St. Francis Xavier


When General Joao Carlos Craveiro Lopes arrived in Goa as the new Governor he expressed his desire to begin his administration with the exposition of the Saint for his blessings. The See was vacant at that time and D. Jose Bento Martins Ribeiro, Bishop of Cochin was the administrator. This idea was, acceptable to him. But due to some reasons the exposition could be held only in 1931 from December 3, 1931, to January 10, 1932, when D. Teotonio Manuel Ribeiro Vieira de Castro was the new Archbishop Patriarch.

On 10.2.1931, the coffin was removed from the silver casket and taken to the sacristy in the presence of the Archbishop Patriarch, Governor General and the Cathedral Chapter. The renovation work of Bom Jesus Church costing about Rs. 40,000.00 was in progress.

The body was examined on February 26, 1931, at 4.00 p.m. by Dr. Wolfango da Silva in the presence of the Archbishop Patriarch, Governor and the Cathedral Chapter. The body was in priestly vestments with the staff at the side. Dr. Wolfango da Silva declared that there were no changes in the body since the last exposition and the Patriarch announced that the body would be exposed in a crystal glass case in December.

The postal authorities released stamps in remembrance of this exposition and a big shed was put up for the pilgrims since the "casa (house) de peregrinos" attached to the Bom Jesus Convent could not provide accommodation to all.

The Archeological Commission placed one inscription in the Church of Nossa Senhora do Rosario (Deste sitio assitiu Afonso de Albuquerque a reconquista de Goa) another in the chapel of Nossa Senhora do Monte (Aqui postou-se a artilharia maomentana contra Afonso de Albuquerque para retomar Goa em Maio de 1510) and in chapel of S. Catarina (Porta da mural da cidade maomentana.)

The Convent of St. Francis de Assis was reserved for the Apostolic Delegate and his entourage, and the Patriarchal Palace for the Prelates. The Convent of S. Monica where one private restaurant had been set up, was reserved for the priests, the Convent of S. Caetano for foreign priests and the Convent of St. Joao de Deus for lay persons.

The Vespers were held on December 12 at 6.00 p.m. with the Apostolic Delegate Leo Peter Kierkels as the presiding priest.

On December 3, the "magna" procession from Se Catedral to Bom Jesus was magnificent with 400 priests and a large number of faithful and the following prelates: D. Antonio Maria Teixeira -Bishop of Meliapor, Msgr. Ferdinand Perier, s.j. - Archbishop of Calcutta, Mar Ivanios - Archbishop of Betania, Mar Teofilos -Bishop of Tiruvalla, Msgr. Alexander Chulaparambil - Bishop of Kottayam, Msgr. Tiburtius Roche s.j. - Bishop of Tuticorim, Msgr. Lawrence Pereira- Bishop of Kottar Msgr. Pius, O.C. - Bishop of Ajmer, Msgr. William Bouter - Bishop of Nellore, Msgr. John Alphred Guyomar, OMI Bishop of Jaffna, Msgr. James Kalacherry - Bishop of Changanacherry & Msgr. Bonaventure OCD - Bishop of Vijaypuram, besides the Archbishop Patriarch Teotonio Vieira de Castro and Apostolic Delegate Msgr. Leo Kierkels. The Governor and his top officials were awaiting the procession at the door of Basilica of Bom Jesus. At this time, the Patriarch handed over the historic staff of the saint (which was earlier in the coffin) to the Governor. This staff was gifted by King D. Pedro II to S. Francis Xavier when he appointed Xavier "defender of India, East and Portuguese Africa by Royal letter dated 21.3.1699". It has a gold medallion with a sculpture of this King. This staff has 163 emeralds, one of them being a large one. The lower part is of gold with 31 emeralds.

The silver casket had been transferred to the transept of Bom Jesus on December 2. Before the transference, the coffin was opened privately and the covering cloth (manta) over the body of the Saint was substituted with a new one embroidered in gold and offered D. Joana Navigne Temudo de Vera.

The coffin was taken from the sacristy to the platform in Bom Jesus on the shoulders of Archbishops of Calcutta and Betania and Bishop of Kottayam, Changanacherry, Tuticorin and Jaffna D Antonio Maria Teixeira, Bishop of Cochin, preached.

The Eucharistic Congress which was held on this occasion was inaugurated on December 4. Around 5 lakh persons kissed the body of the Saint, among whom we can mention Msgr. Henrico Doerings s.j. - Bishop of Poona, Msgr. Dionisius Vismara - Bishop of Hyderabad and Most Rev. Belgeri - Secretary of Apostolic Delegation to East Indies, Shri Indumati Rani Saheb - Maharani of Kolhapur and Maharaja of Udar.

The exposition was extended by seven days and was closed on January 10, 1932. Before the closing, on 9.1.1932 at 2.00 p.m. the body was examined by the following doctors: Alberto Carlos Germano da Silva Correia - Acting Director of Health Services, Jose Camilo Aires da Conceicao e Sa - Lecturer in the Medical School, Joao Manuel Pacheco de Figueiredo - retired lecturer of the same school, Domingos Roque de Sousa - substitute lecturer of the same school and Arminio Ribeiro de Santana - Health officer of Ilhas.
The final closing ceremony was held on March 19, 1932, at 6.00 p.m. Inspite of secrecy, 300 persons kissed the body of the saint.

1. This exposition was held in remembrance of the following events:
The 4th centenary of the arrival of St. Francis Xavier (6.5.1542);
2. The episcopal Jubilee of His Holiness reigning Pope Pius XII on May13;
3. The Jubilee of Apparition of Our Lady of Fatima.

During this year, the 4th Patriarch D. Jose da Costa Nunes had assumed the reins of the Archdiocese. Since the exposition was held during the 2nd World War, it was marked by simplicity, as compared to previous expositions.

The Pastoral letter announcing the exposition was issued on March 25, 1942. The exposition would begin on May 6 and would end on May 13. The body could be viewed through glass case.

On April 30, 1942, at 5.00 p.m., the coffin was removed from the silver casket and taken to sacristy. After verifying the seals, the coffin was opened with three keys, as usual, in the presence of the Patriarch Costa Nunes, Governor General Jose Cabral and members of Cathedral Chapter, Dr. Froilano de Melo - Director of Health Services, some priests and other invitees. A large number of devotees was also gathered who were given the opportunity to kiss the "Sacred relics". The Saint was found dressed in priestly vestments with an emerald studded staff on the right side and a medallion with the inscription "Petrus Rex Portugaliae". Thereupon, Dr. Froilano de Melo examined the body and found it to be in a good condition, as it was found last time.

The silver casket was brought to the transept of Bom Jesus on May 5, and placed on a majestic platform under a rich canopy. The inaugural ceremony was held on May 6.

This exposition was extended upto May 17. Msgr. Francisco da Piedade Rebelo, Secretary of the Patriarcado issued an official announcement mentioning that many requests had been received to allow the devotees to kiss the feet of the Saint directly and this permission was granted.

The closing ceremony was held on May 17. On this day, the Governor returned the staff that was given to him on April 30 and it was placed n the coffin, on the right side. On May 18, the coffin was locked with three keys and placed on the altar of the sacristy. Thereafter, it was taken to the chapel of the Saint and placed inside the silver casket.

The total sum received from donations amounted to Rs. 8,000.00.

On May 6, Canon Francisco Xavier de Costa, Administrator of the Convent of S. Francis of Assisi, celebrated a solemn Mass in the Church of St. Francis of Assisi to mark the arrival of the Saint on 6.5.1942 and his interview with the first Bishop of India, D. Joao de Albuquerque.

On January 22, 1950, the coffin was opened privately, in order to enable His Eminence Cardinal Gilroy - Archbishop of Sidney and Papal Legate to the 1st Plenary Council of India, to kiss the Sacred Relics. This decision was taken by Patriarch D. Jose de Costa Nunes with the consent of Governor General Quintanilha de Mendonca e Dias. Cardinal Gilroy was accompanied by Msgr. Valerian Gracias, Auxiliary Bishop of Bombay.

The coffin was opened with three keys - of Patriarch, of Governor and Rector of Basilica in the presence of Patriarch, Cardinal, Governor and Msgr. Valerian Gracias. Inspite of the private opening, a large number of devotees were gathered and they were allowed to kiss the secret relics. Thereafter the coffin was locked and placed in the silver casket.

This exposition was held to mark the 4th centenary of death of St. Francis Xavier. The Patriarch Dom Jose Costa Nunes issued a pastoral letter on February 15, 1952 announcing the exposition. In this letter, he writes that "it was rumoured - without the slightest foundation that the venerable relics had been taken away from Goa and even unbelievers were impressed and unmistakenly roused."

The preparatory works started in 1948. The renovation work of Convents & Churches was started in 1951. The Central Government had appointed arquitect Baltasar de Castro for this purpose. The Chapel of S. Catarina was completely renovated as well as the Convent of S. Francis of Assisi and other buildings. Some of the pillars of the former Convent of S. Domingos that were in front of S. Francis of Assisi and were creating an impression of ruins in front of this Church were reduced to road metal and used for asphalting the pavements.

The statue of the pagan King that was at the feet of S. Catarina on the main altar, was also removed in such a way that one will not notice that there was a statue at the feet of S. Catarina.

Two large sized statues of S. Peter & S. Paul that were covering the sculptures of the Apostles and Popes at the base of the main altar were also removed and placed in niches of lateral walls.

The prices of essential commodities were controlled; three commemorative stamps were released on December 23, 1952, as well as post cards. The artwork for the stamps was done by Manuel Lapa. One was depicting the statue of the saint; the other, the reliquary with his arm and the third, the silver casket.

The Cardinal Legate a latere for this exposition was D. Manuel Gonsalves Cerejeira - Patriarch of Lisbon, who left Portugal on November 8, 1952. The priests went to receive him at the dock in black cassocks and surplice. He stayed in the Patriarchal Palace. The other Prelates stayed in the Archiepiscopal Palace and the priests in the Convent of St. Francis of Assisi and the pilgrims in the Convent of S. Caetano. The Casa Professa de Bom Jesus was reserved for Jesuits. The supply of food for the Prelates was done by Tosa & Co., that was running a private restaurant in the Archiepiscopal Palace.

The inaugural ceremony was held on 3.12.1952. Fifteen days before the exposition the silver casket was brought down and after the removal of the coffin, it was taken to the Se Catedral. On June 23, 1951, the coffin was opened privately in the presence of the Patriarch, Archbishop-Coadjutor, In-charge of the Government - Dr. Manuel Marques Abrantes Amaral, Administrator of Casa, Professa - Msgr. Canon Aires Franklin de Sa, Chancellor of Curia - Msgr. Francisco da Piedade Rebelo. The Body was examined by Dr. Antonio de Sousa Sobrinho - Director of Health Services and Dr. Joao Manuel Pacheco de Figueiredo - Director of Medical School. The coffin was kept in a room of Casa Professa of Bom Jesus. It was for the first time that an exposition was held in Se Catedral. A platform of one metre of height was erected in the transept of Se.

There were no altars around the platform as it was done in 1910 (one altar) and 1922, 1931 and 1942 (4 altars).

Besides Cardinal Cerejeira, Dr. Manuel Caveleiro Ferreira -Minister of Justice of Portugal and D. Antonio Iturmendi Banales - Minister of Justice of Spain, had arrived in Goa for the Exposition.

On December 3, 1952, fifty thousand devotees had gathered in Old Goa alongwith 27 Bishops. The coffin was taken to the Se on the shoulders of Msgr. Valerian Gracias - Archbishop of Bombay, Msgr. Alcurin Von Mittenburg - Archbishop of Karachi, Msgr. Joseph Fernandes - Archbishop of Delhi - Simla, Msgr. Joseph Attipety - Archbishop of Verapoly, Msgr. Lawrence Leo Graner -Archbishop of Dacca and D. Jose Vieira Alvernaz - Archbishop -Coadjutor of Goa and Daman. When the procession reached Se, the coffin was opened with three keys by Cardinal Cerejeira with the key of the Patriarch, by Governor General Paulo Benard Guedes and by the Administrator of Casa Professa, Msgr. Canon Aires Franklin de Sa.
Before the Pontifical Mass, the Patriarch presented the staff of the Saint, to the Governor. This ceremony should have taken place on the day he assumed charge of the office but it had not been possible, on account of preparations for the exposition.

Soon after Gospel, the voice of Pope Pius XII was heard in the Se transmitted by Vatican Radio and retransmitted by Emissora de Goa (Goa Radio) giving a message to all those gathered in Old Goa.

Speaking on this occasion, the Patriarch said that "although the faith of the people is not manifested today as in the past, all those who have faith would rush to the tomb of S. Francis Xavier in a difficult situation and would obtain the favour asked for, just like in the case of Vice Roy Conde de Alvor in 1683."

He reminded that on December 24, 1683, when Goa was attacked by the powerful maratta Shambaji, with a large army, Goa was miraculously free from this invasion when the Vice Roy went to the tomb and prayed and after opening the coffin placed the staff of the Governor in the hand of the saint, for protecting Goa.

The closing ceremony was held on January 6, 1953, at 11.00 a.m. Earlier, the closing ceremony was supposed to be on January 3, 1953 but it was postponed to January 6, 1953. The coffin was locked with three keys and placed on the altar of the sacristy. Thereafter, the silver casket was brought from the Se and the final closing took place when the coffin was placed in the silver casket in the chapel of the Saint.

During this exposition, two priests were consecrated Bishops viz Msgr. Michael Arattuculam - Bishop of Allepey and Msgr. Alexander Edezath - Bishop of Cochin.

The cover (manto) that was placed over the relics of the Saint before the exposition was kept in possession of the Patriarchate and it formed a part of the objects related to the Saint and his relics. A new cover was placed over the relics on the closing day. It had been gifted by Dr. J. Nicolau Sobrinho.

An exhibition of Sacred Art objects was also held. It was inaugurated by Cardinal Cerejeira on 3.12.1952, in the Church of St. Francis of Assisi.

The Directorate of Posts and Telegraphs organized for the first time in Goa a Philatelic Exposition in the Instituto Vasco de Gama presently named as Institute Menezes Braganca.

During this exposition the Chancellor of Curia, Msgr. Francisco da Piedade Rebelo issued a notice to the public regarding some persons who were selling powders and relics of the Saint and warning them to inform the Police. He also added that it was a case of exploitation.

The owner of Villa Xavier in Spain sent on this occasion a message to the Senate of Goa through D. Antonio Iturmendi -Minister of Justice of Spain. "Victorio Aznar, Alcaide de la villa Javier don de esta assentado el castillo em que nascio el Apostol de las lndias, envia at Presidente del Senado de Goa… su mensaje de amistad y de paz". In response, the President of 1st Senate of Goa, Luis dos Santos sent a message to the people of Spain on behalf of people of Goa.

1961 & 1962
The Governor General, Manuel Antonio Vassalo e Silva de-posited his staff at the feet of the Saint, in 1961, praying that Xavier should assume control and Goa should be saved from an attack by Indians, Even the special Advisor to the Military Governor of Goa, G. K. Handoo, attempted something similar when India was attacked by China.

The inaugural ceremony was held on November 24, 1964, and Msgr. James Robert Knox officiated. Msgr. Fortunato da Veiga Coutinho, Bishop of Belgaum, preached during the Pontifical Mass.
The 44 day exposition was closed on January 6, 1964. Around 5,20,000 devotees kissed the body of the Saint. The Central Government sanctioned Rs. 17 lakhs for the renovation of Churches and monuments in Old Goa, specially Basilica of Bom Jesus & Se Catedral.

This exposition was held from November 23, 1974 to January 5, 1975. On November 23, at 9.00 a.m. the coffin was taken from, Basilica to Se Catedral. Cardinal Joseph Parecatil Archbishop of Ernakulam and President of CBCI was the presiding celebrant.

The following were the concelebrants: Msgr. Raul Gonsalves - Apostolic Administrator of Archdiocese of Goa and Daman, Msgr. Arulappa- Archbishop of Hyderabad, Msgr. Pimenta - Auxiliary Bishop of Bombay and Fr. Romualdo de Souza - Provincial of Jesuits of Goa-Pune Province.

This inaugural ceremony was also attended by Lt. Governor Mr. S. K. Banerji and Chief Minister Mrs. Shashikala Kakodkar.

D. Jose Vieira Alvernaz - Archbishop of Goa & Daman and Patriarch of East Indies regretted for being unable, on health grounds to take part in this Exposition.

The theme of the exposition was "Love one another as I have loved you".

The feast was celebrated as usual on December 3. Msgr. Raul Gonsalves - our Apostolic Administrator was the main concelebrant. Msgr. Aroksvamy - Archbishop of Bangalore, Msgr. W. Gomes - Bishop of Poona and Msgr. Denzil de Souza - Bishop of Silchar were the concelebrants.

The closing ceremony was held on January 5, 1975, with the participation of 50,000 devotees. The main concelebrant was Archbishop John Gordon - Apostolic Pronuncio in India. Msgr. Raul Gonsalves - our Apostolic Administrator, Msgr. P. C. Balaswamy.

Bishop of Nellore, Msgr. Ignatius Lobo - Bishop of Belgaum and Msgr. Matias S. Fernandes - Bishop of Mysore were the concelebrants. The sacred relics were carried in a solemn procession to the Basilica of Bom Jesus where they were kept for private veneration in the sacristy for a period of one month.

Around 9,30,765 devotees kissed the sacred relics during the exposition. On January 4, 1975 around 53,223 pilgrims visited Old Goa; this was the highest number recorded during the exposition. An exhibition entitled "Witness 75" was organized in Old Goa, in the Convent of S. Monica, on this occasion.

The income from donations was utilized for setting up a Training cum Production Centre for the Handicapped and to subsidize the publication of Bible in konkani, after meeting all the exposition expenditure.

Msgr. Raul Gonsalves - our Apostolate Administrator held a press conference on this occasion at Bishop's House and a press statement was distributed wherein it was clarified that "we cannot talk presently about an incorrupt body but only of sacred relics of S. Francis Xavier". An aide memories was also circulated regarding the pending conflict between the Archdiocese and Archeological Survey of India regarding the religious monuments of Old Goa.

The following books were published on this occasion: "Old Goa, Rome of the East" by Mariano Dias and edited by Diocesan Committee for the Exposition; "latrekaracho Sangati", edited by Diocesan Committee for the exposition; "Kalljidar", by Fr. A. Pereira and "St. Francis Xavier and Old Goa", by IP. Newman Fernandes.

The theme of this exposition was "Give the World Jesus." It was held from November21 to January 13.

The inaugural Mass, was held on November 21, at 9.30 a.m. with Cardinal Joseph Cordeiro- Archbishop of Karachi as the main concelebrant. Archbishop Raul Gonsalves, Vicar General - Fr. Caetano da Cruz Fernandes, Rector of Basilica - Fr. Vasco do Rego and four more priests flanked the main concelebrant.

There were also five Bishops among the concelebrants namely Msgr. Jose Colaco - retired Bishop of Cabo Verde, Msgr. Gilbert Rego - Bishop of Simla & Chandigarh, Msgr. lgnatius de Souza - Bishop of Baroda, Msgr. Ignatius Lobo - Bishop of Belgaum and Msgr. Alex Dias, s.f.x. Bishop elect of Port Blair.

The following dignitaries also attended this ceremony: Lt. Governor Dr. Gopal Singh & Mrs. Singh, the Chief Minister Mr. Pratap Singh Rane and Mrs. Rane.

Thereafter at 11.00 a.m., the coffin was taken in a solemn procession from Basilica to Se Catedral. During this exposition all Masses were held in a Shamiana erected in front of Basilica except on the feast of Santa Catarina on November 24, when Mass was celebrated in Se.

On December 3, the main concelebrant was Msgr. Ferdinand Fonseca - Auxiliary Bishop of Bombay. The following were the concelebrants: Msgr. Raul Gonsalves - Our Archbishop, Msgr. Simon Pimenta - Archbishop of Bombay, Msgr. Longinus Pereira - Auxiliary Bishop of Bombay, Msgr. Leobard de Souza - Arch-bishop of Nagpur, Msgr. Joe Rosario - Bishop of Amravati, Msgr. Valerian de Souza - Bishop of Pune and Msgr. Ignatius Lobo -Bishop of Belgaum.

The closing ceremony was held on January 13 The coffin was brought in a solemn procession from Se to Basilica and was kept in the Basilica. The Mass was celebrated by Archbishop Blasco Colaco - Papal Nuncio at S. Domingos together with our Arch-bishop Patriarch, Bishops of Mangalore and Bellary and more than 50 priests.

The Chief Minister of Goa Mr. Pratap Singh Rane and Mrs. Rane were also present in the front row of the pandal.

During the 54 days of the Exposition, around 11,29,017 pilgrims kissed the relics of S. Francis Xavier.
A liturgical convention was organized from December 5 to 9. On this occasion, Masses in Roman rite, Syro Malabar rite, Syro Malankara rite, Roman rite adapted to India were celebrated in Old Goa.

The Solemn Exposition of the Relics of St. Francis Xavier was held from November 21, 1994 to January 7, 1995.

The casket was brought down privately on 20th November, at 5.30 p.m. The Solemn Inaugural Pontifical Mass presided by Simon Cardinal Pimenta, Archbishop of Bombay, was held on November 21, at 9.30 a.m. with 4 Bishops and 140 concelebrating priests. It was followed by the solemn procession with the Relics, to the Se Cathedral and inauguration of the Exhibition on the Life of Blessed Fr. Jose Vaz by Cardinal Pimenta. The casket with Sacred Relics was carried by people representing different religious creeds and professions.
The closing ceremony was held on January, 7, 1995.

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