FEAST OF ST FRANCIS XAVIER: Goa’s largest Christian festival, the Feast of St Francis Xavier, takes place on December 3, every year.
People pay homage to the noted Jesuit St Francis Xavier on the day. The missionary saint played an essential role in spreading the influence of Christianity in Portuguese India. The festival is also known as the Goinchea Saibache (Lord of Goa) Fest. The novenas, or the nine-day period of consecutive devotional praying, began on November 24. People throng to the Basilica of Bom Jesus from near and far come to mark the Saint’s death anniversary.
FEAST OF ST. FRANCIS XAVIER: HISTORY AND SIGNIFICANCE
St Francis Xavier was a Catholic missionary. He devoted his life to preaching about Jesus Christ to masses around the world. He went from village to village in Southeastern India, spending most of his time among Paravas, a community of poor pearl fishers.
He later decided to go to China to continue missionary activities. However, he fell sick and died on his way there. Close to four centuries have passed since the venerated saint’s death. However, his remains, kept in the Basilica of Bom Jesus in Old Goa in a silver casket in 1637, are believed to be in good condition even today. They are open for the public to view once every ten years.
FEAST OF ST. FRANCIS XAVIER: CELEBRATION
Every year, on the death anniversary of the saint, Christians from Goa and across the world hold a feast to honour his dedication towards preaching and the social work he undertook in Europe and Asia.
Novena, or a nine-day prayer is held before the day of the feast. This includes multiple ceremonies to respect his passing. This year, the Church is also marking 400 years of Sainthood of St Francis Xavier.
FEAST OF ST. FRANCIS XAVIER: VENUE
The feast is held at the place where the remains of St Francis Xavier are stored- the Basilica of Bom Jesus. The Basilica, which took a decade to build and was completed in 1605, is one of the oldest churches in Goa. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.