Vox Parva: Legacy of a great saint of the East


Benedict Keith Ip

Like the Feast of St. Joseph on March 19, today also used to be a big feast in Macau. On December 3, 1552, a missionary who died at the age of 46 paved a brand-new and cutting-edge way of acculturation for his fellows to preach in China. His centuries-old bronze statue was placed in the façade of Mater Dei Church, and his humerus bone is kept in St. Joseph Seminary Chapel. Sometimes, life does not need to be long to accomplish great things. Definitely St. Francis Xavier, S.J. is one of the best examples. Both places retain their importance in the realms of tourism and religion.
It seems our city’s legacy, as related to our great saint, still functions very well nowadays. Business promotions use the façade of our Ruins to get people’s attention to buy their new flats and apartments. Endless tourists come to the façade to take a few snapshots and continue their journey to go shopping. At least we can also find various groups of Protestants distributing religious materials. Very unfortunately there aren’t any Catholic footsteps left anymore during big feasts today, like Christmas or the Feast of St. Francis Xavier. This piece of his legacy is practically excluded from its original source, in which the acts and deeds of all Catholics in Macau should be collectively responsible for this outcome.
Of course, the legacy of the Church is huge, and celebrations can always take place on different occasions. Today the Faculty of Christian Studies will have a day long celebration of this patron of the school in St. Lawrence Church. In the evening the Jesuits will celebrate a thanksgiving mass in the Seminary Chapel to commemorate this great ancestor of the community together with his relic. On Sunday morning, a public mass will be celebrated in St Francis’ Church in Coloane with the bishop of Macau. Venerations and celebrations continue, but frankly speaking, who cares? Who would report those events when everybody can read his biography merely as a piece of information on the Internet?
Fr. M. Joseph Costello, S.J. has summarized very succinctly in the following paragraph a brief but highlighted biography of St. Francis Xavier’s life – he is one of the outstanding men of the first half of the 16th century. His major achievement was to consolidate and spread the Christian faith in India and in the Moluccas and Moro Islands of the Indonesian archipelago, and to introduce Christianity to the newly discovered islands of Japan.
His story ended when he failed to enter Canton as promised on November 19. Then he never recovered from his sickness. His Chinese partner Antonio, a new convert and his translator, placed a candle in Xavier’s hand. His dying words were, “In you, O Lord, have I hoped; let me never be confounded”.
A saint also needs to seek the consolation of the Lord simply because he can totally submit himself to His hand. Like Jesus, St. Francis Xavier also performed some miracles to the faithful. But he never used the miracles as his ultimate means to preach. Rather it is the belief and faith which he testified of that won souls. Can those who enjoy his legacy get his genuine message?

Categories Opinion