Secularization (1782)
in The relic state
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The fourth chapter explores the ritual contours of Xavier’s “First Solemn Exposition” which was staged in 1782. It addresses the increasing "secularization" of Xavier as he becomes a symbol and agent of colonial state authority in the midst of escalated tensions between the Estado da Índia and the Society of Jesus operating in Goa, including parallel concerns over the physical deterioration of Xavier's corpse—its state of "desiccation"—, and which culminates in the expulsion of this religious order in 1759. The role of official and unofficial documentation in both serving and disrupting church and state doctrine is detailed. In many ways, these acts of communication—the bequeathing of titles, monies, and vestments, and the various prohibitions against opening Xavier's casket—are indexical of differing investments in the corpse of St. Francis Xavier on the part of colonial officials and Jesuit missionaries, as well as anxieties concerning their respective positions (and positionings) throughout the 18th century.

The relic state

St Francis Xavier and the politics of ritual in Portuguese India


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