All roads led to Old Goa as people of all walks of life, dressed in their best attire, celebrated the feast of Goa’s patron saint, St Francis Xavier. With masses beginning as early as 4 a.m., Goans and pilgrims from various states were up and awake, to bring in the feast of the ‘Goencho Saib’.
The high mass was celebrated by bishop of Mangaluru, Peter Paul Saldanha. He was joined by the Archbishop of Goa and Daman, Filipe Neri Ferrao and other members of the clergy who concelebrated the mass at 10:30 a.m.
The sermon was based on the theme ‘Rooted in Christ like St Francis Xavier, go and do likewise’ and highlighted the devout life led by St Francis Xavier. “We are called to be disciples of Christ and only then can we be called ‘missionaries’. However, we have to be thorough with the Bible and prayers,” he said.
The bishop further urged Catholics to follow in the footsteps of the saint. “Reflecting on the tenacity of St Francis Xavier who used the most ordinary instruments like the ‘Our Father’, ‘The Creed’, and ‘The Commandments’; people were healed even through the intercession of children who believed in the power of prayer,” he said, adding that St Francis Xavier had no other power than what is given to all of us. “The words have power, and he used that power to change life. We become free in life when we follow the prayers and love in accordance to what is told to us through these prayers,” he concluded.
The choir, too, lent their melodious voices to the solemn service in tune with the theme of the day.
Following the mass, devotees made their way to the fair to browse through the various stalls and make purchases of sweets, grams, toys, etc.
It is also usual to find wax vendors selling wax moulds of various parts of the body, as it is believed that offering a wax replica of a body part in faith will cure the ailing part.