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Francis of Xavier

Novenas de Gracia

Parish Church

Albergue Diocesano

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  Parish Church

Parish

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Monday to Saturday  

 09.00 am
 

Sundays and Feast-days

 09:30 am
  Sundays and Feast-days Parish Mass  11:30 am

Every Parish Church enfolds two different realities: the visible, material one, which tells about dates, architecture, art; and the inner and spiritual one, which speaks to the ears and eyes of faith.


1st Part: Parish

The Parish Church is the family home, the natural place where the Christian life is born and grows; it’s in it where we receive the sacraments and celebrate our faith. And it was in this temple where Francis Xavier took his first steps in the inner path of faith; it was here where his first encounters with God began: 
-here, in his baptism, he was born to a new life in Christ, he became a ‘Christian’
-his adolescent faith was strengthened in the Confirmation with the anointing of the Holy Spirit.
-here young Francis celebrated the victory of the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world, and felt the embrace of the Father each time he approached the sacrament of Confession.
-in this church he heard the Word of God to his people, and became one with Christ in the Eucharist.
-here he experienced the ecclesial community sharing with the few people of the little village in the liturgy of the Mass, reciting the Rosary or in the different Novenas as preparation for the feasts of the Saints.
-all this was a little seed which would flower into the great adventure of his life and, at the end, it earned him the veneration and devotion of so many peoples.

*The quiet environment and peace is an invitation to sit in prayer for a while in the same place where the ‘prayers’ of little Francis became a prayer life.


2nd Part - The History


1251 Teobaldo I (Thibault), king of Navarre, makes “perpetual donation of our castle, town, and church with all the tithes, and with all its possessions” [4]                                  

1456 Mosen Pierres de Peralta (chieftain of one of the Navarrese factions) attacks and sets fire to the village of Javier; the little Parish Church is demolished. [5]

1500 Six years before the youngest of their children (Francis) was born, Juan de Jasso and Maria de Azpilicueta restored and enlarged the church; they added to it a vicarage; they wrote wise constitutions for the life and work of the three priests: “...the church stands in need of repairing ... they provided the church with a new house, which will be called the ‘abbadia’, with an enclosed garden... the Vicars shall bless the graves in the church and the tomb of the lord of Javier which is inside the church.” “The masters of Javier endowed splendidly the Parish; they gave wonderful constitutions for its good running, and set themselves as lasting patrons” [6]                           

1575 Francis’ niece Ana, Michael’s daughter, dictates in her testament: “my body will be taken to the Parish Church of Saint Mary of Xavier, and buried therein with my parents” [7]       

1655 “...because of its urgent need, we command the church to be tiled at once... the porch threatens quick collapse... the Vicar ought to inform his lordship (absent from the place) about it... [8]  It took almost fifty years to amend such neglect:

1702 The Countess of Javier, Mª Isabel Aznarez de Garro, makes arrangements to begin the construction of the present church. The Master mason asks for “the stone and wood materials which were in the old church, as well as the needed lime and sand” [9]

1705 - 1717 y 1720 Recurrent in Canonical Visitations: Since the accounts are in his Lordship’s hand, press him so that “the work of the altarpiece ... be taken up as soon as possible” [10]  Again it took time to do it: 

1754  “Contract to make the decoration or painting and whatever may be needed for the Main Altarpiece of the Parish Church of the village of Javier, done by Juan Antonio de Logroño, a resident in Pamplona...” [11]

2005 In preparation for the V Centenary of St. Francis Xavier’s birth and baptism, some improvements were undertaken: dampness sanitation, heating system, the stone floor was replaced by a wooden one, the walls were painted anew, the lighting improved. Many bones and skeletons appeared when the floor was removed. [12]

3rd  part - The Building, Architecture and Minutiae

Before entering the temple, a courtyard made of stone, brick, cobbles, and wood creates a harmonious enclosure full of peace that helps to produce a noiseless and collected atmosphere.

Just in front: the vicarage, the ‘Abbadia’ founded by the parents of St. Francis Xavier in 1500 as residence of Vicars and Assistants.
Since 1971 a group of Oblate Sisters of Christ the Priest (founded in 1938) reside in it in austerity and contemplation. They see to the cleanliness of the material church, and the spiritual church raises in their voices an uninterrupted prayer.

The arched porch. In 1954 an ornamental tile, gift from the Portuguese people, was added to it. King Joâo III had asked for missionaries for his vast domains in the East, and the chosen one was, unexpectedly, Francis. The scene depicts the farewell before setting sail for India. 

Inside: the temple is basically the one rebuilt in 1702; in spite of subsequent repairs, it keeps the baroque taste of that epoch. *As most ancient churches, its single and simple nave looks to the East, the ‘Orient’ (Jesus Christ, the rising Son)

The altarpiece abounds in decoration, angels, flowers, curtains. From top to bottom: -A big coat of arms enclosing the heraldic bearings of the family. *When young Francis Xavier was studying in Paris, he wanted his nobility entitlement confirmed; one of the proofs was: “the badge and coat of arms of the family can be found on the main entrance to the palace and in the reredos of the church of Xabier...” [13] The present one belongs to the Countess who sponsored the new church in 1702; but it must have been very similar, as it belongs to the same lineage.

The central canvas calls to mind that the church is now dedicated to the Annunciation. It’s a painting after the manner of the Madrid school of the XVII cent. -Both sides of it, two copies of paintings by Rubens: St. Ignatius of Loyola in liturgical vestments, and our St. Francis Xavier. [14]   

Presiding all, the little and fine image of Our Lady of Xavier, XIII cent. [15], although the present crown and paint are recent ones. “Above the tabernacle, the Virgin with the Child; little Francis and his family prayed to her and sought her protection. As directed by the Masters of the castle, the ‘Salve Regina’ was to be sang at the stroke of the castle’s bell”The tabernacle and its pelican bird. As legend has it, the pelican tears its chest in drought and famine times so that its fledglings may feed on its blood. The legend was applied to the sacrifice of Christ in the cross and to the sacrament of the Eucharist.

The Baptismal font

It’s the font where Francis received his baptism and his name, as many children do today. “The font, made of dark stone, has the shape of a slim and airy cup... It’s widespread and ordinary devotion in Navarre to bring the children to be baptized in it... And I give faith of it, Agustin Barasoain, vicar”  (He was Vicar of Javier 1730-1759)  
-Francis would write from Cochin 37 years later: “it frequently happens that my arms become exhausted from baptizing”
-The Font was carved in stone in the XV cent. Its octagonal shape served the catechetical purposes of that time: the 8th day meant a reality outside time; and the letters of St. Peter remind us that the persons saved in the waters in Noah’s time were eight. [16] In this way, the octagonal Font tries to become a symbol of salvation and new life.
*1770 “Report of the embellishments and decorations for the Baptismal Font in the Parish Church of Javier: ...several silver adornments around the Font and its cover done most delicately and most skilfully with chisel, at the cost of 3.927 ‘reales’... And so do I declare in Pamplona, November 21, 1770” [17]  All these decorations and other jewellery were taken away by Napoleon’s army at the beginning of XIX cent., “as a souvenir of the Saint”, adds ironically the document. 
*The Baptistery chapel was built at the beginning of cent. XX to shelter the Font;  its floor made with baroque tiles is very ornamental and attractive.

 

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