A treasured holy relic of St Francis Xavier, often called the greatest missionary after St Paul, will arrive at the Cathedral of St Stephen tomorrow, Friday 16 November, as part of a national pilgrimage.
It is extremely rare for the relic, the right forearm of the saint, to leave the Il Gesu church in Rome, the mother church of the Society of Jesus where it is under care of the Jesuits, the order co-founded by St Francis.
The relic has been touring the country during this special ‘Year of Grace’ in Australia.
As a priest who blessed and baptised more than 300,000 in his travels through India and Japan, St Francis Xavier was formerly one of Australia’s missionary patrons and many parishes, cathedrals, schools and Jesuit ministries are named in his honour.
Devotion to holy relics is a venerable tradition in the Catholic Church. This significant relic of St Francis Xavier provides Australians with a unique opportunity to make the story of St Francis and the Jesuits better known and will provide a tangible and visible connection to a great missionary.
The relic will be officially received by Archbishop Mark Coleridge at noon, followed by a Mass of reception at 12.30pm and then veneration, catechesis, further Masses (including an evening one for the Goan community) and veneration until 10pm. Early on Saturday morning veneration will take place from 5.00am until a Mass at 7.00am after which it departs at 8.00am for the Marian Valley Shrine at Canungra. The relic will be at Canungra from approximately 9.45am until 12noon.
Released by the Catholic Communications Office
November 15, 2012