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St Francis Xavier and the politics of ritual in Portuguese India
Author: Pamila Gupta

This book is a study of the complex nature of colonial and missionary power in Portuguese India. Written as a historical ethnography, it explores the evolving shape of a series of Catholic festivals that took place in Goa throughout the duration of Portuguese colonial rule in India (1510-1961), and for which the centrepiece was the “incorrupt” corpse of São Francisco Xavier, a (Spanish Basque) Jesuit missionary (1506–1552)-turned-saint (1622). Using distinct genres of source materials produced over the long duree of Portuguese colonialism in India (Xaverian biographies, European travelogues, royal decrees and Jesuit letters, a state commissioned book dedicated to Xavier, Goa guidebooks, newspaper articles, and medical reports), the book documents the historical and visual transformation of Xavier’s corporeal ritualization in death from a small-scale religious feast arranged by Jesuit missionaries (1554), into an elaborate celebration of Xavier’s canonization organized jointly by church and state (1624), and finally, into a series of “Solemn Expositions” designed by colonial officials at regular centenary intervals (1782, 1859, 1952), including the last colonial exposition of 1961 staged amidst Goa’s liberation and integration into postcolonial India. These six ritual “events”, staged at critical junctures (1554, 1624, 1782, 1859, 1952, 1961), and always centered on Xavier’s biography and corpse, provide the conceptual framework for individual chapters of the book.

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Xavier and the Portuguese colonial legacy
Pamila Gupta

once that India has two most beautiful mausoleums – the Taj Mahal at Agra and (on a smaller scale) the silver casket of St Francis Xavier in Goa – P. Rayanna, S.J., 1982 2 In December 2004 government officials in Goa staged the sixteenth exposition of the ‘sacred remains’ of St Francis Xavier. While it took place amidst a

in The relic state
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Pamila Gupta

Introduction Nothing remains of this city [Old Goa] but the sacred, the profane is entirely banished. – Denis L. Cottineau de Kloguen, French priest and visitor, 1827 1 Old Goa has few charms when seen by the light

in The relic state
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Pamila Gupta

Yards distant from it. Now if any should question the Truth of Xavier’s Story of Goa , they would be branded with the odious Name of an obstinate incredulous Heretick, and perhaps fall in the Hands of a convincing Inquisition. – Alexander Hamilton, 1692 2 In 1624 the Estado da Índia staged a reception to honour

in The relic state
Pamila Gupta

Introduction As the ritual articulations of myths, commemorations play an important part in creating a usable national history. 1 Goa may be a minor pimple but it is a pimple that disfigures

in The relic state
Pamila Gupta

Introduction Viceroys of India may come and go, but the Jesuit Fathers are always with us [in Goa]. – popular eighteenth-century saying 1 The persecution of the Society of Jesus was unleashed under

in The relic state
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Pamila Gupta

deserted island of Sancian (off the coast of China) where he had died only three months earlier. His body was found to be ‘incorrupt’ 2 – meaning that his flesh had not decomposed – and was put on the next westward-bound Portuguese ship, stopping briefly in Malacca and arriving in Goa on 16 March 1554, where he was honoured in a small reception. The Viceroy led the procession that carried Xavier

in The relic state
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The relic state
Pamila Gupta

taken the ‘sacred remains’ of Goa’s Apostle and Defender, São Francisco Xavier, with them when they were forced to leave by Indian troops bent on liberating this colonial enclave (1510–1961) located in the midst of a newly independent nation-state (1947). That the Estado da Índia desired the removal of Xavier’s body from Goa as a last colonial act suggests his crucial role

in The relic state
The making of early English ‘Bombay’
Philip J. Stern

in Bombay, London, Goa, Lisbon and Bombay itself, but also the regional and geopolitics of Mughal, Maratha and Dutch expansion, as well as the critical intersection between maritime and territorial sovereignty. In the process, this story offers some lessons about the complications at the heart of European claims to colonial sovereignty. Laws in Asian European empires were just as overlapping and ‘entangled’ as in the Caribbean, 3 if not even more so, in an Asia that even Europeans understood as having a very different relationship to indigenous histories, people

in Making the British empire, 1660–1800
Biological metaphors in the age of European decolonization
Elizabeth Buettner

cohesive for being scattered across the globe, unified and sustained by the sea. 33 A writer evaluating Goa’s place within the Portuguese world phrased it thus in 1953: ‘the sea plays the role … of the blood vessels of the human body; it guarantees the circulation of the blood and the life of the whole organism’. 34 Colonialism denied: Portuguese rhetorics

in Rhetorics of empire