Religion: Missionary to the Indies

After the Apostle Paul, Francis Xavier was probably the greatest missionary ever to preach the Christian Gospel. In ten years time, the 16th century Jesuit fought his way through the rediscovered countries of the East, often by himself, to make thousands of Asian converts. Thanks in part to the range and speed of his missionary work, however, Xavier's legend has become barnacled with a mass of apocryphal stories, many of them still piously recounted.

A newly published book, St. Francis Xavier (Wicklow Press; $5), is a highly successful attempt to present the saint and...

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