A Guide to Feast of St. Francis Xavier Goa
One of the most popular vacation spots in India, Goa attracts millions of tourists from all over the world. With beautiful beaches, sparkling waters, delectable cuisine and a modern vibe, a visit to Goa is a must for everyone. Not only for travellers who are looking to relax and unwind, but Goa is also for roisterers as the place has a very vibrant nightlife, with parties continuing till the wee hours of the morning.
Goa is also very rich in heritage and culture, with its Portuguese history reflecting the customs, architecture, and celebrations in the state. One of the biggest celebrations, the Feast of St. Francis Xavier offers a unique Goa experience for everyone visiting the place.
December 3rd marks the death anniversary of St. Francis Xavier, and on this date, the Feast of St. Francis Xavier is celebrated, which is the biggest Christian festival in Goa. Thousands of locals and tourists throng the Basilica of Bom Jesus, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This church is situated in Old Goa and is a wonderful testimony to Baroque architecture. Constructed in 1605, the Basilica of Bom Jesus is one of the most important churches for Christian pilgrims all over the world, and it houses the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier.
St. Francis Xavier is known as ‘Goencho Saib’, or the Lord of Goa by the locals, and is a loved, and worshipped deity. He is one of the first Jesuit leaders to promote Christianity in Goa. St. Francis Xavier was born in Navarre, Spain, in 1506. In 1525, he went to study in Paris, where he met Ignatius of Loyola, who moved him spiritually. In 1534, he took a vow of poverty, chastity and obedience to the Pope. In 1542, he reached Goa and spent a lot of time healing the sick in the hospitals, preaching to the Portuguese settlers and teaching the children as well. When he passed away on 3rd December in 1552 in China, his body was moved to Goa. Thus, the happy feast of St. Francis Xavier is held to honour his life.
Miraculously, even after 400 years of his death, the corpse of St. Francis Xavier has not decayed. It is kept in a silver casket and is open every 10 years for the worshippers to see and pray to. The last time the corpse was exposed - it was 2014, and the next date will be 2024.
Every year, Goa gets in a festive mood during this period. The devotees pray for nine days, called the Novena, and after this, the festival is celebrated to honour St. Francis Xavier’s life. The congregation comprising superior clergy also execute a Pontifical Mass. The feast day is a beautiful celebration.
On the day of the Feast of St. Francis Xavier, the Basilica of Bom Jesus is flocked to by millions of devotees. The roads leading up to the church are blocked, and there is a fair that is held in the church complex that houses souvenir stalls, eateries and other trinket shops.
The Basilica of Bom Jesus is located in Bainguinim, in Old Goa and is one of the best places to visit in Goa. The best way to reach is to take a bus or a taxi from Panjim to reach the church. Located at a distance of 10 km from the capital, travellers can reach the Basilica in less than 30 minutes. The Feast of St. Francis Xavier 2021 is going to be extremely crowded and busy, and tourists must make travel arrangements in advance.
December is the best time to visit Goa, as the weather is extremely pleasant. The average temperature ranges from 31°C to 23°C , making it suitable for sightseeing, and staying out for longer periods of time without feeling hot or uncomfortable. During this period, all beach shacks, water sports and restaurants are open, making it very popular among tourists.
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Not just for Christian devotees, the Feast of St. Francis Xavier is a must-have Goa experience and is one of the best things to do in Goa. Not just from the 3rd of December, the entire city gets in the festival mood from 21st November itself, and the atmosphere around the Basilica of Bom Jesus is infectious. A stay at one of Club Mahindra resorts in Goa will make the Feast of St. Francis Xavier 2021 more spectacular and relaxing.