More than 100,000 Catholics from all over Japan assembled in the atom-bombed city of Nagasaki on Sunday last to celebrate the fourth centenary of the landing of St. Francis Xavier, the first Christian missionary to reach Japan.
A procession three miles long wound in the rain through the city from Oura Cathedral to Nishigaka Park, where 26 Japanese martyrs were crucified at the height of the Christian persecution in Japan some 350 years ago.
In the centre of the procession wasthe great relic of St. Francis Xavier—the preserved right arm of the saint which had been brought to Japan from Rome specially for the celebrations.
At the head of the procession marched three priests bearing a Cross and two candles. Then came several hundred choirboys, singing a Gregorian chant in Latin and Japanese.
They were followed by thousands of the faithful, their hands clasped on rosaries. The 15-piece brass band of the Urakami Church came next, playing " Via St. Francis."
A special open carriage followed, bearing the great Relic held aloft by a Japanese priest, of Nagasaki, while another Japanese priest, from Fukuoka, carried the crucifix used by the saint during his tour of Japan 400 years ago.
PAPAL LEGATE Then followed Cardinal Gilroy, Archbishop of Sydney, Papal Legate at the celebrations.
Several hundred nuns walked behind him, with a chorus of 1,000 white-veiled girls singing a Gregorian chant in Japanese. A crowd of Catholic women brought up the rear of the procession.
Practically the entire citylined the streets to watch the significant event. The procession took twoand-a.half hours to pass. In a special message read by Cardinal Gilroy, the Pope said: " We pray to God, Who is rich in mercy. that with the establishment of His peaceful kingdom in the illustrious Japanese people there may be born a new era full of Christian praise and prosperity."
Thirty thousand faithful crowded into the precincts of Urakami Church for the Pontifical Mass on Sunday. This church was destroyed by the atom bomb which hit Nagasaki. hut a new altar has been built in the ruins.
Conspicuously displayed on this altar were the relics of the saint. Mgr. Jose Lopez Ortir, Bishop of Tuy, officiated at the Mass.
On the following day (May 30), the preserved arm of the saint, enclosed in its glass-topped golden casket, was placed at the exact spot where the saint landed at Kagoshima. near Nagasaki, to be venerated,