01/28/2018 08:00 EST | Updated 01/29/2018 03:41 EST

Saint's right arm comes to Montreal as part of cross-country tour

MONTREAL — The right forearm of a 16th-century Jesuit missionary will arrive in Montreal today on the latest stop on a cross-country tour.

Montreal Archbishop Christian Lepine says the relic of St. Francis Xavier will arrive on a flight from Vancouver on Sunday afternoon, just in time for an evening mass.

The relic, which normally rests in Rome, has been criss-crossing the country as part of a tour to celebrate Canada's 150th birthday.

Christians in cities from Halifax to Vancouver have had a chance to venerate the relic, which never fully decomposed after the Spanish-born saint died in 1552.  

Lepine says St. Francis Xavier was a missionary who baptised thousands of people in his travels across Asia.

He describes the relic's three-day stop in the Montreal as an opportunity for prayer.

"Francis Xavier was a missionary, so he went in Asia, he preached all of his life, he preached the love of Jesus Christ, so it's an occasion to pray," he said.

The tour's organizers, which include the Ottawa archdiocese and the Jesuits of Canada, have said they hope to attract 100,000 visitors during the month-long tour.