.- While he was alive, St. Francis Xavier never got to ride in an airplane. They would not be invented for 400 more years after his death.
But now, his severed arm will get to take a trip across Canada in its very own seat.
The relic of the Jesuit missionary, ordinarily kept in the Church of the Gesù in Rome, will be making a cross-country trip through Canada this winter, as part of an initiative from the university group Catholic Christian Outreach.
Angèle Regnier, co-founder of Catholic Christian Outreach, told CBC radio that travelling with the saint’s arm will be “like doing a road trip with a friend.”
“I mean, I know it’s bones, but connected to that is a living friendship with St. Francis Xavier,” she said.
In the Catholic Church, relics are physical objects that have a direct association with the saints or with Jesus. The arm of St. Francis Xavier is considered a first class relic, which is the body or fragments of the body of a saint. The practice of venerating relics has been a Scripture-based tradition in the Church for centuries.
Regnier will be accompanying the saint’s arm on its trip from Rome to Canada, where the relic will make a month-long tour through much of the country.
The fragility of the relic, which is encased in a gold and glass reliquary and has its own padded duffle bag, necessitated that it travel in its own seat on Air Canada.
“We can’t put it underneath. We can’t even put it in the overhead bins. Like, he has to have his own seat,” she told CBC radio.
“You’re trying to explain this to Air Canada. We need to book a seat. He is a person in a way, but it’s not a person, it’s an arm.”
The saint’s arm is a significant relic. With that arm, it is estimated that St. Francis Xavier baptized hundreds of thousands of people during his time as a missionary in Asia. The relic is also considered to be partially incorrupt, which means that it has not decayed in an ordinary way.
Read more at Catholic News Agency.