Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Xavier I left on the cutting room floor

I confess: I became obsessed with Xavier. I collected more images than I felt I could use for my blog posts about him. For some I would have had to explore a much wider context than I intended; some had no attribution; and some I just didn’t know how to handle.

However, because of the interest among the CompaƱeros y compaƱeras, a group of former Jesuits, their wives and partners, to which I belong, I’ve created this page from what wound up on the cutting room floor.

The body of the saint.

I can only guess the purpose of this contraption —
perhaps it shelters the glass coffin in its procession from Bom Jesu to Se Cathedral.

Garry tells me this is the coffin that carried Xavier's body from Malacca back to Goa.

His right arm was detached in 1615 by order of Caludio Acquaviva, then the General of the Jesuits. Some men on the Companions list actually came into physical contact with the relic while they were in the Society. “The lore around it was how many Asians he had baptized with that arm.” –Gene Bianchi

“I consider it one of the most beautiful churches I have seen in Goa. Built in 1873, the shrine of the Nossa Senhora Mae de Deus was brought over from the ruins of the convent of Mae de Deus in Old Goa to Saligaon. Saligaon, sal means “wooded,” gaon means “village,” which translates to “village in forest,” is some 14 km’s away from Panjim, the capital of Goa.” —Anurag Jain, photographer

One of the extraordinary events, or tales, surrounding his travels. Artist not identified.

By whom? Possibly Br. Andrea Pozo, S.J.

San Bac: If you have any doubt about that Xavier was a saint of the Spanish-Portuguese, visit San Bac outside Tucson, geographically half a world and culturally light years away from Goa. I might have to build a case that the cultural artifacts of the missions signify more than simply artistic taste, but the evidence here is so astounding that I rest my case.

San Xavier del Bac Mission was founded by Father Eusebio Kino, S.J. in 1692. The pictures are of the newly restored sacred art in the old church, which was completed in 1797 after 15 years of construction, making it one of the oldest existent structures from the 17th century in the New World. I visited San Bac several times when my parents were living south of Tucson, and it is an extraordinary place.

The late Fr. Charlie W. Polzer, S.J., a friend of many of the Compas, wrote extensively on Kino. His last book was the 1987, Kino Guide II: A Life of Eusebio Francisco Kino, S.J., Arizona's First Pioneer and I Guide to His Missions & Monuments. Morgan also wrote a tribute to Charlie in Meanderings.

And finally, sometimes art just leaves you speechless! Even given the distance of time and place, cultural differences, what could have been going on in the mind of the artist in this pose? Samba, or, perhaps, the Bosa Nova. Not a bad idea, really, but not something that immediately pops into my mind when thinking about Xavier.