The right arm of St. Francis Xavier, now at the Gesu, the main Jesuit Church in Rome, will be brought to Japan for the duration of the fourth centenary pilgrimage in commemoration of the Saint's arrival in this country from May 29 to June 12.
The announcement was made by Fr. Bruno Bitter, SI, of the Catholic University of Tokyo, who has just returned from a roundthe-world trip in the interests of the pilgrimage.
Fr. Bitter confirmed that a Papal Legate will be appointed for the pilgrimage by His Holiness Pope Pius XII, A sign of the general interest roused by the celebrations is to be seen in the friendly rivalry that has broken out between the cities of Nagasaki and Oita, over the possession of a mission bell that has hung in a Shinto shrine for more than three centuries.
Nagasaki recently laid claim to the belt and asked that it be sent back there in time for the pilgrimage which is to be formally opened there on May 29.
Mayor Ueda of Oita who has long been interested in Christian antiquities in Japan read about the matter in the newspaper and wanted to know more about it. He knew that his friend, Father Marega, Salesian pastor of Oita, is a specialist in the early Christian history of this country so he immediately contacted the priest.
Fr. Marega had all the documents and he pointed out that the bell bears else inscription " St. James' Hospital, 1612 " in Spanish, From this he argued that the bell had belonged to the Spanish Augustinian& in Oita (the Funai of Xaverian Annas.
Hearing that Fr. Marega had Identified the exact spot on which the old church, hospital and school had been erected, Mayor Ueda also determined to have this spot reserved for a public park in honour of St. , Francis Xavier and wishes also to see a museum erected for the preservation of all available Christian relics and documents.
The mission of Oita (Funai) was the last place visited by St. Francis Xavier before he left Japan and this mission served for many years as the central headquarters of all the early Jesuit missioners in this country. The people of Oita therefore hope that many pilgrims will come to visit this "heart of the early Church." The mission may be reproduced in miniature for the museum which is planned,