St. Francis Xavier, Patron Saint of Goa

St. Francis Xavier

Francis de Jasso Xavier, was born on April 7th 1506 at the Aristo critic castle at Pampelona, Navarre, Spain. He was the youngest son of Dom Joao de Jasso Xavier and Maria Azplicueta e Xavier. The Xavier Castel was destroyed in a revolt in 1515 and the family left Spain and took up their residence in France. Francis pursued his studies at the University of Paris.

After graduation he came in contact with St. Ignatius of Loyola who wielded a great influence on him. On completion of his priestly studies, he joined the society of Jesuit which received Papal approval in 1540. It was on his 35th birthday in 1541 that Francis embarked for Goa in the company of the new governor of Goa, Martin Affonso de Souza in the boat "S. Tiago'. After a span of 13 months he reached Mormugao on 6th may 1542.

The governor insisted that he should reside it the governors palace as he was aware of miraculous deeds performed by him in Italy but Francis preferred to reside in the "Hospital Real" and care of the sick and lepers in the Hospital de S. Lazaro. It was from there that he started his missionary actives.

He was disgusted with the functioning of the administration The Portuguese rulers wallowed in immorality, greed and usury, social injustice luxury and licentiousness of the merchants, soldiers and so called "Fidalgos" added to the general moral degradation. male and female slaver were being sold at suction in marked place the women were being exploited for sensual purpose. There was no regard for spiritual values at all. He would say Mass, take care of lepers, visit inmates of the prisons , he used to go begging for his favorites the "the poor, sick, lepers and prisoners" wherever he used to go people used to flock around him. and after a stay of 5 months and 10 days he left Goa for Cape Comorin, when he returned to Goa after 18 months and took up his residence at the Colegio ded. S. Paulo at old Goa.

On his return to Goa he wrote the the king of Portugal informing him abut the misdeeds of the governor and his administration and demanded his removal which was granted as his request and the King of Portugal ordered the setting up of special school attached to the churches in all the villages of Goa

Not satisfied with the spreading the faith in Goa and the others coast of India his missionary sea led him to conquer more kingdoms for Christ. he envisaged the evangelization of China and Japan. Undaunted by his strenuous missionary worked in Goa for about 9 years and after laying the foundation of the expansion for Christianly. Francis left of Japan where he was well received and preached the catholic faith. it was his ardent desire to preach the gospel in china and harvest should for Christ but god willed otherwise.

Worked the rigors of life of prayers, penance and hard work Francis was sized with fever on the island Sancian, on his way to China which he never reached. Francis was dying with a lighted candle in his hands and with the name of Jesus on his lips, Francis rendered his soul to his creator and lord. His indomitable spirit which could no longer be caged in his frail mortal frame, left it and winged its flight to meet this lord and master on Dec 2, 1552.

After his death, Francis was put in a Chinese style coffin and his body was covered in two layers of line to accelerate the process of decomposition so that his bones could be taken to Goa when the ship set sail.

Two months late while the ship was on its way to Malacca the body was exhumed and when the lime was removed it was found intact an as fresh as it was buried. the body was then taken to Malacca where it was buried a second time. five months late it was exhumed an found incorrupt. it was put on a board S. Ana en route to Goa but on reaching a place near baticola the boat could not proceed for reasons unknown. the news reached Goa and the governor sent another boat the Santa Crux with priests and dignitaries and bought the body to Goa. They anchored at Ribandar and the body was taken to the church where it remained for the night.

The next day it was taken to old Goa amidst great rejoicing. It is said that en route the bells pealed merrily of their own and cannons fired shots from all the forts mysteriously. the body was kept in the church of S. Paulo for 3 days for public veneration. This was the first public exposition of his body of the saint.

It was at this exposition that a Portuguese lady D. Isabel Crom in her desire to have a relic of the saint bit off the little toe of the Saint. she however returned it to the Jesuits when she felt her end was near.

 
1 10th Feb 1782 to 12th Feb 1782
2 3rd Dec 1859 to 8th Jan 1860
3 3rd Dec 1878 to 8th Jan 1879
4 3rd Dec 1890 to 8th Jan 1891
5 7th Dec to 10th Dec 1900
6 26th Nov to 28th Dec1910
7 3rd Dec 1922 to 10th Jan 1923
8 3rd Dec 1931 to 10th Jan 1932
9 6th May 1942 to 17th May 1942
10 13th Dec 1952 to 6th Jan 1953
11 14th Dec 1961 to 31st Dec 1961
12 24th Nov 1964 to 6th Jan 1965
13 23rd Nov 1974 to 5th Jan 1975
14 21st Nov 1984 to 13th Jan 1985
15 21st Nov 1994 to 6th Jan 1995
16 21st Nov 2004 to 2nd Jan 2005

 

The church was slow to acknowledge it him as a saint, requiring a medical examination to establish that the body has not be embalmed. It was performed, in 1556, by the viceroys physician, who declared at all the internal organs were still intact an that no preservative agents had been used. He noticed a small wound in the chest an asked two Jesuits to put their finger into it, and noted, when they withdrew them, they were covered with the blood. It was said to be absolutely untainted" it was not until 1622 that canonization took place, by then, the holy relic hunters had started work on the incorrupt body in 1614 the right arm was removed and divided between the Jesuits in Japan an Rome and 1636 parts of one shoulder blade and all then internal organs had been scattered through South-East Asia, by the end of the 17th century the body was in an advanced state of desiccation and the miracle appeared to be over.

There have been several exposition of the body after both private and public. The former have been at the request of visiting royalty and dignitaries. The Jesuits now enclose the corpse in a glass coffin out of view and it was not until the 19th century that the current cycle of 10 yearly expositions began.

The body of St. Francis has undergone changes and can no longer be called incorrupt. During the exposition in 1974 Msgr. Raul Gonsalves the then Apostolic administrator held a press conference at bishops house and the following statement was disbursed " We cannot talk presently about and incorrupt body but only of sacred relics of the saint"

In commemoration of the fourth centenary of the death of St. Francis Xavier and in recognition of the work done by his successors in the missionary field Pope Pius XII is August 1953 conferred on the Arch diocese of Goa the Rosa d'oorro (Golden Rose). This way the most ancient and ennobling distinction of the catholic. it has a height of 94 cms and the entire gift consisting of metals and precious stoned weigh 40 Kgs. it was insured for $25000.

St. Francis was a great missionary of the 16th Century conditioned by his time, culture, temperament theological formation and spirituality. In today's materialistic and hedonistic culture and consumerist society., Francis Xavier has a special attraction for the youth, the young people appreciate what is authentic and real, whenever calls for self sacrifice, freedom justice , fraternity, love, service and peace are not mere empty words for them the are potent concept which, when translate into action, give meaning to fie and urge youth to make important decision involving sacrifice. St. Francis Xavier is considered not only as a patron of Goa but also as the protector to all the Goan's.

St. Francis Xavier, Old Goa

Devotees and tourists offer prayers at the relics of the St. Francis Xavier

St. Francis Xavier, Old Goa

The relics of St. Francis Xavier

St. Francis Xavier, Old Goa

The sacred relics of St. Francis Xavier during the exposition

 

 

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