Feast of St. Francis Xavier
The Feast of St. Francis Xavier is a time-honoured feast that is primarily celebrated in Goa. St. Francis Xavier is considered the patron Saint of Goa and is popularly called Goencho Saib or the Lord of Goa. The feast honours him and his influence on the advent of Christianity in the State of Goa. It commemorates his service and dedication to Jesus Christ. It also holds a torch to the social work that he spearheaded throughout Asia and Europe. The date of the feast, the 3rd of December, coincides with the day of the Saint’s burial.
Today, the Basilica of Bom Jesus in Goa houses the relics of St. Francis Xavier and is recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. It is an important part of the feast and serves as a fitting pilgrimage centre to the Goans and Christians around the country and the world.
Origin, History, and Significance of the Feast of St. Francis Xavier
The Feast of St. Francis Xavier holds a torch to the contributions of St. Francis Xavier in the spread of Christianity in Goa, as well as his humanitarian work. Born on the 7th of April 1506, St. Francis Xavier was one of the first seven Jesuits who took a vow of poverty and chastity. He led the extensive mission of evangelization across Asia, prominently in the then Portuguese Empire in India. He is today regarded as one of the most successful missionaries of his time.
On one of his travels to China, he died from a fever at Shangchuan island on the 3rd of December, 1552. He was initially buried on the island before his body was moved to Malacca in February 1553.
After his temporary burial in Malacca, Portugal, his body was moved to Goa in 1553. Today, it sits in a glass container with a beautifully crafted silver enclosure in the Basilica of Bom Jesus church in Goa. Every 10 years his incorrupt mortal remains are displayed to the public for about six weeks. The last time this was done was in 2014.
St. Francis Xavier is remembered and celebrated by his followers even today, and the St. Xavier feast is a fitting commemoration of his reach and influence on the culture of the state.
The 3rd of December is celebrated as the Day of Navarre in Navarre, Spain to mark the anniversary of his death. St. Francis Xavier is the co-patron saint of Navarre, along with Fermin.
When is the St. Xavier Feast Celebrated?
While the main day of the feast is the 3rd of December, festivities in Goa may begin as early as towards the end of November. This day marks the day on which the Saint succumbed to a fever. Today, the feast is an indication of his life and contributions to the world, especially in Asia and Europe.
How is the Feast of St. Francis Xavier Celebrated and Where to Go?
St. Francis Xavier Feast day is celebrated in the coastal state of Goa with great pomp. If you want to experience the true spirit of the feast, head over to the Basilica of Bom Jesus in Goa to witness the feast in all its glory.
A popular travel destination, Goa, is quite vibrant on a regular day. The festivities and dynamics of Goa during the St. Xavier feast can even dampen its usual vibrancy. With thousands of people flocking to the state to pay their respects to the Saint, you’ll see decorated streets, street fairs, and more. The festive atmosphere and the spirit of the people bring the whole state alive. The feast marks the beginning of the holiday season in the state and is celebrated fittingly.
Old Goa sees many followers of the Saint during the St. Francis Xavier Feast day. People from distant states in India and around the world, visit Old Goa to be a part of the prayers and the feast.
The Basilica of Bom Jesus is on the Old Goa Road in Bainguinim, Goa. There are no interstate buses that take you there directly. But one of the best and most affordable ways to go about it is to reach Panjim by bus and then take a local bus or taxi to Basilica of Bom Jesus. Panjim is about 10 km away from the place, and you should get to the church in under 30 minutes easily. You can check for the various dropping points in Goa on redBus and choose the one that is convenient for your journey.
If you want to be part of the pomp and grandeur of the glorious and happy Feast of St. Francis Xavier, you can easily make a whole trip of it. Start the holiday season in Goa with this glorious feast. Find your bus ticket in redBus for a safe and comfortable journey.
Disclaimer: In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, redBus has urged all the bus operators to take the required precautions for your safety. We also request you to maintain social distancing on every journey for your safety and that of others.