OLD GOA: Thousands of devotees are flocking to Old Goa daily to participate in the novena services in preparation for the feast of St Francis Xavier which will be held on December 4.
Lakhs of devotees are expected to throng the churches to celebrate the annual feast and seek blessings of the patron saint of Goa, Father Joe Monteiro said. For novenas, pilgrims come from all over the state as well as from Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala besides foreigners.
Church authorities have made provision of masses in different languages including in French, Portuguese and Spanish besides in Hindi, Kannada, Telugu, Tamil and Konkani.
This year, the church authorities expect the number of pilgrims from Karnataka and Maharashtra to go up. Pilgrims from Kolhapur, Sindhudurg, and Belgaum districts will reach Old Goa on foot on December 3 after walking for days continuously.
The main celebrant for the feast is Bishop Gerald Lobo while Archbishop of Goa and Daman Filipe Neri Ferrao and Rector Fr Patricio will also be present. The feast is being celebrated since the body of the saint was brought to the state in 1554.
On Tuesday, there was mass in French which was conducted by Fr Varun, while masses in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, and Malayalam will be conducted on Sunday on which day, 12 masses will be conducted.
Mass in Italian is on Friday, in Portuguese on Saturday at 11.30 am and in Marathi on Saturday at 12.30 pm while in Kannada on Sunday at 11.30 am and mass is also slated at 12.30 pm on December 3. Everyday mass is being celebrated by various diocesan commissions like Bible Apostolate, Liturgy Apostolate, Youth Apostolate, and Social Apostolate.
The theme of this year is St Francis Xavier – ‘The Love of Christ urges us.’ Confessions are held everyday for the benefit of devotees. A number of senior citizens are staying in the camps put up.
During the feast days, thousands of people flock to Old Goa churches to venerate the sacred relics of the Saint. Pilgrims also arrive from as far as Spain, France, Italy and Portugal beside other nations.