St. Francis Xavier
PRIVATE AND PUBLIC EXPOSITIONS OF
THE BODY OF
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
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
The 4th centenary of the arrival of St. Francis Xavier
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.