PANAJI: The Novena of Grace to St Francis Xavier will begin at the Basilica of Bom Jesus in Old Goa from March 4 to March 12, with the last date coinciding with the canonization of St Francis Xavier in 1622.
During the Novena, Masses will be celebrated at 6 am, 7 am, 8 am, 4.30 pm and 5.30 pm (all in Konkani) and 6.30 pm (English).
On Sunday, Masses will be celebrated in Konkani at 6 am, 7 am, 8 am, 9.15 am, 4.30 pm and 5.30 pm, while the English Masses will be celebrated at 10.15 am and 6.30 pm.
On March 6, a Mass will be celebrated at 10 am at the Chapel of St Francis Xavier in the ruins of St Paul's College. Various devotions will precede the Eucharistic celebrations during the days of the Novena.
According to Fr Patricio Fernandes, Rector at the Basilica of Bom Jesus, the Novena of Grace was started by St Francis Xavier himself.
“He appeared to the dying Jesuit priest Marcello Mastrilli on January 3, 1634. This young Jesuit was supervising the restoration of buildings at Napoli-Italy when a hammer slipped from the ceiling and fell on his head shattering it on December 11, 1633.”
“After 22 days, hopes of his recovery were abandoned and he was anointed. But that night, Marcello saw St Francis Xavier in a beggar's garb and assuring him that he would be up and perfectly restored to health and that he would die a martyr in Japan and that he should start the Novena of Grace.”
“The miraculous cure gave impetus to the Novena of Grace and spread throughout the world,” said Fr Fernandes.
“From 1967, through the initiative of Fr George D'Sa, the Novena took on a steady path and pilgrims, penitents and devotees started flocking to the Basilica of Bom Jesus to renew their lives in Christ,” he added.
Incidentally, the Marcello Mastrilli had described his vision of St Francis Xavier to a painter and his depiction of St Francis Xavier in a painting is presently located on the southern side of the mausoleum of the Bom Jesus Basilica. It is believed to be the closest resemblance of the saint, as there was no painting of St Francis Xavier during his lifetime.