Brockey, Liam Matthew. The Cruelest Honor: The Relics of Francis Xavier in Early-Modern Asia

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Brockey, Liam Matthew


The Cruelest Honor: The Relics of Francis Xavier in Early-Modern Asia


The Catholic Historical Review vol. 101, no. 1, Centennial issue 2015 (Catholic material culture), pp. 41-64



This article examines the body of Francis Xavier, preserved whole since its exhumation in 1553, through the lens of material history. It traces the corpse’s translation from the China coast to the Malay peninsula and onward to its final resting place in Goa. Historical sources relating to the many examinations of the body are discussed, as well as the devotional traditions that emerged as a result of the miraculous preservation of the body in the tropic heat of Western India. Testimony from late-sixteenth- and seventeenth-century visitors sheds light on how early-modern Asian Catholics understood the relic.



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