|Glimpses of Goa||.|
Glimpses of Goa -III
by Dr. Jyotsna Kamat
St Francis Xavier (1506-1552 C.E.)
The body of St. Francis Xavier which is kept in a ornamented silver coffin in the Church of Bom Jesus is attracting devout Roman Catholics of the world for the past five hundred and fifty years. This priest who came in contact of Ignatius Loyola, founder of Society of Jesus risked all dangers, hazardous journeys and harsh climates, and set for eastern countries with the sole purpose of spreading the message of Christ.
Francisco de Xavier Y. Jassu, who later came to be known as St Francis Xavier was born in Navarre Spain in 1506 of noble parentage. He had strong religious bent of mind and entered the church at an early age. He set out for East in April 1541 from Lisbon, Portugal, in the small fleet that carried the new governor of Goa. They reached Goa in May 1542, after more that a year's hard journey. Francis was thirty-five years of age.
With Goa as base, he traveled a lot. He converted several people of Parava and Mukkuvar community in Mylapore and eastern coast. Later he went to Malacca and after learning Malay the local language, preached Christian faith in that tongue. He then went to Japan and sought the Emperor's permission to preach his religion. It was granted. But he faced lot of opposition from locals. He was disappointed and boarded a ship bound for Goa, but fell ill. He got off at the island of Sancian off China coast. Without medical aid forthcoming, he died of severe fever praying God till end. He was 46 (year1552).
His body buried at Sancian was later taken to Malacca, where he had acquired good following. After several months, a respectable burial was thought of. When the grave was opened the body was sill fresh and life-like. Everybody agreed it was a miracle.
The body then was brought to Goa and transferred to the church of Bom Jesus after its construction. His canonization took place in 1622C.E. Now it is in the epistle of the same church where an artistic mausoleum is built for the silver coffin.
Earlier the body was exposed for public view on his every death anniversary. But several mutilations took place over centuries. Part of the knee fell while transporting the body, from Malacca, then one of the toes was bitten by a Portuguese lady in religious frenzy and taken as relic. Portion of the arm fell and taken to Rome. Part of the right arm was sent to Jesuit province of Japan. For many years the exposition was stopped. Now after 1891 there has been regular exposition for every ten years.
The body of the saint laid in in silver casket, draws innumerable visitors and faithful throughout the year.
The paintings of dying saint with cross in hand amidst the island and his shipon Sea near by, surrounded by native attendants is very touching and beautiful.
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