OLD GOA: Amidst tight security, the annual Novenas leading up to the Feast of St Francis Xavier at Old Goa commenced today at Old Goa. Hundreds of Devotees attended the first day of novenas on Saturday.
This year, the maddi on November 24 precedes the feast on December 4. Father Patricio Fernandes, the Rector of the Basilica of Bom Jesus, stated that the liturgical year starts on December 3, which is also the first Sunday of Advent.
The Goa Police have put in place a tight security arrangement with a strong police presence and round-the-clock surveillance from November 24-night to ensure the safety of the UNESCO World Heritage site and the people, anticipating over a lakh pilgrims and visitors.
In response to the Goa Police Department’s most recent security advisory, which emphasizes the need to carry identification when entering churches, the department disclosed that random identification checks will take place, with the option to provide hard copy or electronic copies of identification.
Nidhin Valsan, the superintendent of police for North Goa, promised 24-hour police presence starting on November 24.
“We will make sure that nobody is inconvenienced and that everything runs smoothly throughout the Novenas and the Feast,” he declared.
Throughout the course of the two shifts, up to 250 armed personnel will be stationed at the location, along with a superintendent and deputy superintendent of police who will be present at all times.
Tight restrictions on personal property inside the churches forbid carrying handbags, extra luggage, and baggage altogether. A senior officer mentioned that there will be X-ray baggage scanners installed for a comprehensive security check. Drones are essential for tracking visitor movements inside the jurisdiction of the Old Goa police station, which includes the grounds of St. Cathedral Church and the Basilica of Bom Jesus.
Sources underlined the requirement for ID proofs, either hard copies or digital ones, and disclosed that these will be randomly inspected when visiting both churches.
Masses will be broadcast live online on Goan media channels, the YouTube channels of the Basilica and the Archdiocese. The celebration extends beyond masses to include the rosary, daily adoration, intercessions, and confessions.
Global spiritual leader St. Francis Xavier brings pilgrims to Old Goa all year long to pray at the mausoleum containing his holy relics. Devotees will be able to honor the saint’s mortal remains during the upcoming decennial exposition, which runs from November 21, 2024, to January 5, 2025. Prayer services, devotions, pilgrimages, and cultural events like painting contests and song performances on the exposition are all scheduled.