Goa wants Pope for St. Francis Xavier’s exposition

June 3, 2014 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

St. Francis Xavier's expositionPanaji, June 1, 2014: Goa, where Catholics comprise nearly 30 percent of the state’s 1.4 million people, wants to invite Pope Francis to the exposition of Spanish saint Francis Xavier, scheduled to be held later this year.

The external affairs ministry would be requested to invite Pope Francis for the exposition, union Minister of State for Tourism Shripad Naik, elected from Goa, said Saturday.

“If the Church makes the request to invite the Pope to Goa, we will help speed up the process with the external affairs ministry,” Naik said.

Every 10 years, the remains of the missionary saint, also called the “Patron Saint of Goa”, are lowered from the silver casket in which they are permanently stored, for viewing by the faithful.

Earlier, the body was on permanent display. However, after church authorities noticed deterioration of the corpse they decided to have it viewed only once every 10 years.

St. Francis Xavier, who hailed from Navarra in Spain, was sent by the then Pope as an apostolic nuncio (ecclesiastical diplomat) in 1541 at the request of the king of Portugal, after explorers led by Afonso de Albuquerque captured the city of Goa.

He was also responsible for initiating the process for the Spanish Inquisition in Goa, which saw tenets of Christianity imposed by force and violence on Goan subjects.

After his death in 1552 in Shanchuan, China, his body was first ferried to Malacca in Portugal. In 1637, it was placed in the newly-built Basilica of Bom Jesus, built by the Jesuits in Goa.

Believers regard it as a miracle that the body has survived for nearly 500 years, while sceptics argue that the mortal remains of the saint have been embalmed which has ensured its survival.

A festival is held every year Dec 3, with nearly a million believers paying homage, some even walking hundreds of kilometres to the church complex in Old Goa.

– ians

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