Relic forearm of Saint Francis Xavier to visit Calgary during first Canadian trip
More than 100,000 Canadians are expected to view the right-handed forearm during a month-long visit
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The severed forearm of a 512-year-old saint is coming to Calgary as part of its first-ever visit to Canada.
Born in 1506, Saint Francis Xavier co-founded the Society of Jesus (better known as the Jesuits) and dedicated much of his life to missionary work in Asia, then called the Portuguese Empire.
The Archdiocese of Ottawa, the Canadian Jesuits and Catholic Christian Outreach (CCO) organized the 14-city tour for the relic, which is permanently displayed at the Church of the Gesù in Rome.
The veneration kicked off on Jan. 3 at the Cathedral-Basilica of Notre-Dame de Québec in Quebec City and will be in Calgary later this month.
More than 100,000 Canadians are expected to view the right-handed forearm – which Xavier reportedly used to baptize thousands of people with while he was alive – before it returns to its home in February.
The reverence of relics has long been an importance practice for Catholics, according to CCO co-founder Angèle Regnier.
“Spending time with a relic such as this one can lead to immeasurable good,” Regnier said. “It’s often a catalyst for a deeper encounter with God or deeper understanding of one’s vocation or purpose in life … we’re just thrilled to be able to help bring this relic to all Canadians.”
Xavier’s body is buried in Goa, India and according to the CCO, neither his body or the detached forearm has experienced natural decay.
Ottawa Archbishop Rev. Terrence Prendergast said Xavier, who died in 1552, is one of the most revered saints of all time.
“He was a man of extraordinary courage and faith,” Prendergast said. “(He) shared the Gospel message of Jesus with thousands across southeast Asia, Goa and India.”
The saint’s forearm will be at the Sacred Heart Church in Calgary on Jan. 21, and at the St. Michael Catholic Community on Jan. 22.
The relic will also visit Ottawa, St. John’s, Halifax, Antigonish, Kingston, Toronto, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Regina, Vancouver, Victoria and Montreal.