OPEN EMAIL to the Director General

of the

Archaeological Survey of India, New Delhi


 Sub: Proposition to erect St. Francis Xavier's statue in the traffic-island overlooking the Church of St. Francis of Assisi and the Se Cathedral, Old Goa, where Luis de Camoes' statue once stood.


It is a universal fact, sanctified by faith and magnified by curiosity, that the city of Old Goa is synonymous with St. Francis Xavier's name and his sacred remains. Oddly yet, the essence of his immortal significance appears undermined — almost nonexistent — as one enters the historical City of Old Goa.

While many millions are expected to attend the Exposition of St. Francis Xavier's miraculously preserved body this November, the majority of them will be tourists -- spurred by curiosity -- and expecting a larger than life impression of St Francis Xavier upon setting foot in Old Goa. Instead, they will find themselves awe-struck and besieged by the monumental grandeur of several churches and convents, scattered within a convergingly small radius. Eventually, their realization of who St. Francis Xavier is or was, will hinge on a subjective assimilation upon taking their stand before the saint's casket and viewing his weathered remains.

On the other hand, if a life-size statue of St. Francis Xavier (see above pic) were to be erected in the existing traffic-island, the majority of these tourists would, undoubtedly, at least have the occasion to acquaint their curiosity with a more discernible insight of St. Francis Xavier before taking the pivotal stand.

Indeed, there are relevant reading materials and imagery that depict St. Francis Xavier's life and work. And there are also a number of guided tours available to tourists upon their arrival at various points of entry in Goa. But these resources and facilities are not the issue here. The issue here pertains to one of essence: Does the city of Old Goa – and in a greater context, will the Exposition itself – evoke the essence of St. Francis Xavier in a manner consistent with his spiritual aura which distills the faith of the faithful with fervor, and the curiosity of the curious with unsustainable prejudice?


The proposition of having St. Francis Xavier's statue erected in the subject location would have been complex, perhaps political -- even inflammatory -- if Old Goa was an administrative, commercial and residential city like Panjim. Or it would have been redundant, if St. Francis Xavier was merely some village icon or a mythological artifact in the corridors of the supernatural.
Similarly, if statues of statesmen and other civic notables can be liberally enforced on the public eye in order to perpetuate the legacy of their stay on earth, then logic would dictate that something is gravely amiss in Old Goa.


NOTE: In 1996, I made the subject proposition in person to Dr. B.P. Singh when he visited Old Goa, as well as presented him with a copy of my article titled, St. Francis Xavier, Old Goa, and the vacant pedestal . . . , which appeared in a local newspaper four years prior. Dr. Singh was, at the material time, the Secretary of Culture and acting Director General of the ASI. In reviewing my proposition, Dr. Singh's overall impression was in the positive.

It would thus appear to be in the binding wisdom of the Archaeological Survey of India and of the State, to sanction and erect a statue of St Francis Xavier in Old Goa, in the very location where Luis de Camoes' statue once stood and welcomed visitors to the historic city of Old Goa. The statue, ideally, should be a replica (see pic at left and detail of same above) of the one situated to the left as one enters the Bom Jesus Basilica. For purposes of accelerating the project, the statue could initially be made of plaster, and the original mold reused for the permanent cast in bronze.
In light of the above, it is earnestly hoped that expediency becomes the order of events in resurrecting this proposition to its incarnation for the 2004 Exposition so that the faithful, the curious and the skeptical can be on the same optic latitude.

Submitted by Dom Martin on this 17th day of May, 2004