2000 Pilgrims Swarm to See St Francis Xavier's Relic at Toronto Church

Published 23 January 2018  |  
The forearm and hand of St. Francis Xavier is displayed. The relic will be touring 14 Canadian cities from Jan. 3 to Feb. 2, 2018.

About 2000 people visited a downtown Toronto church on Jan. 14 when the remains of a hand of St Francis Xavier were displayed.

Following a long line, people came to touch the glass-covered reliquary containing the forearm and hand of the 16th-century saint.

"This is so magical and so real that it confirms the beliefs that we grew up with," said Zeny Benedicto, 63-year-old, who works at a City of Toronto shelter for the homeless.

"It's a confirmation of the inner faith that kept my family together," added Benedicto, whose youngest son has been suffering a traumatic brain injury since birth.

According to Star, Lourdes' parish priest, Rev. John Sullivan, acknowledged that some might find the practice of revering body parts "strange."

"It's not a great comparison, but if you like baseball and you read about Babe Ruth and then you go to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown (N.Y.) and you see Babe Ruth's bat — just being in the physical presence of it, even though you knew it was always true, makes it more real," said Sullivan.

The Roman Catholic Church considers the withered right forearm of Xavier as "incorrupt," because it hasn't undergone natural decomposition.

"It's pretty corrupted for an incorruptible relic," said Sullivan.

For some, even the sight of the relic would rekindle faith.

Lorenzo Ruiz, a 59-year-old chemist from Toronto, said sex abuse scandals have rocked the church. He hoped this event would rekindle the faith of the attendees.

"I'm trying to find again my faith, literally. I was born a Roman Catholic. But along the way, you stray," said Ruiz.

For him, viewing the relic made a difference.

"You feel something. I cannot describe what I felt. It's something different. We'll see," he added.


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