St.Francis Xavier, the patron saint of Goa, affectionately called as Goencho saiba or Lord of Goa died in 1552 on his way to China. The body brought in 1554 to Goa, is kept in the Basilica of Bom Jesus. The sacred relic of St.Francis Xavier normally housed in a silver casket in the Bom Jesus Basilica, is brought in a ceremonious procession by several priests to the SE cathedral every 10 years for an exposition.
"Nisi credideritis, non intelligetis" - (from the Book of Isaiah 7:9 as quoted by St Augustine) - when translated into English from Latin means - Unless you believe, you will not understand. Faith forms the core basis for a religion, which perhaps explains why millions of pilgrims flock to Old Goa for this occasion every decade. The last exposition - 17th exposition, was in 2014 where the exposition started on 22nd November and continued till the 4th of January 2015. This time of the Exposition, at least about 6600 people witnessed the exposition everyday and in the 43 days at least 250,000 people witnessed the Venerable Holy Relic.
St.Francis Xavier who was born in Spain in 1506 to a noble family, was influenced by Saint Ignatious Loyola. Ignatious Loyola who started the Society of Jesus, recruited Francis Xavier into this order.
St.Francis Xavier who landed in Goa during 1542 specifically to stem the rot amongst the faithful, in a short period of time caused a major awakening. He was instrumental in building many churches and institutions in Goa and elsewhere. He travelled across Malacca, China and Japan.
Many miracles have been attributed St.Francis Xavier. He, considered as the patron of all the missions of the Catholic Church, had possessed the gift of the tongues and his miracles included healing the sick and raising the dead. Saint Francis Xavier was declared as the 'Patron of Catholic Missions' by the Pope Pius XI. But his real miracle is the miracle of his astounding personality - the legacy he had left behind.
St.Francis Xavier, the indomitable traveler spread the message of Jesus through out India, Japan and China. Saint Francis Xavier traveled extensively and as he was adept in many local languages, could easily spread the Gospel. He had covered most of the present day minor Basilicas in Southern India on foot. He died in the Chinese Sancian island on his way to Malacca in 1552 at the age of 46. His body, which is miraculously preserved for centuries despite repeated burials and exhumation, even after subjected to being buried under a pile of lime in the earlier burial time, is kept in a Silver Casket atop a richly carved wooden mausoleum in Bom Jesus Basilica. The Basilica's walls are adorned with numerous carvings in wood and the pillars, friezes and arabesques gilded with gold.
While on a short visit to South India, Saint Francis Xavier spread the message of God to the fishermen, known as Paravars near Cape Comorin. He used a bell to announce his arrival to the area thereby earning the epithet 'Maniyadi Samiar' meaning the 'hermit who rings the bell' in Tamil. While he stayed there for about 3 years, often he earned the wrath of the local Kings who despised his preachings. Once a local king sent a unit of soldiers to kill the saint. The soldiers when confronting the Saint saw tall giant like men clothed in white tunic which scared the soldiers who ran away. When Saint Francis Xavier was asked how he managed to spook the soldiers who came to harm him, he was surprised and mentioned that he was all alone standing there. With St.Francis Xavier, miracles have become a way of Life for him during his short life and even after.
He had converted thousands and won their passionate devotions in a short span of 10 years. His devotion to the service of God, his all consuming passion and his frugal life style won him devoted followers wherever he went. He was beatified by Pope Paul V in 1619 and canonized together with St Ignatius by Pope Gregory XV, on March 12th, 1622.
Churches in Old Goa: The landscape of Old Goa is dotted with many magnificent churches built several centuries ago, some of them crumbling now. It was a rich commercial city and the capital of Portuguese India in 1510 AD. It was addressed as Golden Goa and 'Rome of the East' or 'Queen of the East'. The city at its peak was the pinnacle of glory and boasted of the first printing press in Asia. Old Goa was abandoned sometime in the 18th Century owing to several reasons - epidemic, changes in climate and politics.
This SE cathedral is the largest in Asia and was built to show case the grandiose wealth, power and fame of the Portuguese by the Portuguese Viceroy Redondo. The church construction was started in 1564 and it took 80 years to complete for consecration.
The structure is oblong on the plan, but the interior is shaped like a cruciform whereas the exterior is Tuscan. The interior is of Corinthian style of architecture. The belfry on the southern side of the facade has a Golden Bell which can be heard all over Goa. This church has six altars and nine chapels:
Chapel of Our Lady of Virtues
Chapel of St.Sebastian
Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament
Chapel of Our Lady of Life
Chapel of St.Solcures
Chapel of the Holy Spirit
Chapel of The Cross of Miracles
Chapel of St.Bernard
Chapel of St.Anthony
Altar of Our Lady of Sorrows
Altar of Our Lady of 3 Necessities
Altar of Our Lady of Hope
Altar of St.Peter
Altar of St.Anne
The main altar is dedicated to St.Catherine. The gilded panels describe the martyrdom of the saint. On either side there are wooden statues for St.Paul and St.Peter.Close by is another ancient church - Church of St. Cajitan built around 1651 - modelled after St.Peter's Basilica in Vatican.