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St Francis Xavier Feast

From November 23rd to December 3 during the novenas which culminates in the feast of St Francis Xavier thousands of devotees and pilgrims visit the old city of Goa which during the 16th and 17th century was one of the most beautiful and majestic of cities in the world.

Francis Xavier was born on April 7th 1506 in Navarre in Spain of wealthy and aristocratic Parents. He sailed to India as the papal nuncio. On the Arrival in Goa on May6th 1541 he immediately began to preach and was successful in making converts. To help him spread the word of God he published a catechism in Portuguese which incidentally is one of the earliest book published in the Jesuit press in Goa in the 16th century. Besides his preaching and conversions he is well known for the thousands of miracles he performed. In fact his dead body is one of the many miracles. Soon after he died his body was placed in a wooden coffin packed with in lime to hasten the disintegration of the flesh.

The body was received in Goa on March 16th 1554 from Malacca which would be his final resting place. A well known story is that of Dona Isabel de Caron who is said to have bitten off the toe of Xavier to prove if his body was incorruptible. The coffin of St Francis Xavier is enshrined in a silver tomb which is to the right as one enters the basilica. It is installed on a marble Pedestal.

The body is exposed to the public for veneration every ten years. Thousands flock to venerate the Apostle of Indies. Xavier is proclaimed as GOENCHO SAIB and no religious litany in Goa ends without singing a hymn in his honor.

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