Exposition of St Francis Xavier begins

| 21 November 2004 23:31 IST

The decadal event of exposition of the sacred relics of St Francis Xavier got underway at the Basilica of Bom Jesus in old Goa today amidst tight security today morning.

The event, which would continue for the next 40 days, is considered one of the most important religious and spiritual events for the Christians from all over the world.

The casket containing the saint's relics was brought out of the Basilica in a procession led by priests of different parishes and taken to the St Paul's Cathedral across the road. It will be kept there for veneration.

During the hour-long mass outside the Basilica with religious songs and music by the choir, Archbishop of Goa and Daman Filipe Neri Ferrao said: As the pilgrims in this journey of life, we should create a society of peace and goodwill and lead a life of fellowship.

”The main purpose of the exposition is to help us deepen and invigorate our faith in Jesus. We must practice the virtues of humble service, a caring attitude and a reconciliatory nature which allows us to give and receive forgiveness," he said.

Goa Governor S C Jamir and Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar were among the 10,000 pilgrims who were present on the occasion. Around 30 lakh pilgrims are expected for the event, held every 10 years. It will end on 2 January 2005.

The saint died in 1552 and his body has survived organic decomposition for four and a half centuries. Popularly referred locally as 'Goencho Saib', he walked barefoot, lived a humble life in servant’s quarters and mingled with the laity during the Portuguese rule.

The face of the St Francis is still discernable although the skin has peeled off in certain parts. His body lies straight in the casket while one of his hands with the bony palm rests on the chest. The feet are exposed with the whole body covered in a printed silk cloth. Many still believe the body is still fresh.

The state has made tight security arrangements, with 600-strong para-military forces and six companies of the CRPF are stationed at the venue, in addition to Goa police personnel.

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