Indian Catholic News

French St. Xavier novenas in Goa soon

The church had introduced Spanish and Portuguese masses in 2011 which received a heartening response.


The nine-day novena for the feast of St. Francis Xavier at the Basilica of Bom Jesus in Old Goa might soon get a French touch.

Basilica officials are mulling the idea of conducting the novena in French, after introducing it in Spanish and Portuguese.

The relics of the saint are kept at the Basilica, a world heritage site that attracts pilgrims from across the globe.

The church had introduced Spanish and Portuguese masses in 2011 which received a heartening response.

"We received a good crowd for the Spanish and Portuguese services. While Portuguese turned out to be popular, lot of Goans who know Spanish attended the service in that language. We think that many pilgrims may be interested in a service in French too,” said Fr. Savio Barreto, Basilica rector.

He said that they have written to embassies who send out message to their people that such a service is being offered and that “gets us a good response in these foreign languages.”

He said that despite the novenas being offered in an array of languages, the service in the local Konkani remains the most popular, in the run-up to the December 3 feast.

"Konkani attracts the largest crowd and Marathi is popular too, as we get many devotees from around Goa. We have several Malayalam and Tamil speakers staying in Goa, who attend mass in those languages. Hindi gets a poor response, which is surprising as it is the national language. Usually the priests and nuns have to get together for the Hindi service," the priest said.

For the church authorities, the services offered in a wide range of languages, including English, shows the universality of St Francis Xavier's message, cutting across the language, caste and creed barriers.

St Xavier, who preached in many countries, travelled along the Malabar coast, Japan and Malaysia.

In Tamil Nadu, during the novena and feast, services at the Basilica of Our Lady of Health, Vailankanni, are held in eight languages-Tamil, Marathi, Hindi, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Konkani, and the lone foreign tongue, English.

The novenas at Old Goa are set to be offered in Kannada too this December.


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