Relic of St. Francis Xavier Visits St. Francis Xavier CHS, Hammond
The Catholic school community of St. Francis Xavier CHS in Hammond was privileged to have the opportunity to venerate the relic of its patron saint, St. Francis Xavier, on Friday, February 2. The relic, which is the forearm of St. Francis Xavier, as well as his body, are incorrupt – they have not experienced natural decay since his death in 1552.
In a news release about the pilgrimage, Terrence Prendergast, SJ, Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Ottawa notes, “Saint Francis Xavier is one of the most revered saints of all time. He was a man of extraordinary courage and faith who shared the Gospel message of Jesus with thousands across southeast Asia, Goa and India.”
The relic pilgrimage began on Wednesday, January 3 in Quebec City, and made its way to 15 cities across Canada for veneration. The pilgrimage was organized by the Archdiocese of Ottawa, the Canadian Jesuits and Catholic Christian Outreach (CCO), a national university student movement, as a gift for the Church in Canada at the close of the 150th anniversary year.
The event was attended by students from St. Francis Xavier CHS, as well as students from nearby CDSBEO elementary schools including St. Jude, St. Patrick and Pope John Paul II. Members of the school community were also in attendance, along with CDSBEO trustees and administrators.
Angèle Regnier, Co-Founder of Catholic Christian Outreach, spoke to the students about the life of St. Francis Xavier, and how the pilgrimage of the relic is an extraordinary opportunity to experience God’s love, and a unique occasion to personally encounter the tender heart of Jesus.
“The bones of our saints are sacred, and they are an opportunity to get even closer to our saints. God chooses to work through people, and places – he chooses to raise up saints to do his work in the world. The hand of St. Francis Xavier is one that has baptized tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people across Asia. So when you come and venerate today, you need to know this is very, very special, because even if you were to go to India to see his body, it is only lowered for touching once per decade. If you were to go to see this arm in Rome, it would be 20 feet above you, high up on an altar. But today, you will be face to face with this relic. This is very, very special. This is an opportunity for you to have an encounter with God, and with his dear servant St. Francis Xavier.”
The CCO is celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2018 – a milestone that was also the main catalyst of the visit.
“We could have never planned or foreseen such a gift for our 30th anniversary year,” said Angèle Regnier, in a December news release. “Saint Francis Xavier is one of our patron saints, so Archbishop Prendergast suggested we ask for the relic. Francis’ life resonates with young people who admire his story of conversion as a university student through his roommates.”
Each person in attendance was given an opportunity to venerate and offer written intentions. The relic will return to Rome on February 3.
Angèle Regnier addresses students at St. Francis Xavier CHS.