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The relic stateSt Francis Xavier and the politics of ritual in Portuguese India$
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Pamila Gupta

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780719090615

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719090615.001.0001

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Incorruption (1554)

Incorruption (1554)

(p.27) Chapter Two Incorruption (1554)
The relic state

Pamila Gupta

Manchester University Press

The second chapter traces the actual and written journey to sainthood of Jesuit missionary Francis Xavier(1506-1552), from his death and initial interment on the island of Sancian(1552), to his translation to Malacca(1553), to the elaborate celebrations surrounding the arrival of his body in Goa(1554), and lastly, to his process of canonization(1556-1622). The period between Xavier's death in 1552 and his canonization in 1622 can also be characterized as one in which Xavier's corpse was handled in an odd assortment of ways by church and state officials alike; he was interred three times and disinterred twice, alternately treated poorly and with respect, exuded a wholeness, freshness, and fragrant smell, spurted blood, was subject to numerous act of religious devotion and relic productions, medical exams and amputations, and by the end was missing a toe and an arm. However, these corporeal details are not without significance, rather they intimate the connections between the European practice of translating a saint's relics and Portuguese colonial state-building processes in 16th century Asia.

Keywords:   St. Francis Xavier, Sancian, Malacca, Goa, Jesuit hagiographies, Catholic saint veneration

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