Tuesday, May. 10, 2011

St. Francis Xavier's Toe

In the 16th century, St. Francis Xavier spent a lot of time on his feet, spreading the gospel throughout Spain, France, Italy, Malaysia, Japan, Sri Lanka and India, dying at sea en route to China. When a group of Christians disinterred his body a few months later, they were surprised to see it in a perfect state of preservation. But just as in life, his "incorrupt body" didn't stay at rest for long. In its first public exhibition of corpse in Goa, India, in fit of reverence, a Portuguese woman bit off his big toe. Allegedly, the toe gushed blood, and she was caught when people followed the grisly trail to her home. Today, St. Francis Xavier's toe is on display in a silver reliquary in a cathedral in Goa. And it isn't the only part of St. Xavier's corpse to travel: There's a diamond-encrusted fingernail on display in a different village in Goa, part of an arm was sent to Rome, and there's a hand in Japan.