Message from Rev. Fr.Moreno D’Souza SJ – a Konkani writer and editor of “Roti” magazine as interviewed by Joel D’souza for GOACOM.
…Dear Friends and Goans spread all over the world….
St.Francis has been called by all Goans “Goencho Saib”, meaning – Lord of Goa.
For 9 days the corridors of the Bom Jesus Basilica, were occupied by the people of Salcette who were given the gift of faith by the followers of St.Francis Xavier. A lot of people from Salcette come for these novenas every year. On the second of Dec 1997, 400 people came on “walking pilgrimage” from Ambelim in Assolna in Salcette. They have been coming here for the last 11 years. This shows the gratitude of the people of Salcette to St.Francis Xavier.
Another example of the gratitude those “Bardezkars”, who for some reason or other left Goa and the end of the 16th century or the beginning of the 17th century. Though they left Goa, they have not forgotten their mother tongue “Konkani” and their faith. Later, 380 Bardezkars, including ‘non-christians’, came all the way from Azrem through various centres of Christianity found in Maharastra and Sindhudurg District led by 5 priests. On reaching here, they celebrated the mass. In the evening, according to their customs, they had “Kirtans” (hymns & preaching) in “Marathi” language in front of the Basilica of Bom Jesus. I say these words with affection and praise for all these Bardezkars, who have kept their age old traditions alive.
The kissing of the Relics of St.Francis Xavier:-
Later, thousands of devotees lined up to kiss the relics of St.Francis Xavier at the Basilica of Bom Jesus, beginning at 4 am this morning and will continue till 8 pm. in the evening. This shows the great love and devotion of Goans to their “Goencho Saib”. Preceeding the solemn feast, devotees camped in the corridors of the Basilica, during the 9 day Novenas.
… I asked them – “why do you come here?
Many tell us sad stories. Some say my son or daughter is sick and we invoked the help of St.Francis Xavier for his healing powers and they were granted. It’s quite natural that we come here to thank him”. They offer gifts made of wax depicting the face, limbs. etc. i.e the parts of the Human body that were ‘healed’.
The masses began at 4 am and the solemn “High Mass” was celebrated at 10.30 am with Auxiliary Bishop of Goa – Rev.Fr.Felipe Neri Ferrao being the main celebrant. Participating in the concelebrated mass were Arch.Bishop Francis Colaco (originally from Margao), presently the Nuncio to the Dominican Republic of South America; Bishop Alex Dias (From Calagute), first and only Bishop of Pilar society; and ex-Bishop of Belgaum, Ignatius Lobo (from Siolim) and also the Arch.Bishop of Goa – Rev. Raul Gonsalves
Among the large number of devotees, the Deputy Chief Minister of Goa – Dr.Wilfred D’souza and his Personal Assistant Trajan D’mello were also present.
After the feast, all devotees proceeded to the old-Goa “fair” which is probably the largest in Goa. At the fair, one could puchase many items and eatables like Chonnem(Grams), Khajem(Goan Sweet), Chourico-pao(Goan sausage and Bread) and Sorpotel.