito Makamoto and Naito Ken): The Jesuit missionary later known as Saint Francis Xavier was not Portuguese. Of noble lineage, he was born in 1506 in the castle of Xavier (Navarre, northern Spain), the fifth child of Dr. Juan de Jassu and Maria Azpilcueta.
In 1530 he graduated from the University of Paris, where he met fellow Spaniard Ignacio de Loyola, the founder of the Jesuit Order, which was sanctioned by Pope Paul III’s bull dated Sept. 27, 1540.
On April 7, 1541, Francis Xavier started on his missionary trip to India, where he spent several extremely active years. On Aug. 15, 1549, he arrived in Japan, where he founded several missions and traveled extensively, departing in 1551.
Francis Xavier died in China — where he had planned to set up new missions — on Dec. 3, 1552. The Spanish region of Navarre marks Dec. 3 as its official holiday. Although the Jesuit Order had many Portuguese among its most brilliant and early members, Francis Xavier was Spanish.