Goencho Saib: The Life and Miracles of Saint Francis Xavier

From the castle of Navarra, Spain to the Basilica of Bom Jesus, Old Goa - the journey of Saint Francis Xavier.

By Museum Of Christian Art, Goa

Museum of Christian Art (MoCA), Old Goa

Saint Francis Xavier (Mid-19th century) by UnknownMuseum Of Christian Art, Goa

Saint Francis Xavier

Born on 7th April, 1506 in Spain's Navarra, Francis Xavier was the youngest of six children. In 1525, he went to the University of Paris for higher studies.

Humeral veil (18th century) by UnknownMuseum Of Christian Art, Goa

Humeral Veil

While studying at the University of Paris, he met Ignatius of Loyola whose efforts led Francis Xavier to a religious conversion. In 1534, Francis Xavier, Ignatius of Loyola and five others formed a religious order of priests, the Society of Jesus (also known as the Jesuits).

The Jesuits adopted the trigram of Christ (IHS) and the three nails, surmounted by a cross as the emblem of their Order. This emblem appears on buildings built by the Jesuits, liturgical objects and textiles such as this 18th century humeral veil.

Incense Boat (17th century) by UnknownMuseum Of Christian Art, Goa

Incense boat

King John III of Portugal sought the services of the Jesuits to work in the Asian colonies of his empire. Saint Francis Xavier arrived in Goa in 1542 as a Papal legate, along with another Jesuit priest and began his missionary work in India and other South East Asian countries.

Reliquary cofferMuseum Of Christian Art, Goa

Reliquary coffer

Saint Francis Xavier’s missionary activities in India and South East Asia are marked by various miracles, as seen in many of the objects associated with the Saint.

Miracles, said to have been performed by Saint Francis Xavier, are depicted on this coffer’s side, one about the raising of a dead man, and another alluding to the help given to the Vicar of Malacca, where the saint drove away demons persecuting him at the time of his death.

Reliquary cofferMuseum Of Christian Art, Goa

The back of the coffer informs us of the contents it once held - a piece of the surplice worn by Saint Francis Xavier. On the right, it reads “SOBREPELIS” (surplice) and “D.S. FRANCISCO XAV” on the left.

Altar card (Early 17th century) by UnknownMuseum Of Christian Art, Goa

Altar card

According to popular belief, Saint Francis Xavier was caught in a storm while on his way to Malacca. He prayed to God and dipped his crucifix into the turbulent waters to calm them, but while doing so the crucifix slipped out of his hand and fell into the sea.

When he reached Malacca, while walking along the seashore he saw a crab come out of the water towards him. It was carrying the crucifix in its claws.

Reliquary Cross (17th century) by Unknown authorMuseu Nacional de Machado de Castro

Reliquary cross

This is a 17th century silver reliquary cross from Jesus College in Coimbra, and currently at the Machado de Castro National Museum, Coimbra, Portugal. 
This reliquary preserves the cross that Saint Francis Xavier dipped in the sea, as mentioned in the inscription on this object 

Votive plaque Saint Francis Xavier Inscription: S. FRANCISCO XAVIER (19th-20th century) by UnknownMuseum Of Christian Art, Goa

Votive plaque

Saint Francis Xavier died on 3rd December 1552, on Sanchian Island, while awaiting permission to enter mainland China. His body was shifted to Malacca in February 1553 and subsequently brought to Goa. His mortal remains were kept at St Paul’s College (now in ruins). 

Votive plaque Saint Francis Xavier Inscription: S. FRANCISCO XAVIER (19th-20th century) by UnknownMuseum Of Christian Art, Goa

After  canonization in 1622, his body was moved to the Basilica of Bom Jesus in 1624, where it lies to this day in a silver coffin. The coffin has 32 plates carved with scenes depicting his life and miracles.

By James BurkeLIFE Photo Collection

Tomb of Saint Francis Xavier

This photograph by James Burke (1952-12) shows devotees venerating the relics of Saint Francis Xavier in Old Goa.

Votive plaque Saint Francis Xavier Inscription: S. FRANCISCO XAVIER (19th-20th century) by UnknownMuseum Of Christian Art, Goa

Votive plaque

The handle of the staff in the saint's hand indicates that it could be the one that the Count of Alvor placed in the Saint’s coffin, seeking his intercession when the Maratha ruler Sambhaji was preparing to enter Goa.

This is probably the reason why he is known as Goencho Saib (protector of Goa).

Sam Fransisku Xaviera

Raimundo Barreto wrote the lyrics, set to music, and conducted the first rendition of the hymn 'Sam Francisku Xaviera'. He composed the hymn in fulfilment of a vow that he made to the Saint, after the latter's intercession is said to have miraculously saved him from drowning.

Credits: Story

The texts are excerpted from the Museum catalogue, 'Museum of Christian Art Convent of Santa Monica Goa. India'.

Image credits: Antonio Cunha under the commission of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation

YouTube video of Sam Fransisku Xaviera: from Aradhon.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Google apps