Date: January 10, 2018 12:41PM
St. Francis Xavier died 465 years ago. He is said to have baptised over 100,000 people. His baptizing arm is somehow preserved to date and presently on a tour of Canada.
The Catholic relic arrived in Newfoundland first as part of its 14-city tour, a gift for Canada's 150th birthday. The "incorrupt" forearm and hand (so called due to lack of decay) usually resides in a reliquary at the Jesuit mother church in Rome.
Reasons for long line-ups to view the relic were given as "the oddity of the relic and the deep belief in the church and the teachings of St. Francis Xavier".
Francis is apparently considered the be "the greatest evangelizer since St. Paul for his missionary work".
One woman who went to see the arm stated "It lets you be part of something that is more powerful than all of us”. She said that a lot of Newfoundlanders pray to St. Francis, hence the crowds to see the relic.
One of the faithful stated that Francis' aim in life was to "baptize and Christianize people".
Here are some statements in the newspaper article describing the relic's tour that I found interesting:
"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to venerate the relic of one of the greatest missionaries and evangelists since St. Paul the Apostle."
"The Catholic Christian Outreach is hoping for three extraordinary graces as an outcome from this pilgrimage, including the conversion of souls, raising up of missionary disciples who are abandoned to God’s will[,] and healing."
"The church hopes those who attend each relic stop will have the unique opportunity to personally encounter Jesus."
There are 13 more stops across the country, including the city where I live. I'm allergic to line-ups so will avoid. Also, I'm not Catholic. However, a while back I did go to see a facsimile of the Shroud of Turin, displayed in a church right near where I live so I couldn't resist. Only the second time I've been in a Catholic Church in my life. Oh - third, I guess. First was as a babe in arms when my parents baptized me in a church in England where I was born. I didn't venerate the Shroud, as it was only a copy anyway, and because I don't believe in it, and because I'm not the venerating sort. But I get the fascination with it.
I think I would have had to be brought up as a Catholic to believe in the saints and all that. Or maybe even then I wouldn't believe. I much more easily blended in with my first encounter with religion - the JW's - who don't believe in veneration either. Also, they heartily dislike the Catholic Church, much like the Mormons (although they may have lightened up about it a bit recently?).
I'm much more interested in knowing how the relic didn't "corrupt". But it still doesn't look pretty. I'm squeamish enough that I wouldn't want to see it in person. On the TV news it looked quite black - ewwwww. But it means a lot to many folks. I do somewhat understand the instinct though and the longing for miracles. Even I, a skeptic in that regard, was 87% in favour of my devout Catholic uncle travelling to Lourdes to seek healing when he became ill way young. It was really just a desperate impulse on my part, and a very tiny little faint hope. But he never made it there and as is the reality of human existence he went away before his time, as they say.
The Xavier relic reminded me of the Mormon "arm to the square". I didn't know what that meant the first time I heard it. It sounded quite strange. The missionary I queried about meaning looked baffled and demonstrated holding his arm up. "But what does it MEAN?" I asked again and he just shook his head, muttering "the square". I tend to be literal and I was asking "what SQUARE?". Much later, on a trip to Salt Lake City (as a pilgrim?!), when we went into the heart of the Mormon existence there, the light dawned. I said "Aha, the SQUARE!". And for a very long time I thought the arm was raised to Temple Square, a symbol of Mormonism. Now I realize that it's more a geometric thing. Right?
I know there are aspects of all religious beliefs that seem strange to outsiders.
Some stranger than others, of course.
Edit to Add: Oops, forgot the link to the newspaper article I was referencing:http://www.thetelegram.com/news/local/relic-draws-newfoundlanders-to-basilica-to-see-saints-preserved-arm-175000/
Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 01/10/2018 01:59PM by Nightingale.