Novena to St Francis Xavier SJ

Published on 01 Mar 2017
Painting of St Francis Xavier

This novena, produced by the Jesuit Institute, is nine days of prayer, in the company of St Francis Xavier, through the letters he wrote. As a Jesuit, Francisco underwent and then, in turn, led others through the Spiritual Exercises of his great friend St Ignatius Loyola SJ. His writings reflect the spiritual insights and preoccupations of the Spiritual Exercises. We pray to know ourselves better, to discern the will of God for each of us in the daily unfolding of our lives, to hear and generously answer Christ’s call to follow him, whatever the cost, and to understand that everything is unmerited gift from God, poured out lavishly upon us “as rays from the sun or waters from the spring.”

The Novena of Grace is traditionally prayed either from 4th to 12th March, the day Francis was declared a saint in 1622, or from 25th November, ending on St Francis Xavier’s feast day on 3rd December. But, of course, it is a devotion that may be prayed at any time.

You can also download the leaflet PDF icon FranciscoFINAL.pdf

Traditional Novena Prayer

O most kind and loving saint, 

in union with you I adore the most divine majesty.

The memory of the favours with which God blessed you during life,

and of your glory after death, fills me with joy.

And I unite with you in offering to him my humble tribute of thanksgiving and praise.

I implore of you to secure for me, through your powerful intercession,

the all-important blessing of living and dying in a state of grace.

I also ask you to obtain the favour I ask in this novena.
(Here pause to ask the favour you seek.)
But if what I ask is not for the greater glory of God, or the good of my soul,

obtain for me what is most conducive to both.



O God, who was pleased to gather to your Church the peoples of the East

by the preaching and miracles of St Francis Xavier, mercifully grant that we, 

who honour his glorious merits, may also imitate the example of his virtues, 

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Our Father
Hail Mary
Glory be to the Father
Day 1

"May our Lord increase the days of [your] life for many years, and may he grant you to feel in this present life his most holy will and the spiritual strength to fulfil it, so that you do and accomplish that which at the hour of your death you will wish to have done."

Letter to King John III of Portugal from Malacca in Malaysia, 23rd June 1549
◊ What are the things in my life of which I am most proud?
◊ Which of these things will I be most pleased to place before God at the close of my life?

◊ What do I need to do more of, or less of, if I am to present my best self to God my Lord?
Lord, each day you give me new life, new graces,

new opportunities to feel your presence.

Give me the gift of attentiveness

to notice you in the people and things which surround my life;

that I may grow in faith, and hope, and love.

Day 2
“I therefore ask God our Lord to grant us to know and experience his most holy will and, once we have experienced it, great strength and much grace to fulfil it with charity in this life.” 

Letter to the Jesuits at Rome from Cochin in India, 27th January 1545
◊ What does God ask of me in my day-to-day life?
◊ Ask God for the strength to do and to be this.
◊ Who or what do I find it most difficult to be charitable towards, even to love?
Father, each day you show me the love of a parent for its child:

watchful of my every step, eager for me to thrive.

You are delight in my happiness and patient consolation in my sadness.

May the constant love in which you enfold me

give me the confidence to show that same love to friend and foe,

family and stranger, alike. 

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Day 3
“May God our Lord grant us in time the gift to perceive his holy will. He wishes that should always be ready to fulfil it whenever he manifests it to us and lets us feel it within our souls. To fare well in this life, we must be pilgrims ready to go wherever we can serve God our Lord the more.”

Letter to Francisco Mansilhas SJ from Negapatam in India, 7th April 1545
◊ Do I look for signs of what God wants of me: in my prayer, in moments of silence, in what others say to me?
◊ Am I ready to follow where God leads?
◊ Or do I always set the agenda for everything I do?
Father, you speak to me in the silence and in the empty spaces of my life.

Give me ears to hear your voice in stillness and in the gentle breeze;

eyes to see your presence in things that seem so insignificant at the time.

Free me from the relentless whirl of activity, from the obsessions which so limit me

and snatch away my freedom to answer your call.

Like St Francis, may I too become a pilgrim,

called to walk the path you set before me, wherever it may lead

but always safe in the knowledge that Christ walks beside me unseen.

Day 4
“I have decided to go to the Moro Islands to assist the Christians in spiritual matters, exposing myself to every danger of death, placing all my confidence and hope in God our Lord, desiring to conform myself, in keeping with my slight and feeble strength, to the saying of Christ our Redeemer and Lord that ‘whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.’”

Letter to the Jesuits of Europe from Amboina in India, 10th May 1546
◊ What activities, pastimes, possessions, relationships in my life are non-negotiable?
◊ Do any of these things get in the way of my relationship with God?
◊ What do I need to relinquish to be free to be my true self in following God’s calling?
Lord, before I ever came into being you knew me and loved me.

You have knit me together the way I am,

and given me life and laughter,

friends and the faces of kind strangers,

and a world of wonder and new discovery.
Grant me the freedom and the courage

to discover you anew each day

in the people I meet, in the places I go,

in the sounds I hear and the things I see.

Through Christ our Lord. 

Day 5
“God our Lord gives to all sufficient grace to serve him and to preserve themselves from sin . . . all our good and evil consists in making good or evil use of his grace. We are much consoled in seeing that God our Lord sees our intentions, desires and motives for going to Japan.”

Letter to the Jesuits of Europe from Malacca in Malaysia, 22nd June 1549
◊ Reflect on the strengths of character with which God has blessed you.
◊ How do you use these strengths for the good?
◊ How do you sometimes use them for evil?
Lord Jesus, it is so easy to be tempted

as you were tempted in the desert;

to make poor decisions for quick gains and satisfaction;

to turn the wonderful gifts of your generosity to unworthy and selfish ends.

Give me, day by day, the same Spirit of strength 

with which you faced down those desert temptations of power, wealth and honour;

that my desire and motives, my words and actions,

may always be to the greater glory of God my Lord.
Day 6
“At night before you go to sleep, you should retire to some place and examine the things which happened to you that day, your thoughts, words and actions, examining your conscience with great diligence . . . and at the end you should say an Our Father and a Hail Mary. After this has been finished, you should lie down, occupying yourself with the thought of how you are to amend yourself on the following day.” 

Letter to Jesuit Novice, João Bravo, from Malacca in Malaysia, 23rd June 1549
◊ Take a few moments to think back over your day.
◊ What were the thoughts, the words and the actions of which you were most proud?
◊ What were the thoughts, the words and the actions which you regret?
Father, as I look back on this day,

there are so many teeming thoughts,

such a babble of words,

and such a blur of activity,

that it is difficult to see your gentle and faithful presence amid it all.

Show yourself to me today, and every day.

Day 7
“There is reason for giving infinite praise and thanks to God at the sight of a king who is so well and piously inclined towards the things of God, and to such an extent that if I were not a witness of it all, as I am, I would not be able to believe what I have seen in him.”

Letter to Ignatius Loyola SJ and Jean Codure SJ from Lisbon in Portugal, 18th March 1541
◊ Do I look for the goodness in other people?
◊ Do I take the trouble to give credit where credit is due?
◊ Do I set out to copy the good example that others set for me?
God our Father, praise to you!

I am surrounded by so many good people, if only I take the time to notice:

People who speak your word of compassion and kindness;

people who act to give reality to your justice and reconciliation;

people whose lives are good seed growing in rich soil.

Give me too the grace to live in your Spirit,

and to be your presence for those I meet

as I go about the business of my day.

Day 8
“O my God, almighty and merciful Father, creator of all things of the world, I firmly believe in you, my God and Lord, since you are my entire good. You, Lord, created me and you have given me body and soul and all that I have. And you, my God, have made me in your likeness. Thanks be to God!”

From the Short Catechism written by St Francis Xavier for the people of Goa in India, May 1542
◊ Take time to consider the gifts God has given you.
◊ Count the blessings he has poured out on you.
◊ Give thanks!

you are entire goodness

and you are goodness for me.

Creator of all things,

who hold all things in being for me,

give me faith in you

and in myself.



Day 9
“I therefore ask you to base all that you do entirely upon God and not to trust your own abilities, knowledge or reputation; and in this way I shall know that you are ready for all the great trials spiritual as well as worldly, which can afflict you, for God raises up and supports the humble, especially those who in small and lowly matters have seen, as in a polished mirror, their own weaknesses and have conquered them.” 

Letter to the Jesuits of Goa from Kagoshima in Japan, 5th November 1549
◊ Do you trust your own abilities and judgements more than you trust God?
◊ Have you noticed God raising you up and supporting you?
◊ If you look at your life and your personality in the polished mirror, do you see a person who is loved and completely accepted by God?
God our Father,

as St Francis Xavier travelled to the ends of the earth,

impelled by love of Christ and afire with his good news,

give me the trust and the grace to base all that I do entirely on you,

safe in the knowledge that you raise up the lowly and fill us with good things.

Through Christ our Lord.