The Santachem Pursanv is one of the two traditional processions still alive in Goa. In olden times Goa used to see many religious processions conducted by the various religious orders existing in Old Goa.However due to various reasons many of the processions did not survive.
The processions included the "Corpus Christi' procession which was held on the first Thursday after Low Sunday,the procession of the Rosary by the Dominican fathers, the procession of the flagellants, and that of the " bones of the Hanges" by the Confraternity of Charity
In passing times of Goa, most of these processions were either banned or simply died out in the last couple of centuries. However the ritual practices of Lenten tableaus which were practiced in olden Goa, are still continued with fervour till this day.
The two processions that still continue till this day are the procession of the "Capas Magna" at the Se Cathedral in Old Goa which is most commonly known in Goa as the "Xeppdeanchem Pursanv" on Good Friday and the procession of the "Santachem Pursanv" held at Goa Velha on the Monday after Passion Sunday ( 5th Sunday of Lent) . Goa is the only other place besides Rome to have these processionsas of date.
The objective of the "Procession of Saints was to inculcate a sense of spirit of prayer and penance into the hearts and minds of the faithful, taking the saints as role models who actually were simple people belonging to this world and who devoted their lives to Christ and thereby sanctified themselves.
This penitential procession of the Franciscan third order, had originally 65 images of saints in their original life sizes and vestments which originally used to leave the Pilar convent Church and pass through neighbouring villages and return to the convent with people from different walks of life , the rich and the poor being present for the event.
However in 1835 there was a change of guard as Queen Maria II of Portugal issued a decree abolishing religious orders in Portugal and its colonies due to to which there was a stop to the procession in an interval when nothing happened and many images and vestments were destroyed.
Interestingly until 1935, the procession was traditionally held on Monday of the first week of Lent.However with the new church when the procession came to Goa Velha and since then is being held on the Monday following the passion Sunday.
In the years 1889 and 1895, there were new images added . Santa Angela Monica was offered by the villagers living in Bombay. However the original number of 65 was never restored and on todays date only 30 saints are part of the procession. They are, St Francis of Assisi, Pope Innocent III, St. Michael, Cardinal St. Boaventura, St. Clare of Assisi, St Francis of Assisi with St Lucy and St Dona Bona, St Pascal Bailan, St Rose of Viterbo, St Roque, St Isabel, Isabel of Hungary, St Antonio of Lisboa,Cardinal St Peter Pdamiao, St Bernardo, St. Louis IX King of France, St. Filipe, St Ina of Assiz, St Roa of Lima, St Francis of Assissi and St Domnic, Immaculate Franciscan, Ecce Homo, the Divine Nazarene, the martyr of Golgota or the man of sorrows embracing St Francis of Assisi, St John Evangelist, St Mary Magdalen, St Angela Marcia, St Francis of Assisi.
The lead tableau has a cross with two hands crucified, one representing Jesus and the other St Francis of Assisi and they form the arms and symbol of the Franciscan order. the final tableau is one depicting St Francis of Assisi on his knees seeing a vision of Christ being crucified and on the hands, feet and the chest, the wounds of Jesus Christ are visible.