Reverend Religious Relics Body of St. Francis Xavier

About the body of St. Francis Xavier a sacred and reverend religious relic in Church history.



When he died on the island of Shang-Ch'uan (or Sancian) during a Jesuit proselytizing mission to China in 1552, Francis Xavier was packed in lime and shipped to the Portuguese cathedral at Goa on India's west coast. There he was buried, but the Jesuits later exhumed the body and cut off the saint's right arm, which they sent to the pope. The remainder of Xavier's body they placed in a gold and glass case in the Goa cathedral, where it is displayed to the public once every 10 years. More than four centuries later, the body is in amazingly good shape, with much of the saint's red hair still in place, although the body itself is severely shrunken and the skull has become visible. Xavier's arm, long an important relic at the Vatican, went on a world tour in 1949. Starting in Japan at the request of Gen. Douglas MacArthur-who thought that bringing in an object of Christian veneration might dissuade the Japanese masses from joining the Communist party-the saint's arm traveled throughout Europe, stopping in Ireland before making its way to the U.S. The relic attracted so much attention that in 1965 it took Vatican insistence to prevent Xavier's arm from being placed on display at a New Jersey department store.

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