By Junno Arocho
SYDNEY, Australia, SEPT. 19, 2012 (Zenit.org).- A relic of St. Francis Xavier is making its way to Australia in what the Archdiocese of Sydney has called a “Pilgrimage of Grace”. The right forearm of the 16th century Spanish missionary will go on a 3 month tour. The relic has been kept for the past 400 years in the mother Church of the Jesuit order, the Church of the Gesu in Rome.
In a letter to the faithful on the occasion of the pilgrimage, Bishop Peter A. Comensoli, Auxiliary Bishop of Sydney expressed joy at the visit, inviting the faithful “to experience the person of Christ...through the presence of this great saint's relic”.
“St. Francis has always held a special place in the life of Catholics in Australia,” he said.
“When we were a missionary country, he was (along with St Therese of the Child Jesus) our co-patron. Three cathedrals and many churches and schools are named after him. He continues to inspire us as a tremendous example of a missionary and evangelizer, and he intercedes for our nation even today.”
Also commenting on the relic's visit, Fr. Steve Curtin, S.J., Provincial of the Society of Jesus, who welcomed the “Pilgrimage of Grace” as an opportunity to experience the story of the “greatest missionary journeys”. Recounting St. Francis Xavier's travels India, Indonesia, Japan, and finally, China, where the Jesuit missionary died. “The relic puts us in touch with this trailblazing story,” he said.
Visiting the parishes and schools, the relic was taken on Monday to St. Aloysius College, and from there to the parish of St. Ignatius in Riverview where it was displayed for four hours, allowing students of the nearby college to see the right hand of the saint who blessed and baptized thousands of converts during his travels Asia.
The relic was then taken to St Benedict's Church at Broadway before arriving at St. Patrick's Church at Mortlake where the faithful gathered for a liturgical service. Parishioners as well as students from the surrounding schools were told about the life of St. Francis and listened to excerpts from a letter the saint himself had written.