Canadian Pilgrims Throng to St. Francis Xavier Relic


National Catholic Register, 13 January 2018

A first-class relic is drawing large crowds on a 14-city tour of Canada.

KINGSTON, Canada — One of the Church’s most significant relics is making a pilgrimage across Canada this January.

The right forearm and hand of St. Francis Xavier, patron saint of missions, is visiting 14 cities on a pilgrimage initiated by Archbishop Terrence Prendergast of Ottawa and organized by Catholic Christian Outreach (CCO), Canada’s national campus missionary movement. (American readers might be familiar with Fellowship of Catholic University Students — a similar movement established a decade after CCO was founded in Canada.)

The Canadian pilgrimage, which stopped in Kingston, Ontario, Jan. 9-10, has drawn pilgrims in far larger numbers than originally expected. In Quebec City, where cathedral organizers told the relic team to expect about 200 people, 1,500 came to venerate the relic. In St. John’s, Newfoundland, there were 1,800. In the small town of Antigonish, Nova Scotia, home to St. Francis Xavier University, officials at the university thought only a few dozen would be interested. More than 1,000 attended. In Kingston, more than 2,000 people came to pray before the relic. A weekday noon Mass with Archbishop Brendan O’Brien was so full that it looked like Holy Week.

“The saints are examples of the Christian life,” said Archbishop O’Brien. “People look to them as an example of how to live their lives. Different saints have different qualities. With St. Francis Xavier, it was that openness to do God’s will, and it was that zeal to go to a far-off country to preach the Gospel.”

Archbishop O’Brien highlighted in his homily that missionaries today are still working abroad, sometimes in great danger, with more than 20 such being killed in the service of the Gospel in 2017. At the same time, he stressed that the mission today begins at home, with the New Evangelization aimed at Canada’s secular culture.

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