The decennial exposition of the sacred relics of Saint Francis Xavier, popularly known as Gõycho Saib, will commence on November 21, 2024, and end on January 5, 2025.
His Eminence Filipe Neri Cardinal Ferrão, Archbishop of Goa and Daman, has issued a special decree to announce the spiritual event which draws lakhs of people from across the world.
The decree states: “In conformity with a long-standing practice followed in this Archdiocese of holding Solemn Exposition of the Sacred Relics of St Francis Xavier every 10 years, we determine that the Solemn Exposition be held in 2024, beginning on Thursday, 21 November 2024, and ending on Sunday, 5 January 2025.”
A release from the Diocesan Centre for Social Communications Media said that a special committee, comprising laymen and women, religious sisters and priests, to deal with matters of the solemn exposition has also been appointed by the archbishop.
The release further states that the decennial spiritual event allows the faithful to reflect on the “faith journey” of St Francis Xavier and to emulate his zeal for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
“St Francis, a man of knowledge and expertise, fame and rank, is a constant reminder that nothing has the power to affect change as much as love and compassion. His noble life and his abiding presence among us are an aide-mémoire that it is only a personal encounter with Christ that makes us his true disciples,” the release said.
This is perhaps the first time that the exposition of the sacred relics has been announced two years in advance. The Diocesan Centre for Social Communications Media said this was keeping in mind a two-fold purpose – to step up the renewal of Christian life at all levels in the archdiocese and to give sufficient time to the pilgrims to plan their journey.
In its endeavour to bolster the renewal of Christian life, the Church in Goa is looking to the exposition to be the culmination of a spiritual journey of renewal and hope, to be undertaken by every individual, every family, every parish and the entire Church in Goa and Daman. “It is not only the event but the journey leading to the event that is important,” the release said.
Simultaneously, the universal Church is preparing for a Synod on Synodality and also for the Jubilee Year 2025.
“For the Catholic faithful in Goa and Daman, the upcoming exposition of the sacred relics of St Francis Xavier is a God-given opportunity to learn to walk together as pilgrims of hope. The two years of spiritual preparation leading to the exposition will focus on walking with the poor and the marginalised, walking with peoples of all faiths and cultures, and walking in harmony with creation,” the release said.
The early announcement of the exposition by the archdiocese indicates how seriously it takes this event. Last time, the Church made its announcement of the exposition 13 months before the event.
With an average of a lakh pilgrims expected daily, the exposition does not require merely spiritual preparation but logistical too. At the last exposition, the state too had constituted the Exposition Commission for logistic preparations and to ensure the security of the event.