To maximize the holidays after December 25, 2003 and before December 31, 2003 I flew to Goa.

Goa’s history stretches  back to the third (3rd) century BC when it formed part of the Mauryan Empire. Later it was ruled  by the Satavahanas of Kolhapur and eventually passed to the Chalukyans   of Badami control from AD 580-750.

Goa fell to the Muslims for the first time in 1312, but the invaders were forced  out in 1370 by Harihara I of the  Vijayanagar empire, whose capital was at Hampi.

During the next 100 years Goa harbors were important landing places for ships carrying Arabian horses to Hampi to strengthen  the Vijayanagar cavalry.

Jesuit missionaries  led by St. Francis Xavier  arrived in 1542. For a while, Portuguese control  was limited to a small area around Old Goa, but by the middle of the 16th century it had expanded to include the provinces of Bardez and Salcete.

Fortunes made from the spice trade led to Goa’s golden age. The colony became  a viceregal seat of the Portuguese empire. But competition from the British, French and Dutch in the 17th century led to decline.

The Marathas almost vanquished  the Portuguese in the late    18th century and there  was a brief occupation by the British during the Napoleonic Wars in Europe. It was in 1961  when they were ejected by India.

It was divided into North and South Goa. North Goa has the state capital, Panaji; the former capital of Old Goa, with its fascinating churches  and cathedrals, and a string of beaches running right up the coast to Maharashtra.

Old Goa  is  9km  east of Panaji with half a dozen imposing churches and cathedrals (among the largest in Asia).

I firstly visited Se Cathedral which is the largest. It was begun in 1562 during the reign of King Dom Sebastiao (1557-58). It was completed by 1619 although the altars were not finished until 1652. The cathedral was built for the Dominicans  and paid  for by the sale of crown property.

I visited also the Convent and Church of St. Francis  of   Assisi. Thereafter, I visited  the Basilica of Born Jesus which contains the tomb and mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier  who in 1541 was given the task of spreading Christianity  among the subjects of the Portuguese colonies in the east.

St. Francis Xavier spent ten (10) years as  missionary in South-East Asia. His death on December 2,  1552 gave rise to his greatest influence  on the region.

He died on the island of  Sancian, off the cost of China. A servant is said to have  emptied four sacks of quicklime into his coffin to consume his flesh. Two months  passed by  when the body was transferred to Malacca. It was observed to be still in perfect condition.

It was only in 1622 during his canonization that the body started to decompose. In 1614,  the right arm was removed and divided  between the Jesuits in Japan and Rome, and by 1636, parts of one shoulder blade and all the internal organs  has been scattered  throughout South-East Asia .

In the 17th century, the body was highly decomposed. The Jesuits decided to enclose   the corpse in a glass coffin out of view. It was in the mid-19th century   that the current cycle  of 10 yearly expositions began.

For a souvenir, I bought   candle in the shape of a body, head, arms and legs. Unfortunately,  everything disintegrated when I arrived in the Philippines because of the rigors of travels.

I visited the Churches of St. Cajetan and St. Monica.

Thank you Lord for this trip.

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