A team from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) will Thursday begin restoration work on the four-century-old casket containing the remains of St Francis Xavier, one of the founders of the Jesuit order, at the Basilica of Bom Jesus in Old Goa, the church officials said.
The remains of the Spanish saint is one of the biggest attractions at the Basilica of Bom Jesus in Old Goa, visited by devotees and tourists from across the world, and the church will otherwise remain open for the period the work is in progress.
The space will see scaffolding only for Thursday as the team from ASI’s Chemical Branch from Aurangabad begins work on the casket, with the remains to be placed in another silver case and placed in the high altar at the mausoleum as work on the casket continues.
“We see at least a month of work,” confirmed Fr Patricio Fernandes, the Rector of the Basilica of Bom Jesus. “The casket is of two parts. In 1624, the body of the saint was brought from St Paul’s Church (then Portugese Malacca) to Basilica of Bom Jesus. Then later in 1635, Fr Marcello Mastrilli, an Italian Jesuit priest who believed it was Saint Xavier that saved him, decided to procure an upper part for the casket. He was on his way to Japan then and he did it to make it much more solemn, give it more weight,” said Fr Patricio Fernandes.
In 2018, it was a three-member team from “Opificio delle Pietre Dure e Laboratori di Restauro di Firenze” that flagged the need for urgent repair of the casket. Having done such restoration, the restoration laboratory in Italy’s Florence offered the service free.
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