Pope Francis has expressed his inability to visit India for the 17th public exposition of the sacred relics of St Francis Xavier in Goa scheduled for November 22, 2014 to January 4, 2015. Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrao said that the Catholic Bishops’ conference of India, which has its offices in Delhi, had invited the Pope through the government of India and that the Pope had replied to say that he was unable to come to India. If the Holy Father does visit India later next year, he will surely come to Goa, Ferrao said. Ferrao launched the official portal of the exposition on Wednesday and said, “I sincerely pray that this solemn exposition of the relics of our saint, and the massive spiritual preparation the church of Goa is engaged in, may be an occasion for us to renew our faith and live more joyfully and courageously amidst the manifold challenges of our times. May it also bring the priceless gift of God to many people who are sincerely searching for the real meaning and purpose of their lives.”
The theme of the exposition will be “faith creates communion, strengthens family, commissions to renew the society”. Exposition committee convenor Fr Alfred Vaz said that through the website, the committee will update pilgrims about the exposition and all the important religious events, schedule of masses, novenas and public veneration sessions.
Vaz said that the upcoming exposition will be the 17th time the sacred relics will be brought down and taken from the Basilica of Bom Jesus to the Se Cathedral for public veneration. Considering that about 30 lakh pilgrims attended the exposition in 2004, this time at least 50 lakh pilgrims are expected, Vaz said. Vaz said the committee is engaged in the spiritual preparations for the exposition since last October at various levels including the small Christian communities, parishes, schools and various diocesan centres.
Exposition committee member Elvis Gomes said this exposition will be slightly different from the previous ones. In addition to the daily masses and the veneration of the sacred relics, pilgrims will have access to many facilities in a specially-erected pandal outside the Cathedral. These facilities will include a prayer room, counseling, cultural performances, literature from which pilgrims may enrich their faith. Xavier was a Basque missionary who came to Goa in the XVI century. He died off China and his body was brought to Goa. His sacred relics lie at the Basilica of Bom Jesus in Old Goa. Every ten years Xavier’s sacred relics are brought down from the mausoleum for the faithful to venerate.
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