The feast day of St Francis Xavier is being celebrated today in Goa, southern India, with a special Mass at the Bom Jesus Basilica. Since 1782, the Basilica in the city which St Francis evangelised, has hosted his relics once every ten years. The Catholic Archbishop of Goa Mgr Felipe Neri Antonio Sebastiao do Rosario Ferrao told Fides news service the relics arrived on 21 November. He said: "The event has become a major celebration for the local Church awaited anxiously by Catholics near and far. "We see the arrival of more than 10,000 every day, from Goa, other parts of India and even other countries. On 24 November we started the novena for the Feast of St Francis on 3 December when a solemn Mass will be presided by the papal nuncio in India Archbishop Pedro Mons. Lopez Quintana". "The diocese prepared for this major event with care. In June I addressed a special Pastoral Letter to all the parishes and we formed an ad hoc committee to organise spiritual preparations. Meetings, prayers and other initiatives were held in every parish and people were really looking forward to the festivities" the Archbishop said. "This event is most important for us because St Francis Xavier was one of the greatest missionaries to Asia and the exposition of his relics offers a great opportunity to renew and intensify our missionary vocation and efforts. As the Pope says in Ecclesia in Asia, the Good News must be proclaimed to Asia by bishops, priests, religious and lay people. This is a privileged time to rediscover our missionary responsibility to proclaim the Gospel and the great missionary tradition of the Church in Goa." the Archbishop told Fides.
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