Photographer's Note

[Continuing the short journey into Malacca's historical past...]

Just outside the ruins of St Paul’s Church stands a statue of St Francis Xavier. It was the Bishop of Macau who decided to have the statue erected. Completed in 1952, it is of white carrara marble sculptured by Italian sculptor G. Toni, and put up in time for the 4th centenary celebrations on 22 March 1953.

St Francis Xavier (1506-1552) - A founding member of an association which, in 1543, was recognized by Pope Paul III as the Jesuit Order. In 1541, Xavier first sat sail from Portugal for Goa, India where he did missionary work; then to Malacca in 1545, the Molucca Islands in 1546, Malacca again in 1547, and Japan in 1549. Using Goa as the base for his missionary work in the Far East, he was said to have visited Malacca no less than on 5 occasions.

Having heard much about the Celestial Empire, Xavier set off from Goa in April 1552 for China, arriving on Shangchuan Island, 14km from the mainland. While making arrangement to travel to mainland China, he took ill and died on 2 December 1552. His remains, preserved in lime, were taken first to Malacca and later to his final resting place in Goa.

Church records show that in 1614, Xavier’s right forearm, which he used to bless and baptize his converts, was detached and taken to Rome. Amazingly, it still dripped blood although he had been interred for 62 years. (The severed arm is on display at the Church of the Gesù, the mother church of the Jesuits.)

On 22 May 1622, Francis Xavier was canonized with Ignatius Loyola, who was called home to be with the Lord in 1566.

Postscript: The statue of St Francis Xavier has a missing right hand. The story goes that a day after the statue was consecrated, a branch from a casuarina tree fell and broke it. Coincidence? Or was it he Saint's attempt to put things into the correct perspective?

BTW, during my school days, we covered the history of Malacca, albeit that we focused on key dates, brief facts, etc. Not as fascinating and interesting as the things I learned as I gathered materials from the web for this posting. Back then, of course, we didn't have the Internet.

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Additional Photos by Steven Yong (Across_Asia) Silver Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 13 W: 0 N: 75] (344)
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