Panaji: Situated in Old Goa, the Basilica of Bom Jesus was built in 1605 AD. The Basilica is home to the tomb and mortal remains of St Francis Xavier and is a monument typical of the classic forms of architecture introduced by the Society of Jesus , otherwise known as the Jesuits.
It is not only a pilgrimage centre, but also the most iconic monument of all the churches and convents of Goa, and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is located in Old Goa and is the only church in that region that is not plastered on the outside.
The history of the Basilica of Bom Jesus
The construction of the Basilica of Bom Jesus began in 1594 and was consecrated in May 1605. It houses the body of St. Francis Xavier, a very close friend of St. Ignatius Loyola with whom he founded the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits).
Francis Xavier, who is said to have miraculous powers of healing, died on the Sancian Island while going to China on December 3, 1552. His body was first taken to Malacca and shipped back to Goa two years later. The remains of the saint still attract a huge number of tourists (Christian and non-Christian alike) from all over the world.
This is one of the oldest churches in Goa and in India, and its floor is of marble inlaid with precious stones. Apart from the elaborate gilded altars, the interior of the church is simple.
The gaze of the gilded statue of Ignatius of Loyola is fixed upwards in awe at the name of Jesus Christ on the gilded emblem of the Jesuits, encircled in radiant rays. Over the emblem, is the Holy Trinity-Father, Son and Spirit. The altar table which is used in Holy mass is gilded and adorned with the figures of Christ and his apostles at the Last Supper, along with the words “Hi Mhoji Kudd”, which in Konkani means “This is my Body”, from the Institution Narrative.
On the southern side of the transept lies the Chapel of St. Francis Xavier. This chapel has carved and gilded columns and wood-carved floral decorations. This is where the relics of the saint are kept.
The church also has paintings of scenes taken from the life of St. Francis Xavier. The Basilica of Bom Jesus is more than 408 years old and is open to the public every day. The Basilica also contains a modern art gallery with paintings depicting various Biblical scenes.