A tour which might be seen as somewhat bizarre to non-Catholics is set to descend on the Gippsland area in October.
The right forearm of a famous saint will be touring Australia from September 16 to December 4 as part of the church’s Year of Grace Celebrations, and will be in the Sale Diocese from October 5 to 7.
An article in the latest issue of Catholic Life by former Gippsland Times editor Colin Coomber outlines how the forearm is “especially significant because it was the arm with which St Francis Xavier blessed and baptised countless people during his lifetime”.
Among other achievements, the saint brought Christianity to various islands which are now part of the Philippines, Indonesia and Japan and died in 1552.
The article describes how he was initially buried on a beach but his body was exhumed and in 1614, the article says, “the right forearm was detached from the incorrupt body and taken to Rome where it has been displayed in a silver reliquary at the main Jesuit church”.
The forearm will tour around Gippsland from October 5 to 7, stopping for Masses and prayers in a number of parishes.
Guards of honour will line the road and entrance to each stop in the diocese.
In Sale there will be an afternoon Mass and, Catholic Life reports, an opportunity for “quiet time with the relic”.