Friday , 24 May 2019


Exposition Setup Par Excellence

The Government of Goa should be complemented for setting up such magnificent infrastructure at Old Goa for the decennial event of the exposition of the relics of St Francis Xavier, which is a great tourist attraction, drawing visitors from the nook and corner of the world. The overall arrangement is meticulously set up and great pain is taken to oversee the smallest details. The entire path of procession is well sheltered to shield the devotees from the sun. Along this path benches are kept so that the tired people can have a seat and relax for a moment. Security checks are streamlined to ward off any threat from fanatics. Arrangement of mineral drinking water for the thirsty is perhaps the best that anyone can ever imagine. Adequate facilities to answer nature’s call and helpline for people in distress are other noteworthy assets. Vehicular movement has been efficiently diverted to eliminate likelihood of traffic jams. Shuttle service round the clock, to ferry people to the revered site, from the parking area needs special appreciation. The huge pandal erected for the devotees to attend the religious services and the massive seating arrangement to accommodate every individual with ample illumination and fans is worthy of appreciation.  In general one must admit ambiguously that no efforts have been spared to make things simple and comfortable for the tired pilgrims. One thing that needs little stress is that the recessional hymn on the saint requires to be given a rethink. The line ‘besanv ghal saiba desar Goenchea’ seems to be incorrect. It was acceptable during the olden days when Goa was an independent union under the Portuguese rule. Today it is just a state under a country named India. So it is misleading as people sing, seeking the blessings of the saint to bless Goa as a country. It is better to correct ourselves than to continue with the same old reverberation. The word ‘desar’ can be conveniently changed to ‘xarar’, ‘rajyar’ or some other appropriate word referring to Goa as a place or state, instead of a country.



Exposition of Sacred Relics of St Francis Xavier

St Francis Xavier spent some time in Japan. Much before St Francis Xavier traveled to Japan, he studied Japanese people and their religion. As he landed in Japan he learnt their language and summarized Christian doctrine in Japanese language. Latter on, King of Bungo, at Japanese island, appreciated Christian doctrine so much so that abandoned his bonges and favored Francis as well his friends. Whichever mission Francis Xavier  went to he organized the missionary work with great zeal. He was as such, respected as a saintly priest  After this last visit to Goa, to Cochin and Malacca missions, on his way to China he was held up on the island of Sancian due to fever. He was there surrounded by two lone people, the Indian servant Cristovao and a Chinese Antonio de Santa Fe who sensing the life-death situation of Padre Mestre placed a crucifix into the hands of dying Francis Xavier. There was no food, no medicine. Early in the morning of December 3, 1552 Francis Xavier closed his eyes forever in grace of Christ in a very modest hut of branches and mud lumps. The zeal of evangelization and arduous ship journeys had exhausted him and consumed him at the young age of 46. He was buried in Sancian island in a wooden coffin as they used to do in China. Pope Paul VI beatified him and after a careful study of his life and his apostolate, he was canonized by Pope Gregory XV on March 22, 1622. Francis Xavier was however, accepted as a saint in his lifetime itself. He was looked upon as glorious. In those days there was a great craze for relics. Everyone wanted to possess relics which were supposed to be the link between mortals and the supernatural so that several benefits would accrue to the owner of relics. Francis Xavier while living had requested that after his death the remains were to be transferred to Goa where the relics lie to this very day.



St Francis Grant Us a Miracle

The inaugural of the XVII Exposition of the Sacred Relics of St Francis Xavier took place on November 22, 2014. No other Saint of the Catholic faith has such a following in Goa as St. Francis Xavier. He is considered to be the harbinger of good things no matter what. I remember, during the Portuguese times, when we were little children, we used to say to one another: “If Goa is such a peaceful place it’s because of St. Francis Xavier”. But was Goa really peaceful? Hardly did we spare a thought, for instance, for the freedom fighters who suffered immense torture, or, for our own parents and their friends who were the target of the ire of colonial masters for their views against Salazar’s dictatorship. In 1958, when Indian pressure on Goa was mounting, I stayed at Lar dos Estudantes, Altinho, Panjim and Fr Chico Monteiro, who was then the director decided we ought to go on a pilgrimage on foot from Panjim to Old Goa. Why? To pray to the saint that Goa always remains with the Portuguese. On the eve of Liberation as Indian troops massed around Goa’s borders, those who wanted the Portuguese to continue forever in Goa, firmly believed that the Saint would grant a miracle and keep Goa perennially in the hands of the Portuguese. In the end, as we all know, despite incessant prayers, Goa finally became a part of India.On December 19, 1962, the inevitable happened: Liberation. Some call it Conquest, others Invasion. New masters took over. It was a disgrace that successive Governments, one after the other, dragged Goa down a precipice. Greed, land grab, drug mafias, political vendetta became the order of the day. Politicians, in order to rule like emperors, kept Goans as divided as possible. It is a matter of shame that for the first time in 2006 Goa witnessed communal riots. Goa today is almost reduced to an amorphous mass where traffic bottlenecks abound and Mars-like craters sully the roads. Let’s then pray that “Goencho Saib” will  continue to intercede with God that we all remain united in love and good deeds. I believe that the greatest miracle is yet to happen.

Francisco Colaco, Margao