(Vatican Radio) He’s known as the Apostle of the East, the most travelled missionary and evangeliser since the days of St Paul. St Francis Xavier, co-founder of the Society of Jesus, lived in the first half of the 16th century and was famed for his work of bringing the Gospel to India, Japan and parts of modern day Indonesia.
He never travelled to Australia of course, because it hadn’t been discovered by European explorers back then. But now, 460 years after his death, a relic of the missionary, revered as one of Australia’s patron saints, is travelling to Sydney for a pilgrimage to mark the Year of Grace, inaugurated by the country’s Catholic bishops at Pentecost.
Most of the saint’s body is kept in a basilica in Goa, India, while this relic, the arm with which he baptised and blessed the crowds, is normally housed at the main Jesuit church of the Gesù here in Rome.
Auxiliary bishop of Sydney, Peter Comensole, is the man behind this national pilgrimage of St Francis to Australia which began on September 16th. He talked to Vatican Radio’s Philippa Hitchen about what he hopes it’ll achieve in this important year for new evangelisation….