Pamila Gupta
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Canonization (1624)
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In 1624 the Estado da Índia and the Society of Jesus jointly staged a reception to honour Francis Xavier's recent papal canonization (1622), a celebration that was markedly different from the small reception held in 1554 to honour the arrival of his "incorrupt" corpse in Goa from Sancian via Malacca. The third chapter develops a discourse and materiality of Goa Dourada by situating the eyewitness testimonies of two ritual participants (one Italian, the other Portuguese) within a larger historical context, as well as those of a multitude of European travellers who flocked to Portuguese India, often described as a "Rome in India" throughout the seventeenth century, Xavier's "miraculous" corpse a recently featured attraction. The focus is on how ritualization provides an arena in which colonial and Jesuit officials promote their respective and collective strengths through the success of Xavier's canonization. However, because of the colonial state's increasingly evident decline, ritual simultaneously serves as a point of distraction from its visible signs of decline, decadence and decay. The spectacle of canonization then turns the focus away from this saint’s corporeality towards his accoutrements in much the same manner that Goa itself had been "dressed up" for this special occasion.

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The relic state

St Francis Xavier and the politics of ritual in Portuguese India


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