Sunday, December 2, 2012

Spirituality: Francis Xavier and the Crab

Francis Xavier visited Malacca four times in the 16th Century. On one of his visits, lost his crucifix at sea when he calmed the water during a heavy storm.

Francis was travelling from one island to the next in the natives' boats and on a particular day a big storm developed that nearly capsized his boat. He held onto his crucifix and said a prayer. Then he dipped the crucifix into the rough sea, which immediately calmed down the storm winds. Unfortunately, his crucifix fell to the bottom of the sea. No one perished in the storm.

The next day, he was surprised to see a crab crawling up the beach holding his crucifix in its claws. With great joy he picked up the crucifix and blessed the crab, and the crab disappeared in the calm sea. On the shell of this species of crab, there is a distinct sign of the cross. They are still found in the Straits of Malacca today. Portuguese fisherman believe they are holy and will not eat them.

A Portuguese gunner, Fausta Rodrigues, was an eye-witness to this incident and wrote it down in his diary, which is on display in the National Museum of Lisbon. In the Chapel of the Royal Place, Madrid, Spain, the crucifix with the scratching of the crab's claws is on display.

St Francis Xavier died off the coast of China and his body was buried in Malacca for six months before going on to its final resting place in Goa, India. In 1614, the Pope requested the right arm of Saint to be severed from his corpse and sent to Rome. Blood was said to have gushed out of the arm even though he had been dead for 62 years. Immediately after Fr Francis Xavier was canonized a Saint in 1622 the remains of the right arm in Rome was merely a skeleton, but the whole body in Goa remains incorruptible minus the right arm.

In 1952 the Bishop of Macau decided to put up a statue in front of the St Paul's Church. A marble statue was ordered from Italy and was sculptured by the famous Italian sculpture, G. Toni and was ready for the fourth centenary celebrations on the 22 March 1953. One quiet night a huge tree fell burying the statue. On clearing the branches, the statue was found to be intact except for the right arm which had broken off. This is yet another miracle of St. Francis Xavier to show that his incorruptible body in Goa today is without the right hand. Until today visitor to St Paul's hill can still witness this phenomenon with the statue standing without the right hand.