feast of saint francis xavier
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Every year on the 3rd of December marks the anniversary of St Francis Xavier’s death where thousands of people gather at the Basilica of Bom Jesus. This annual festival is also known as St Francis Xavier or the Goinchea Saibache (Lord of Goa Festival). People nearby, as well as people from all around the globe, come to participate in the morning mass of this grand event. The Feast of St Xavier is the biggest of all the Christian festivals in Goa.
St. Francis Xavier was one of the first Jesuits who is also regarded by some to be the greatest missionary since the time of the Apostles. He was born on April 7,1506, inside a castle near Sanguesa in the kingdom of Navarre which is a part of Spain presently. Xavier started to devote his life to religious services and apparently became one of the founders of the Jesuit order after getting encouragement and confidence from his friend Ignatius of Loyola. At the age of 19, he moved to Paris in 1525 after completing his studies in Spain, where he got admitted to the Collège de Saint-Barbe.
After completing his studies in Paris, he left the city along with his companions (James Lainez, Alfonso Salmerón, Nicholas Bobadilla, and Simón Rodrigues) and traveled to Venice in 1537 to offer the help for sick in hospitals. In the same year, he went to Rome to prepare the foundation of the Society of Jesus in 1540.
St. Francis Xavier was now appointed by John III, the king of Portugal, to proselytize the people of East Indies. He sailed to India in April 1541 and eventually landed at Goa in May 1542. In the initial days of his arrival in Goa, he spent his five months preaching as well as taking care of the sick. He began preaching Goans and his fellow Europeans too. Within his ten years, he was able to convert many thousands into Christianity.
In July 1547, in Malacca, he met a Japanese man named Anjiro and learned about his country, thereby encouraging him to spread the preaching of Christianity there. During his stay in Japan, he heard much about Chinese and felt it as a great opportunity to spread Christianity there. In April 1552, he left Goa and went to the small island of Sangchuan, off the coast in China, but unfortunately, before reaching the mainland, he became ill and died on the Chinese island on December 3,1552 during his stay in Japan. His body was then brought back to Goa after a few years. In 1637,his body was put into a silver casket made by the Goan silversmiths. There is 32 silverplate set upon the side of his casket, which depicts a different episode of his life. That casket is placed in the Basilica of Bom, where it remains to this day. Once every ten years, there’s a public viewing of his body. The next date to exhibit his body is at 2024. Saint Francis Xavier’s death anniversary is also remembered in the land of his birth, that is, Spain as the Day of Navarra (Día de Navarra).