Resurrection (1859)
in The relic state
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Ritual practice in 1859 continued the Portuguese pattern of staging "Solemn Expositions" that had been initiated in 1782 amidst circulating rumours that Xavier's corpse had been removed by members of the Society of Jesus in the aftermath of their expulsion from Goa in 1759. However, seventy-seven years later, ritual was no longer about securing this saint's location in Goa—the keys to his casket that had been so carefully guarded throughout the 18th century first by the Jesuits and then by colonial officials were now inexplicably lost and the "management" of his corpse less a concern for the Estado da Índia, which was now experiencing even more acutely its own precarious position in Goa. The fifth chapter explores the ritual dimensions of the "Second Solemn Exposition" of 1859 that was staged in the face of a ruinous state that was increasingly uncertain about the longevity of its colonial rule given the dominating and competing presence of the British in India, and their slow but steady encroachment upon this Portuguese colony throughout the 19th century.

The relic state

St Francis Xavier and the politics of ritual in Portuguese India


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