The Beaches of Goa & Saint Francis Xavier: The last leg of my journey in India landed me in Western India on the Arabian Sea in Goa, known for its sandy and beautiful beaches. However, it was a treat for me to visit the Basilica of Bon Jesu (the Good Jesus) where the body and relics of Saint Francis Xavier, S.J. are housed. In 1614 the superior general of the Jesuits removed Frances’ right arm, which he used to preach and baptize, to display in the Jesu Church in Rome, Italy.
Francis Xavier (died 1552) was born in 1506 to a noble family in Spain. While studying at the University of Paris, where he was an excellent student and teacher, he met Ignatius of Loyola. That relationship changed Xavier’s life. He was part of the first group of Jesuits. As a Jesuit, he gave his life, his mind, his talents and energies to the Lord through the Order. Ignatius sent him to be a missionary to the Far East, to India, and then to Japan.
Arriving as a missionary in Goa in 1541, he cared for the ill in the Royal Hospital, and preached in the streets for the conversion and salvation of Hindu, Jewish, and Muslim people alike. His zealous efforts to re-evangelize the Portuguese settlers who had strayed far from the Christian faith is still felt in Goa today. Francis Xavier learned the language and culture of the people, finding that “personal point of contact” with each person to create an avenue for Christ.
In India, he has been described as walking the streets ringing a bell which drew the children and many others to follow him. Then, he would stop and teach them the basic prayers and truths of the Gospel. Through the children, he reach the adults. It was like homeschooling in reverse!
To bring sight and light to the spiritually blind was his mission. During this season of Lent, we could honor this great missionary by trying to share our faith with just one person, to help one individual see Christ in a new light through us. Like Francis Xavier, we can bring someone to Christ by bringing Christ to them at their point of real need.
“Take, O Lord, and receive, all my liberty, my memory, my understanding and my entire will. All that I have and possess. You have given all to me, to you O Lord, I return it. All is Yours, dispose of it wholly according to Your will. Only give me Your love and Your grace, for that is sufficient for me. Amen.”
Saint Ignatius of Loyola