Home to the Saint Francis Xavier, the priest responsible of bringing Christianity to the region, this church in Goa attracts thousands of tourists and pilgrims from all over the world, both Catholic and non-Catholic alike, to experience what can only be termed as divine intervention itself. It is said that the great Saint Francis Xavier had immense powers of healing which is still reflected in the remains of his mortal self.
Testimony to this claim is a public viewing of the Saint’s body that happens once a decade. It last took place in 2004. Bom Jesus translates to Good Jesus or Infant Jesus to whom it is essentially dedicated.
Having been inaugurated in 1605 by Father Aleixo De Menezes, the Basilica of Bom Jesus is over 400 years old and is open to tourists and pilgrims every day. Inside the church, pilgrims can worship and browse through the intricate artwork that speak volumes about the life and time of Saint Francis Xavier. The remains of Saint Francis are kept in a well-clad casket. Most of the mausoleum has been designed by Giovanni Battista Foggini, a 17th century sculptor. The entire church has been built on the principles of Jesuit architecture.
There has been talk that the Basilica of Bom Jesus Church is soon on its way to going green with a galvanised roof for a better experience for Church inhabitants, pilgrims and tourists. The galvanised roof will replace the current asbestos roof. This is a first of a kind move in India to preserve a 400-year-old UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Widely Opposed Professed House
The Professed house is a separate structure within the church compound and predates the church itself by around twenty years, having been built in 1585. Jesuit missionaries made this place their base for activities pertaining to the far east since back then. The Jesuits faced tough opposition from the Senate for which they were not permitted to build the church.
One night, against the opposition, the Jesuits threw open a small church on the doors of which was inscribed the work Jesus and invited the commons in to celebrate mass. Ever since the Senate was helpless but to let them go about with their activities. The Professed house, a separate building is still on the campus and a hot favourite amongst tourists.
How To Get There?
The Basilica of Bom Jesus is just a stone throw away from the capital of Goa, Panjim. One can easily hail a cab in the city or get on from Vasco da Gama city or Margao city. For pilgrims who are put up in North Goa, namely Baga, Calangute and Candolim, cabs are available, although if you’re doing a day-long tour, visiting various churches in Panjim and the south, it is best to be mobile with your own vehicle or a self-driven hired one.