Latest News

St Francis Xavier’s arm gets own plane seat for Canada tour

St Francis Xavier’s severed right forearm and hand will embark on a month-long tour of Canada in the New Year.

The relic, which is usually displayed in a side-chapel in the Gesù church in Rome, will travel to Ottawa on January 3 before touring 14 cities across the country.

Speaking on CBC Radio, Angèle Regnier, the co-founder of Ottawa’s Catholic Christian Outreach, who will accompany the arm during its tour, joked that the experience will be like “doing a road trip with a friend”.

“I mean, I know it’s bones, but connected to that is a living friendship with St Francis Xavier,” she said. “I’m sure there’ll be a lot of interesting conversations as we go around.”

The saint’s arm will also need its own seat on the flights, Regnier added. “We can’t put it underneath. We can’t even put it in the overhead bins. He has to have his own seat,” she said.

“You’re trying to explain this to Air Canada. We need to book a seat. He is a person in a way, but it’s not a person, it’s an arm.”

St Francis Xavier is best known for his work evangelising various places in Asia, such as Japan and China. Various accounts say he personally baptised between 100,000 and 700,000 people, such that “sometimes, by the bare fatigue of administering that sacrament, he was scarce able to move his arm.”

After his death, his body was laid to rest in Goa, India, but the Jesuit superior general at the time wanted his right forearm and hand – which performed so many baptisms – brought back to Rome as a relic.

Organisers expect the tour to draw thousands of pilgrims.

“It’s quite a production,” Regnier said. “We want to touch most of Canada with it.”

The dates are:

January 3 – Chapelle des Jésuites, Quebec City

January 5 – Cathedral of St John the Baptist, St John’s, Newfoundland

January 7 – St Mary’s Cathedral, Halifax, Nova Scotia

January 8 – St Francis Xavier University, Antigonish, Nova Scotia

January 10 – St Mary’s Cathedral, Kingston, Ontario

January 12 – St Michael’s Cathedral, Toronto, Ontario

January 13 – St Francis Xavier Church, Mississauga, Ontario

January 14 – Church of Our Lady of Lourdes, Toronto, Ontario

January 16 – St Mary’s Cathedral, Winnipeg, Manitoba

January 18 – Holy Family Cathedral, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

January 19 – TBA, Regina, Saskatchewan

January 20 – Resurrection parish, Regina, Saskatchewan

January 21 – Sacred Heart Church, Calgary, Alberta

January 22 – St Michael’s Catholic Community, Calgary, Alberta

January 24 – St Francis Xavier Parish, Vancouver, British Columbia

January 25 – All Saints Parish, Vancouver, British Columbia

January 27 – St Andrew’s Cathedral, Victoria, British Columbia

January 28-29 – Mary Queen of the World Cathedral, Montreal, Quebec

January 30 – TBA, Montreal, Quebec

February 2 – St Patrick’s Basilica, Ottawa, Ontario

February 2 – Notre Dame Cathedral, Ottawa, Ontario