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
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.
Martin on this 17th day of May, 2004