Relic of St Francis Xavier to visit Ararat

ARARAT - St Mary's Parish of Ararat is one of only four parishes to host the Relic of St Francis Xavier this weekend on its journey from Melbourne to Adelaide.

The relic of St Francis Xavier is believed to be his right arm and is secured in its own custom-built case, currently on a national tour of Australia.

According to The Age, the mummified relic, which still has flesh and all fingers intact, was given its own seat on the plane for the long flight from Rome to Australia last month.

It was accompanied by New South Wales Bishop Peter Comensoli, who gained permission from Rome's Church of the Gesu, to take the relic on a 23 city tour of Australia to mark the Catholic Church's Year of Grace.

The relic is seen as important as it is the arm which St Francis Xavier baptised and blessed thousands of people, tended and held so many sick and dying people, wrote letters back home to his companions reporting his adventures, trials and triumphs of ministry and inspiring many others to be engaged in the missionary enterprise.

St Francis Xavier had a huge impact on the world. Born in Navarre in Spain in 1506 he was one of three who founded the Society of Jesus - the Jesuit Order.

The King of Portugal was keen for Jesuits to minister to the Portuguese in newly established trading centres in India and East Asia and to spread the Gospel to the people of those lands, so in 1540 Francis Xavier set out on his mission.

He worked in Goa, east India and Sri Lanka, as well as parts of what is now modern day Indonesia, Singapore, the Philippines, Malaysia and Japan.

Seeing the influence of China in many of the cultures he visited, Xavier then decided to go there in 1552, but only got as far as Shangchuan Island, where he took ill and died

Father Brendan Davey, parish priest at St Mary's Parish, is pleased the Relic of St Francis Xavier will visit Ararat.

The Relic will arrive at Ararat's Church of the Immaculate Conception at 6.30pm tomorrow night in time for a 7pm Mass.

This will be followed by an all night Vigil, with the church being opened all night for prayer.

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