Goa (Fides Service) – The general public will be able to view the relics of the great Spanish missionary Saint Francis Xavier at the end of next year 2004 in Goa, India. This was announced with a decree signed by Archbishop Raul Gonsalves which reads: “In keeping with the ancient tradition of a solemn exposition of the relics every ten years, we announce that the relics of the Saint will be exposed from 21 November 2004 to 2 January 2005.”
Father Olavo Pereira, director of Goa’s diocesan Centre for Social Communications says the event will be “an opportunity for spiritual renewal and growth for everyone: a means to obtain from God through the intercession of Saint Francis grace and protection from the many evils which assail us”. God archdiocese will set up a special commission to organise the event and arrange assistance for vast number of pilgrims expected to travel to Goa from all over India as well as other parts of the world.
St Francis arrived on mission in Goa in 1542 and he died on an island near Macao in 1552. The first exposition of the relics was held in 1782 and was repeated every year on 3 December the feast of St Francis Xavier. But the tradition stopped in 1864 for security reasons and was then resumed every ten years. The last, the 15th , took place from 21 November to 7 January 1994. PA (Fides Service 8/9/2003 EM lines 23 Words: 239)