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The Pan Asian Heritage
of St. Francis Xavier
Between Memory
& Contemporary Appropriations
Goa - 12-15 December 2024


Saint Francis Xavier (1506-1552) extensively traveled across Asia to preach the Gospel, provide pastoral support to Europeans, and bring Christian salvation to indigenous peoples. His journey through the four sub-regions of the continent has brought many people and institutions to project in him a number of narratives and ideals (Greenwood 2023; Gupta 2014; Rodriguez 2022). Francis Xavier can stand as a symbol of missionary zeal, an embodiment of what a Jesuit represents, a man of dialogue between cultures, and a Western colonizer (Cañeque 2022; Miller 2022). While he has been canonized by the Catholic Church, he is also venerated by Anglican and Episcopal Churches. But what are the narratives, devotions, and institutions that contemporary Asian people develop in relation to this cross-cultural figure of Christianity?

This conference explores the ways in which different Asian peoples and institutions share stories about Francis Xavier, the nature of the narratives they build, and the type of devotional practices, cross regional pilgrimages, and secular museums that they establish in relation to him today. By paying attention to the range of ideals and values behind these memorializing efforts, this conference aims at discussing the theological, social, and political significance of Francis Xavier in 21st century Asia. 

Scholars who are confident in completing a draft of their paper by late November 2024 are welcome to apply.

The organizing committee welcomes papers exploring the following questions, as well as other topics related to Francis Xavier in contemporary Asia:

  • What is the nature of contemporary discourses, beliefs, and practices related to St. Francis Xavier in Asia?

  • Who are the promoters and participants of these memorial efforts? How are these populations reconfiguring the Asian geography and significance of Francis Xavier?

  • What do these memorial efforts tell us about local Churches and Christianity in Asia today?

  • What do these memorial efforts tell us about ecumenical relations, interreligious dynamics, postcolonial transformations, and modern nation-states?

  • How does Francis Xavier tradition get localized and nationalized across Asia?

  • How are the contemporary memories of Francis Xavier mobilized to promote national, regional, and international tourism?  Which kind of objects and souvenirs are circulated across places?

  • To what extent is the pan Asia journey of Francis Xavier mobilized to build regional identities and cross-continental networks?  


This conference advocates for the use of new materials and methods to open up new areas of inquiry. It encourages interdisciplinary research, promoting comprehensive studies in social science, history, religion, and art.

The organizing committee welcomes contributions rooted in social sciences, missiology, political science, history, communication studies, religious studies, arts, linguistics, etc. We are interested in papers able to focus on the Asian localities visited by Francis Xavier (Ambon, Goa, Mannar, Cape Comorin, Shangchuan, Yamaguchi, etc.), as well as on their interconnectedness and contemporary reinterpretations.

As this conference occurs during the decennial exposition of the Sacred Relics of St. Francis Xavier (21 Nov. 2024 – 5 Jan. 2025), it will gain significance and relevance for Christians in India and Asia.


  • Brockey, Liam Matthew. 2015. “The Cruelest Honor: The Relics of Francis Xavier in Early-Modern Asia.” The Catholic Historical Review 101 (1): 41–64.

  • Cañeque, Alejandro. 2022. “In the Shadow of Francis Xavier: Martyrdom and Colonialism in the Jesuit Asian Missions.” Journal of Jesuit Studies 9 (3): 438–58. 

  • Doak, Kevin Michael. 2011. Xavier's Legacies : Catholicism in Modern Japanese Culture. Vancouver: UBC Press.

  • Greenwood, Jonathan E. 2023. “From Goa to Global: Devotional Images and the Cult of Francis Xavier in the Seventeenth-Century World".” Espacio, Tiempo y Forma. Revista de La Facultad de Geografía e Historia / Serie 4, Historia Moderna, no. 36: 2221–42.

  • Gupta, Pamila. 2014. The Relic State : St Francis Xavier and the Politics of Ritual in Portuguese India. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

  • Gupta, Pamila. 2017. “The Corporeal and the Carnivalesque: The 2004 Exposition of St. Francis Xavier and the Consumption of History in Postcolonial Goa.” Etnográfica (Oeiras, Portugal) 21 (vol. 21 (1)): 107–24. 

  • Kandolkar, Vishvesh Prabhakar. 2021. “Itinerant Saint: The Architecture of Golden Goa and the 1952 Exposition of St. Francis Xavier’s Relics.” Journal of Hindu Studies 14 (2): 149–70.

  • Miller, Rachel. 2022. “From "Apostle of Japan" to "Apostle of All the Christian World": The Iconography of St. Francis Xavier and the Global Catholic Church.” Journal of Jesuit Studies 9 (3): 415–37. 

  • Rodríguez, Ana M. 2022. “St. Francis Xavier-"Patrón Desta Jornada": Jesuit Writings and the Spanish Re-Appropriation of the Pacific.” Journal of Jesuit Studies 9 (2): 229–44.

  • Ryan, Maria Del Pilar. 2018. “Piety and Piracy: The Repatriation of the Arm of St Francis Xavier.” In Remapping Travel Narratives, 1000-1700, 217–34. Amsterdam: Arc Humanities Press.

  • Subhash Bhaskaran Pillai, Kaustubh Kamat, Miriam Scaglione, Carmelita D'Mello, and Klaus Weiermair. n.d. “Exposition of St. Francis Xavier’s Holy Relics in Goa: An Importance-Performance Analysis.” International Journal of Religious Tourism and Pilgrimage l (1).

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  • Submit a proposal

Scholars interested in presenting a paper should submit a 250-word abstract and 100-word short biography to by 15 June 2024.


We will send notices of acceptance by 15 July 2024. 

Successful applicants are expected to circulate 3,000-word draft paper three weeks prior to the conference. We ask that only original work is submitted as there is the possibility of published conference proceedings.


  • Conference Details

The full program of the conference will be available online by 15 September 2024.

The conference is co-organized by St Xavier's College, Rosary College of Commerce & Arts (affiliated to Goa University), the Archdiocese of Goa and Daman, and ISAC. 

The conference is scheduled to take place in Goa on Dec 13-14, 2024. Participants are expected to arrive on December 12, and depart on Dec. 15.


For paper presenters, the organizers of the conference will cover accommodation and meals during the conference. Depending on available funds, the organizers may also provide partial travel allowances to participants in need.

If you have questions, please contact the Organizing Committee at


  • Attending the conference

The conference is opened to the general public.

More details on how to attend will be provided later. 

People who would like to receive updates about this conference should fill out the form below: 

  • Publications

Papers presented at this conference will be evaluated by peer-reviewers. Selected papers will be published in a special issue or edited volume.  

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