St. Francis Xavier relic arm set for Canadian tour

November 13, 2017 — A significant relic of St. Francis Xavier is coming to Canada for a month-long, 14-city pilgrimage beginning with Catholic Christian Outreach’s (CCO) Rise Up conference in Ottawa Dec. 28 - Jan. 1.

The idea for bringing the relic, the arm of the Jesuit missionary, originated with another Jesuit, Archbishop Terrence Prendergast of Ottawa, said CCO co-foundress Angèle Regnier.

“It was all his dream,” she said.

“He had mentioned it to me a few times over the past five to seven years,” she said. “He said CCO should ask for the arm of St. Francis Xavier since he’s one of our patrons, along with St. Thérèse of Lisieux. He knows how much we love him.”

Regnier and her husband, CCO co-founder Andrè Regnier, have been with the archbishop at the Church of the Gesù in Rome, the mother church of the Society of Jesus where the Jesuit’s founder St. Ignatius of Loyola is buried and where the arm of St. Francis Xavier is kept in a reliquary.

“The relic very rarely leaves the Gesù,” Regnier said.

St. Francis Xavier is considered the greatest evangelist in the Church since St. Paul. His body, considered incorrupt, is at the Basilica of Bom Jesus in Goa, India, though his arm was brought to the Jesuit’s mother church. “That’s the arm that baptized the hundreds of thousands,” said Regnier.

Preaching St. Francis Xavier by Giovanni Andrea Carlone via Marie-Lan Nguyen of Wikimedia Commons
Preaching St. Francis Xavier by Giovanni Andrea Carlone via Marie-Lan Nguyen of Wikimedia Commons

With the CCO’s 30th anniversary set for next October, she sent an email to the archbishop to see if something could be done to mark that milestone. Last spring, while the Ontario bishops were making their ad limina visit to Rome, Prendergast said he visited the rector of the Gesù Church to see whether a loan of the relic could be arranged.

The rector told him any pilgrimage would have to be after the saint’s Dec. 3 feast day, “so that restricted our possibilities for 2017, but that it could be done with the permission of the Procurator General of the Jesuits, the Vicariate of Rome and the Italian state,” Prendergast said.

The application for the relic also includes details on the travel schedule, insurance and who will accompany the relic to and from Rome.

Regnier pointed out the relic needs its own seat on the plane. “It can’t be put in a suitcase,” she said.

A Canadian Jesuit, Fr. Michael Kolarcik, who is rector of the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome, will accompany the relic to Canada after Christmas and Prendergast will accompany it back to Rome in February. The Regniers will accompany the relic on its pilgrimage from coast to coast, including stops in Montreal, Regina, Vancouver and Toronto.

The pilgrimage has a joint effort with the Jesuits of Canada, the Ottawa archdiocese and CCO.

“The Jesuit Order is all about missions confided to us by the Holy Father and living out our charism in service to the Church,” said Prendergast. “Xavier lived that dramatically, sent by Ignatius Loyola when the other Jesuit selected to go on the mission fell ill.”

Regnier hopes the mere presence of this saint’s relic will “bring conversions of the heart.”

The Regniers have prepared a prayer guide book, with the proclamation of the Gospel, the kerygma, she said.

Regnier also expects healing as a grace from the pilgrimage.

“St. Francis Xavier was a healer. There were so many healings. He raised multiple people from the dead. He was a miracle worker.”

Source: [ Catholic Register ]

For more information on the pilgrimage schedule, please click here.

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