Feastday: October 18 Patron Physicians and Surgeons
Luke, the writer of the Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles, has been identified with St. Paul's "Luke, the beloved physician" (Colossians 4:14). We know few other facts about Luke's life from Scripture and from early Church historians.
It is believed that Luke was born a Greek and a Gentile. In Colossians 10-14 speaks of those friends who are with him. He first mentions all those "of the circumcision" -- in other words, Jews -- and he does not include Luke in this group. Luke's gospel shows special sensitivity to evangelizing Gentiles. It is only in his gospel that we hear the parable of the Good Samaritan, that we hear Jesus praising the faith of Gentiles such as the widow of Zarephath and Naaman the Syrian (Lk.4:25-27), and that we hear the story of the one grateful leper who is a Samaritan (Lk.17:11-19). According to the early Church historian Eusebius Luke was born at Antioch in Syria.
In our day, it would be easy to assume that someone who was a doctor was rich, but scholars have argued that Luke might have been born a slave. It was not uncommon for families to educate slaves in medicine so that they would have a resident family physician. Not only do we have Paul's word, but Eusebius, Saint Jerome, Saint Irenaeus and Caius, a second-century writer, all refer to Luke as a physician.
We have to go to Acts to follow the trail of Luke's Christian ministry. We know nothing about his conversion but looking at the language of Acts we can see where he joined Saint Paul. The story of the Acts is written in the third person, as an historian recording facts, up until the sixteenth chapter. In Acts 16:8-9 we hear of Paul's company "So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. During the night Paul had a vision: there stood a man of Macedonia pleading with him and saying, 'Come over to Macedonia and help us.' " Then suddenly in 16:10 "they" becomes "we": "When he had seen the vision, we immediately tried to cross over to Macedonia, being convinced that God had called us to proclaim the good news to them."
So Luke first joined Paul's company at Troas at about the year 51 and accompanied him into Macedonia where they traveled first to Samothrace, Neapolis, and finally Philippi. Luke then switches back to the third person which seems to indicate he was not thrown into prison with Paul and that when Paul left Philippi Luke stayed behind to encourage the Church there. Seven years passed before Paul returned to the area on his third missionary journey. In Acts 20:5, the switch to "we" tells us that Luke has left Philippi to rejoin Paul in Troas in 58 where they first met up. They traveled together through Miletus, Tyre, Caesarea, to Jerusalem.
Luke is the loyal comrade who stays with Paul when he is imprisoned in Rome about the year 61: "Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends greetings to you, and so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers" (Philemon 24). And after everyone else deserts Paul in his final imprisonment and sufferings, it is Luke who remains with Paul to the end: "Only Luke is with me" (2 Timothy 4:11).
Luke's inspiration and information for his Gospel and Acts came from his close association with Paul and his companions as he explains in his introduction to the Gospel: "Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus" (Luke 1:1-3).
Luke's unique perspective on Jesus can be seen in the six miracles and eighteen parables not found in the other gospels. Luke's is the gospel of the poor and of social justice. He is the one who tells the story of Lazarus and the Rich Man who ignored him. Luke is the one who uses "Blessed are the poor" instead of "Blessed are the poor in spirit" in the beatitudes. Only in Luke's gospel do we hear Mary 's Magnificat where she proclaims that God "has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty" (Luke 1:52-53).
Luke also has a special connection with the women in Jesus' life, especially Mary. It is only in Luke's gospel that we hear the story of the Annunciation, Mary's visit to Elizabeth including the Magnificat, the Presentation, and the story of Jesus' disappearance in Jerusalem. It is Luke that we have to thank for the Scriptural parts of the Hail Mary: "Hail Mary full of grace" spoken at the Annunciation and "Blessed are you and blessed is the fruit of your womb Jesus" spoken by her cousin Elizabeth.
Forgiveness and God's mercy to sinners is also of first importance to Luke. Only in Luke do we hear the story of the Prodigal Son welcomed back by the overjoyed father. Only in Luke do we hear the story of the forgiven woman disrupting the feast by washing Jesus' feet with her tears. Throughout Luke's gospel, Jesus takes the side of the sinner who wants to return to God's mercy.
Reading Luke's gospel gives a good idea of his character as one who loved the poor, who wanted the door to God's kingdom opened to all, who respected women, and who saw hope in God's mercy for everyone.
The reports of Luke's life after Paul's death are conflicting. Some early writers claim he was martyred, others say he lived a long life. Some say he preached in Greece, others in Gaul. The earliest tradition we have says that he died at 84 Boeotia after settling in Greece to write his Gospel.
A tradition that Luke was a painter seems to have no basis in fact. Several images of Mary appeared in later centuries claiming him as a painter but these claims were proved false. Because of this tradition, however, he is considered a patron of painters of pictures and is often portrayed as painting pictures of Mary.
He is often shown with an ox or a calf because these are the symbols of sacrifice -- the sacrifice Jesus made for all the world.
Luke is the patron of physicians and surgeons.
Saint Francis Xavier
Feastday: December 3
St. Francis Xavier was born in Spain at the Xavier castle on 8th April 1506. He was affectionately called " JASSU ". After completion of preparatory studies in Spain, he joined the world renowned University of Paris. The ambitious plans of his dreams to shine in the world over as one of the most intellectual luminaries were thwarted by the famous words of Jesus " what does it profit a man to gain the whole world if he looses his own soul? " repeatedly sounded into his ears by Ignatius de Loyola, one in all his room-mate, his friend, his disciple.
Once Francis Xavier was ordained as a priest along with Ignatius de Loyola and four others, they together formed a Society of Jesus. They served Jesus in poverty and chastity. They preached and nursed the sick in the city. From Rome, through Lisbon, at the request of king of Portugal, D,Joao III , chosen to go to remote East
and nominated as Pontifical Nuncio by Pope Paul III himself, Francis Xavier representing the Jesuits, landed in Goa, known as Rome of East wherein he preferred the Royal Hospital as his residence and spent his days nursing the sick and teaching them Christian doctrine. In the college of St. Paul , Francis Xavier was both Rector and Professor (Padre Mestre). He taught herein seminarians, natives of different parts of Asia, and some of them later on, fruitfully preached the Gospel to their brethren in local languages. He himself was however longing to reach out to the distant souls who never had a chance to listen to the message of Jesus. As such he came to be known as a "traveling Priest" .
Much before he traveled to Japan, he studied Japanese people and their religion. As he landed in Japan he learnt their language and summarized Christian doctrine in Japanese language. Latter on, King of Bungo, at Japanese island, appreciated Christian doctrine so much so that abandoned his bonges and favored Francis as well his friends. Francis Xavier knew went to be firm and stern, specially to men in power, and tactfully he managed to set right the irregularities created in his absence by the substitute Rector, Fr. Antonio Gomes, that is much against the disciple of the Society of Jesus, indigenous boys were expelled from the seminary and were replace by the European youth. Also some European boys with out proper instruction and education were absorbed in the Society of Jesus. Francis Xavier dismissed Fr. Gomes of the onus of Rector and expelled him from the Society. And Fr. Gasper Barzen was nominated as Rector. The college of St. Paul in Goa under the new Rector and his successors, little by little controlled 300 colleges with churches in different parts of Asia.
Whichever mission he went to he organized the missionary work with great zeal. He was as such, respected as a saintly priest, besides in his missionary life, he cured dumb, he cured deaf, he even resuscitated people and once also levitated himself whilst distributing communion in the college of Goa. After this last visit to Goa, to Cochin and Malacca missions, on his way to China he was held up on the island of Sancian due to fever. He was there surrounded by two lone people, the Indian servant Cristovao and a Chinese Antonio de Santa Fe who sensing the life-death situation of Padre Mestre placed a crucifix into the hands of dying Francis Xavier . There was no food, no medicine. Early in the morning of 3rd December , 1552 Francis Xavier closed his eyes forever in grace of Christ in a very modest hut of branches and mud lumps.
The zeal of evangelization and arduous ship journeys had exhausted him and consumed him at the young age of 46. He was buried in Sancian island in a wooden coffin as they used to do in China. Pope Paul VI beatified him and after a careful study of his life and his apostolate, he was canonized by Pope Gregory XV on March 22nd, 1622. Francis Xavier was however, accepted as a saint in his lifetime itself. He was looked upon as glorious. In those days there was a great craze for relics. Everyone wanted to possess relics which were supposed to be the link between mortals and the supernatural so that several benefits would accrue to the owner of relics. As such several people took pieces of the body or vestments of the saint. During the very first exposition one person bit off the fifth toe of right foot and took it as relic.
Prime Minister of Marques de Pombal during the kingdom of Dom Jose I expelled the Jesuits and Bom Jesus church along with the Casa Professa and body of the saint were controlled by the Archbishop. There was fear that after the exit of Jesuits, the duplicate keys of the coffin circulating among those staying in the Casa Professa could be utilized to open the coffin and more pieces of the body could have been removed as relics. There was charge against the Jesuits that the body of the saint was no longer in Goa or that it had been replaced with another body. So on February 10th to 12th of the year 1782 exposition was held with the main reason of conducting a physical verification of the body in order to discard the rumor that the body of the saint had been carried away by the Jesuits and the body of the deceased canon Antonio Gomes had been placed in the coffin.
The medical examination prior to the exposition and subsequent medical examinations demonstrated the authenticity of body of saint among other details, absence of right toe and absence of right arm. The right arm was sent to Rome and the last toe of the right foot has been missing since it was bitten off during the very first exposition. He was buried in three different countries having different climates and soil structures. The body defied decomposition and putrefactions and also throughout the historical reports, it was never recorded that the body was embalmed or that the body was decomposed or that foul smell was emanating from the body. Thus body defied the normal destiny of the mortals throughout the centuries and not yet rumbled into dust.
The present Archbishop Raul Gonsalves then acting as apostolic administrator of archdiocese of Goa and Daman expressed on the occasion of exposition held from 23rd November 1974 to 5th January 1975, that " we cannot talk presently about an incorrupt body but only of sacred relic of St. Francis Xavier. Francis Xavier while living had requested that after his death the remains were to be transferred to Goa.
For most people Goa is paradise. The south-western coast of India has the lushest and most exuberant landscape in the subcontinent. Its undulating terrain is covered with areas of rich red earth, coconut palms, elegant whitewashed houses with sloping tiled roofs, golden beaches, and sparkling waters. Goa's deep waters and calm beaches once provided some of the most accessible harbours on India 's western coast. Historic evidence proclaims that this region was prosperous from the time of the Mauryan empire. After the third century BC many kingdoms sought to control its tranquil waters. At the coast of untold barbarous bloodshed, east-west trade brought enormous revenue and power.
Peter Paul Rubens highlights the stories of Xavier’s miracles, grouping a number of persons raised from the dead with others healed of physical and spiritual afflictions. This painting, now in Vienna, was originally commissioned by the Jesuits for their church in Antwerp.
In the medieval period the Khaljis and later the Tughluqs captured portions of Goa and the Konkan. In the fourteenth century it became yet another target of rivalry between the Hindu Vijayanagar rulers of the Karanatka area and the Muslim Bahamani kings of Bijapur, Gulbarga , and Bidar. In the fifteenth century what happened in Goa was linked to the history of the Mediterranean world when Potugal, led by its well-known explorers, established a long-lasting overseas empire. Trade in gold and spices, and other natural resources, were exchanged for the much-coveted Arabian horse that furnished the armies of the Indian subcontinent (where the humble Kathiawar pony was the only indigenous breed).
The traditional controllers of these trade routes were the Arabs. The Portuguese, like many other foreign colonizers, played the inevitable game of power politics, supporting one side against the other till they virtually controlled the region and paved the way for Mediterranean merchants to make their appearance on Indian soil.
It was also from the Arabs that the Portuguese inherited their maps and navigational information. In 1497, Vasco da Gama sailed from Portugal along the African coast, across the Indian Ocean and eventually landed at Calicut in Kerala. Along the west coast of India in Calicut , Cochin , and Canannore the Portuguese began to establish their Soverignty, upturning old trade alliances and forging new ones. When Vasco da Gama returned home in 1502 he left behind a fleet of patrol ships under the command of Alfonso de Albuquerque to guard the coast. In 1510 Albuquerque captured Goa from the Sultan of Bijapur and made it the capital of the Portuguese eastern empire. The new rulers were quick in establishing their distinctive culture in the region. Homes, administrative units, and churches were built and, in a unique attempt to assemble a corpus of loyal subjects, the Portuguese were encouraged to marry girls from aristocratic Goan families. The experiment proved successful and the colony remained for 450 years under Portuguese rule, outlasting all other colonial powers in the region.
This painting, done in the style of Jesuit brother and artist Andrea Pozzo, imagines the scene where two saints, friends, part ways to pursue their own missions: Ignatius the administrator sends Francis to bring the Gospel to unknown lands.
As a memorial and in thanksgiving for the significant victory won on 25 November 1510, St. Catherine's day, Albuquerque laid the nucleus of a Christian center, now referred to as Velha Goa.
Just ten kilometer from Panjim, the modern capital of Goa , lies Velha Goa. A new Christain township was built over the remains of the second capital of Adil Shah (the sultan of Bikapur) beside the Mandovi river. The road from Panjim enters the complex from the west and leads to a central square from which you can visit the historical buildings at a leisurely pace. At the north western tip of the complex is the Chapel of St. Catherine erected by Albuquerque after his defeat of the Bijapur forces in 1510. The original construction has undergone numerous changes and has been rebuilt several times. Beside it is the Convent and Church of St. Francis of Assisi built of local laterite stone and clothed in white plaster to protect the porous stone from the heavy tropical monsoons rains. The convent is entered through a narrow passage which leads into a beautiful enclosed courtyard and internal garden surrounded by cloisters. Part of the convent has been converted into the Archaeological Museum and has an interesting collection: there are statues and idols of the Hindu period, portraits of Vasco da Gama, Alfonso de Albuquerque, and other governors of the province. Paintings, coat of arms, sculptures, armoury, coins, maps and medals capture some of the drama of the events that make up the history of Goa .
The Church of St. Francis of Assisi was built around 1661 and is a classic example of contemporary architectural styles. The Church faces west and has an impressive fa?ade off three storeys. The building is rectangular in shape with a central nave and ancillary chapels on either side. Part of the barrel roof is adorned by wooden panels profusely painted with flower patterns that appear to be the work of Indian artists under Portuguese direction. The high altar, on the eastern side, is richly decorated with gilded wooden pillars, ornamental motifs, and at the center is the crucifix with the kneeling figure of St. Francis below worshiping Jesus. On the altar appear the words poverty, Humility, and Obedience which spell out the three vows taken by monks who join the Franciscan ordered founded by St. Francis of Assisi .
This engraving by Hieronymus Wierix captures Francis Xavier’s mystical union with God in the words, “It is enough, O Lord, it is enough!”
The Se Cathedral is the largest of this group (76.2 meters long, 55.16 meters wide) and was designed to be the most imposing cathedral of the Portuguese empire in the east. Building construction (by the Portuguese government for the Dominican monks) began around 1562 and took nearly a century to complete, with funds coming in from native sources. The cathedral is roughly cruciform in shape with a central nave, side aisles with eight chapels and six side altars along the transept, and the supreme altar at the center. The fa?ade and profile of the cathedral are dramatic, painted white with a series of arches and windows that introduce a shadowy play of light. Two towers were built to frame the cathedral entrance but one fell, struck down by lighting in 1776, and was never rebuilt. The interior of the cathedral is as dramatic as the external proportions. The cool, pure white walls are adorned with elaborate paintings, wooden screens and carvings and the chapels, altars, and ornamental pulpits. The cathedral is dedicated to St. Catherine of Alexandria and the principal after in three storeys has opulent panels depicting her life and martyrdom.
The Basilica of Boom Jesus (literally Good Jesus), where the imperishable body of St. Francis Xavier is laid in state, was built in 1560 though rebuilt in the eighteenth century after an accidental fire. The building has one of the nicest facades in Velha Goa, made of red laterite stone from which the protective plaster has been removed. It consists of three storeys, the lowest one with three entrances into the nave and aisles of the church, the middle one with rectangular windows, and the top one with circular port windows. To crown the Basilica are arabesque design culminating on a central hallo carried by a circle of angles inscribed with IHS (one translation is Iaeus Hominum Salvator, Jesus, Survivor of Mankind). The interior of the basilica is plain, with commemorative plaques and statues. On the left is a sensitively carved wooden figure of St. Francis Xavier adoring the crucifix of Jesus. Completely overpowering the silent interiors is the exuberant baroque alter at the center of the eastern side. The alter rises up to the vaulted roof from the sacred table on magnificent twisted gilt columns. Between them is farmed the figure of St. Ignatius Loyola who looks up in adoration at the sun-like halo inscribed with IHS and to the scene above, the line of angles singing in praise of God Almighty, his son Jesus Chirst, and the holy spirit.
On the southern side of the transept is the glorious sarcophagi and tomb room of St. Francis Xavier. Born to a noble family of the castle of Xavier , on 7 April 1506 in Spain , St. Francis became a pupil of St. Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuit order (That has since earned great respect for it's well-run educational instituions established throughout India ). In 1542, St. Francis Xavier was granted permission to work in the East and came to Goa where he spend years tending to the sick and the suffering. He went further east to Malacca , Japan , and in 1552, while returning from there, fell ill and died at the age of forty-six. His body was buried in Sancian, off the coast of China , but when the tomb was opened it was noticed that it had not decomposed in any way.
In 1613, St. Francis Xavier's body was transferred to Goa ; after his canonization in 1622 it was kept in state in the Basilica of Bom Jesus. The tomb was a gift of the Grand Duke Cosmos III of Tuscany and was erected in 1698. The rectangular red jasper base is surmounted with marble and bronze plaques narrating the life of service of St. Francis Xavier. The silver reliquary casket is elaborately carved and, after several mutilations, the body of the saint is only exposed to the public once every ten years.
Xavier (right) and Ignatius (left) are joined by two young Jesuit saints: the noble Italian Aloysius Gonzaga (second) was a theology student when he died after ministering to plague victims in Rome; Stanislaus Kostka (third), a Pole of noble birth, died as a Jesuit novice.
On the hill west of Bom Jesus is another cluster of monuments. The Church and Convent of St. Monica is one of the oldest and largest convents for nuns in Asia and was completed in 1627. It still serves as the Mater Dei Institute for Nuns. Next to it is the Convent of St. John founded for the order who care for the sick. The Church of St. Augustine , now in ruins, was once the largest edifice in Velha Goa, built in Gothic style, but only a portion of its dramatic 46 meters tower remains. At the age of the holy hill, commanding a wonderful view is the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary. The cenotaph to the eight of the main altar belongs to Dona Catarina who was married to Viceroy Gracia De Sa at a ceremony performed by St. Francis Xavier. This votive chalel was built as an act of thanksgiving by Alfonso de Albuquerque who had watched from this veru spot his forces battling triumphantly against the Sultan of Bijapur.
To the north-east of the Se Cathedral are several other monuments, the oldest being the Gate of the Palace of Adil Shah, near the magnificent fa?ade of theChurch of St. Cajetan. The ruined gateway is made of beautiful hardy basalt brought all the way from Bassein. As part of the entrance to the palace of Adil Shah, which can only be reconstructed from literary references left by early travelers, one can assume that it must have been an imposing structure of grand dimensions. The main northward road, in front of the Church of St. Cajetan , leads to the Mandovi river and marks the ceremonial gateway to the old township from the waterfront. The arch is built out of laterite and granite, and has suffered many attempts at reconstruction. A figure of Vasco da Gama stands in the central niche announcing the foundation of a great Portuguese province, where one ships from the far corners of the world brought thousands of merchants and luxurious goods to the shores of Goa .
• What's in the neighbourhood
Jakob Potma’s 1694 mural in the Jesuit church in Mindelheim, Germany, depicts Xavier’s dream of carrying an Indian on his back; in his missionary fervor he willingly accepted this symbolic burden. The Native American headdress appears in a number of depictions of the missionary Xavier, perhaps the result of confusion about the term “Indian.”
Traditional Goan architecture is very Charming and anywhere you go you will see the bright tiled houses, mica windows, and delightful little gardens. Panjim is a lovely town, where the sea meets the Mandovi river. The harbour hilltop view of the river, gardens and the Church of our Lady of the Immaculate Conception are the highlight of this capital city of Goa . From Panjim a number of day trips can be made, besides routine visits to the beaches. Aguada, 18 kilometers from Panjim, has one of the oldest forts in Goa , a beautiful whitewashed turret lighthouse, and wonderful (through crowded) beach. Velha Goa or Old Goa, described above, is approximately 10 kilometers away and well-connected by road and bus links, and conducted tours. Goa Velha or Pilar, about 11 kilometers south-east of Panjim, is another Christian settlement built over the ruins of the ancient city of Gopakkapattana . Pilar Monastery, St. Andrew's Church, and the scenic view of the harbour and Zuari river are all worth a visit. The singular influence of Portuguese art on Hindu architecture can be seen at the famous site of Shri Mahalsa at Mardol (7 kilometers from Ponda, 30 kilometers from Panjim), the Shri Mangesh Temple at Priol (22 kilometers from Panjim), where the temples have slanting tiled roofs like the houses of old, European ornamentation, and tall unusual towers that mark the entrance of the temple.
Since many have requested by emails and through phone the details and prayers of St. Philomena, the same link is given below, you may click St. Philomena