Devotees in Goa attend feast of Saint Francis Xavier
Old Goa (Goa) [India], Dec.4 (ANI): Hundreds of devotees on Saturday attended the feast mass of Saint Francis Xavier (1506-1552) in Goa state to commemorate his 466th death anniversary.
The nine-day feast started with mass prayers which began as early as 4 a.m.
Goans, irrespective of caste and faith, converged at Basilica of Bom Jesus, which houses St. Xavier's body, in Old Goa.
"For us Goans, it is very special day. (Es)Special(ly) because we, in a certain sense, celebrate the day of our faith as I said and faith is one of the most important things for any human being," said the Secretary General of the Catholic Bishops' Conference Of India, Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas.
Saint Francis Feast is celebrated every year on December 3. The saint was affectionately called Goincho Saib or the Lord of Goa.
Tourists too attended the Mass.
"It is very beautiful, it is very nice. It is very nice, I am enjoying (it)," said a US tourist, Archery. "First time in the church, yes, not the first time to India but the first time to Goa," Archery added when asked if it was her first visit to Basilica of Bom Jesus.
Saint Xavier was born in Spain in 1506 and devoted his life to religion and the service of the poor and the downtrodden. He first arrived in Goa, then a Portuguese colony, in 1542. He travelled throughout Asia, founding Christian communities in southern Japan and parts of what are now Indonesia and Malaysia.
Two years after Saint Xavier's death in 1552 near China, his body was brought back to Goa. It is believed that when his body was exhumed, it was remarkably intact. In 1614, one of his arms was severed and taken to Rome where it is preserved at the altar of the Church of Gesu. Priests say the body, which the faithful credit with many miracles, has never been embalmed. His efforts earned him the appellation "Apostle to the Indies", and he was canonised in 1622. (ANI)