Lyon: Petri Rigaud, 1607. Early edition. Small octavo (6 3/4 inches tall), contemporary brown morocco, rebacked with original spine laid down, central coat of arms within a lozenge design of small leafy tools, corners with sprigs, fillet border. Calligraphic ink inscription in Latin dated 1611 to blank flyleaf, mild dampstaining to lower right corner of text block, marginal tears with loss to earliest and last leaves, not affecting text. A handsome copy. Item #672
Early edition of this important early life of the greatest of the Jesuit missionaries, in a beautiful gilt Spanish armorial binding. After befriending his fellow Basque at the University of Paris, Francis Xavier became one of the six founding members of the Society of Jesus. Named apostolic nuncio to Asia, Francis departed for Portuguese Goa in 1541. "It was the beginning of one of the greatest of all missionary journeys, lasting eleven years, and one from which he would never return. In his parting letter to Ignatius, he wrote, 'For what is left of this life, I am well assured, it will be by letter only that we shall be be together—in the other we shall embrace face to face'" (Robert Ellsberg, All Saints). Francis labored in India, Sri Lanka, and Japan before he died just off the coast of China in December 1552 at the age of forty-six.
Pope Gregory XV canonized Francis Xavier—together with Ignatius of Loyola—in 1622. "Orazio Torsellini spent 22 years as a professor of classical literature at the Jesuit Roman College…His apostolic interests and gifts as rhetorician found expression in an early biography of the Jesuit missionary Francis Xavier" (Lucas, 271). First published in 1593, Torsellini's biography preceded the canonization and appeared shortly before another important life of Francis, the Historia de la vida del P. Francesco Xavier (1600), by the Portuguese Jesuit João de Luceña. The Latin text is decorated with three miniature woodcuts, including the emblem of the Society of Jesus on the title page, a portrait (captioned: "B Franciscus Xauerius qui primus ex Societate Iesu fidem in Indiam inuexit") and a closing colophon. In 1927, Francis was named (along with Therese of Lisieux) the patron saint of foreign missionaries.