Novenas and the Feast of St. Francis Xavier: How it all came into existence

9 day Novenas held for the feast of St. Francis Xavier from 24th November, culminates on the 3rd of December, the Feast Day.

The story behind the ‘Novena of Grace’ dates back to December 1633. It began on March 4th that year and ended on the 12th, the day of the canonization of St. Francis Xavier. In December 1633, Father Marcello Mastrilli, S.J. was at the point of death, at Naples. The Saint appeared to him requesting him to renew a vow he had made to labour in Japan, that said:

PROMISE: “All those who implore my help daily for nine consecutive days, from the 4th to the 12th of March included, and worthily receive the Sacraments of Penance and the Holy Eucharist on one of the nine days, will experience my protection and may hope with entire assurance to obtain from God any grace they ask for the good of their souls and the glory of God.”

The priest arose, cured at once. Saint Francis Xavier kept this promise and this devotion in his honour which became universally known as the ‘Novena of Grace’. As a matter of fact, the effect of the novena is not powerful only on the dates mentioned. Therefore, it may be made very appropriately held from November 24 – December 3, the Feast of St. Francis Xavier.


The theme of the novenas this year is :

‘By faith, like St Francis Xavier, to life in abundance’.

Novenas at the St. Francis Xavier Church in Old Goa commenced from 24th November continuing till the 2nd of December. The Feast of Goa’s patron Saint will be celebrated on the 3rd of December 2016 at the former capital of Goa.

Many devotees from across the world come to Goa to attend the novenas and the feast of St.Francis Xavier. Arrangements for special ‘pendals’ made outside the Basilica of Bom Jesus seat the devotees attending the novenas. Countless number of people attend the novenas annually. Some families come from far-off places. Unable to afford travel to and from the venue daily, they carry basic requirements like blankets and food and sleep outside the premises at Old Goa and attending the eucharistic service daily.

All the masses will be in Konkani except the evening mass at 6.15pm in English. And an evocative programme ‘Deepening your faith with St Francis Xavier’ will take place during the novenas, till December 1, held for 15 minutes after the 6.15pm English mass.

The daily novena masses will be celebrated till December 2.

  • At 6am, 7.15am, 8.15am, 9.30am, 10.30am, 3.45pm, 5.15pm and 6.15pm(English).
  • On Sunday, November 25, the 11.30am mass will be in Tamil, 12.30pm in Malayalam and 2.30pm in Hindi.
  • On November 30, a mass in Portuguese will be celebrated at 11.30am.
  • The Marathi masses on December 1 and 2 will be at 11.30am.
  • On the feast day, December 3, a Spanish mass will be celebrated at 3pm.

A special ‘healing of the sick’ will be held on November 26 during the 3.45pm mass.

On the feast day, morning masses will be celebrated at 4am, 5am, 6am, 7am, 8am and 9am. The feast high mass at 10.30am will be con-celebrated by main celebrant, Bishop Anil Couto and also Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrao, Archbishop Emeritus Raul Gonsalves and Bishop of Sindhudurg Allwyn Barreto.

Celebrating one mass at 12.30pm, and other masses through the day scheduled at :

  • 3pm (in Spanish) 
  • 4pm and 5pm (Konkani)
  • 6pm (English)


Now-a-days, the 9 days o also has a fair with plenty of stalls lining the entire road leading to the church. The fair draws people of all ages even little children.

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2 thoughts on “Novenas and the Feast of St. Francis Xavier: How it all came into existence”

  1. thnx 4 novena schedule of St Francis Xavier, Patron st of Goa. I hope d organising committee should give wide publicity of st Framcis Novena n Feast in Spain , Portugal , France, Brazil , Argentina n other Catholic populated Countries.

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