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Feast of St. Francis Xavier

(Last Updated 15 Jan, 2024)

  • Dates :

    03/12/2024 - 03/12/2024

  • Location :

    Basilica of Bom Jesus, Goa

Paying homage to the patron saint of Goa, St Francis Xavier, the feast of St Francis Xavier is one of the best celebrations in the state. The Feast of Saint Francis Xavier will be celebrated on the 3rd December 2024. The Basilica of Bom Jesus house the silver casket that shelters the mortal remains of the saint.

Certainly there can be no better time to plan your trip to Goa. It gives you the superb opportunity to be a part of a religious festival and also be witness to the extravagant carnival.

Description of the Feast of St. Francis Xavier in Goa

St. Francis Xavier, referred to as "Goencho Saib" (Lord of Goa) by Goans, is a worshipped deity. He was one of the first of Jesuit leaders to have stepped in Goa to promote Christianity. The annual feast held on the 3rd of December marks the day he was buried. After nine days of prayer, called the Novena the festival hosts a variety of ceremonies to honor the Saint's death. A Pontifical Mass is executed by a congregation of superior clergy.

Each year Goa gets in the festive mood almost an overnight before the yearly novenas and continues for a month after the festival. On the Feast day the Basilica of Bom Jesus becomes the centre of millions of devotees. St. Francis Xavier is often conjured up by his followers for his curative powers and the feast is the perfect occasion to get blessed.

Of particular note is a miraculous legend of the saint. Even after 400 years of his death, the corpse has not decayed. Even now in its good conditions, the corpse in its silver casket is open for exposition. The last occasion of exposition of St Francis Xavier was in 2014 and falls every 10 years, therefore the next date the casket will be open to worshippers is in 2024.

Dates of the Feast of St Francis Xavier

Though the date that marks the ceremony falls on the 3rd of December every year, believers from all over assemble in Goa from 21st November to 2nd January.

About Saint Francis Xavier

Born in the Basque region of Spain in 1509, Saint Francis Xavier was raised in a community with strong cultural traditions and a unique language that predates the Romance languages. He began his career as a philosophy professor at the University of Paris. Later, Saint Francis was inspired to delve into missionary work in Japan, India, and the East Indies for a decade. Saint Francis Xavier also became one of the founding members of the Society of Jesus.

He opposed slavery and when his friend Saint Ignatius of Loyola insisted, he spread this message. It is believed that he baptized around 10,000 Indians within a month and 40,000 Indians overall. Saint Francis Xavier also helped patients and taught catechism (principles of the Christian religion) to the children of India.

After all the great work he did over the years, he passed away while performing missionary work in China in 1552. In 1622, Pope Gregory V canonized him and declared him patron of all foreign missions. This is why we celebrate the Feast of Saint Francis Xavier on December 3.

The Patronage of St. Francis Xavier

St. Francis Xavier is the patron saint of missions (specifically foreign missions).

  • African missions
  • Diocese of Alexandria
  • Apostleship of Prayer
  • Black missions
  • Foreign missions
  • Diocese of Green Bay Archdiocese of Indianapolis
  • diocese of Joliet, Illinois
  • Missioners of the Precious Blood
  • Navarre, Spain
  • Navigators
  • Parish missions
  • Propagation of the Faith

St. Francis Xavier in Art

Saint Francis Xavier’s missionary work is often portrayed in the form of art with symbols - a staff, a ship, and a globe. The art showcases his travel to preach with various indigenous people.

The images of Saint Francis Xavier are seen holding -

  • A crucifix (signifying the reason for his devoted missions)
  • A lily (denoting his purity)
  • A flaming heart (symbolizing his deep-felt love for God)

Most of this artwork shows him as a young man with a beard, wearing the clerical robes of the Jesuits back in the day.

Things to do at the Feast

  • Learn about an important early Christian teacher or pioneering missionary.
  • Know more about Saint Francis Xavier’s ideas.
  • Pray for the churches in other countries where he traveled to and learn about history.
  • Find out and support the Holy Childhood Association.
  • Teach your kids to pray Saint Francis’ ideal prayer, “Give me souls”.
  • Mediate on Saint Ignatius’s response to Saint Francis before his passing, “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but suffers the loss of his soul?" 
  • Make soup for the Feast of Saint Francis Xavier.
  • See the beautiful artwork that depicts Saint Francis at Olga’s Gallery.

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