Last Updated on December 11, 2020 by Augustin Fernandes
Basilica of Bom Jesus is a major part of the Churches and Convents of Goa, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The name, Bom Jesus comes from the meaning ‘The Holy Jesus’, the name used by the Portuguese, when they addressed the Lord Jesus Christ
Old Goa Church History and Structure
The Church began to be constructed and put together in the early year of 1954 and the construction lasted for nearly a decade before it was blessed to be a complete, ready Church.
Basilica of Bom Jesus is one of the most beautiful examples of baroque architecture seen in India. The church signifies the mark that the Portuguese had in Goa and is also known to be the unique of all the Goan Churches.
The Basilica of Bom Jesus, which still stands tall in all its glory until today, is one of the oldest and historical churches in Goa.
The entrance to the church is quite spectacular as you enter a beautifully ornamented door that leads you onto a marble stone floor inlaid with precious stones.
It is a large single Nave structure built ( 1595-1605) and paid for with legacies left by Dom Jeronimo Mascarenhas, a wealthy Portuguese Captain of Cochin.
It is the only monument (Church) with a façade not covered with plaster. The plaster was stripped off in 1970 by an over-zealous Portuguese conservationist who believed that this would help preserve the carvings on the façade better. Unfortunately, even though this was soon seen to be a false assumption, no one has put the plaster back
The baroque architecture of the building combined with the beautiful carvings and woodwork gives you a picturesque welcome.
Body of St Francis Xavier in Old Goa Church
What makes this Church special to the Goans and the tourists in particular, is the fact that it’s a sacred monument that holds the body of the famous Portuguese Saint: “St. Francis Xavier”.
Fr. Francis Xavier died of a fever in 1552 on the island of Shangchaun, whilst waiting for a boat to travel to China. His last rites were performed and he was laid to rest in a simple coffin in the Portuguese colony of Malacca. When his remains were disinterred some years later, they were found to be “fresh and intact”. Upon hearing of this, the Vatican canonized him a saint. His remains were buried in three different places before they came to their final resting place in Goa.
The body of St. Francis Xavier is considered to be a holy figure, as it is said to have not decayed since the day it was buried
Every year on the 3rd of December, the Basilica of Bom Jesus celebrates the feast of St. Francis Xavier.
The feast is witnessed by Christians as well as non-Christians alike and is open to the general public. It’s a place where Goans from different cultures unite together to celebrate the holiness of their land.
Public Expositions of the body of St. Francis Xavier
Every ten years a unique event takes place in the Basilica of Bom Jesus, surrounding the Feast Of St. Francis Xavier, which was last held in the year 2014.
On this particular day, the body of St. Francis Xavier is opened for viewing by the public. This historical event attracts huge masses of people from all over Goa, India and the world, who come to see the holy sacred body of this St., which is considered to possess miraculous powers for healing.
Statue of St. Ignatius of Loyola
Right in the front of the Church lies the main Altar which holds the decorated statue of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the society of the Jesuits, and who was also a close companion of St. Francis Xavier.
St. Ignatius of Loyola, was said to have spoken these inspiring words to Francis Xavier, one day during one of their conversations. Ignatius told Xavier, “What does it profit a man, if he gains the whole world, but loses his sole”. These words leave us to think about our values about our life as we each try to aspire to great heights.
St. Francis Xavier Cloths
Mass Timing at Old Goa Church – Basilica of Bom Jesus
The Basilica of Bom Jesus, now over 408 years, remains open every day for the public. Locals prefer coming to this holy sacred church for mass, especially on a Sunday.
The Church holds mass every day in the morning at 7:00 am (in the local language) and 8:00 am (in English).
On Sunday the mass begins at 9:15 am in the local language (Konkani) and 10:15 am in English.
It also opens once in the evening for mass on Sunday at 6:00 pm.
A holy hour is given by the Basilica on the 1st Friday of every month at 5:00 pm.
Places to Visit near Old Goa church – Besilica of Bom Jesus
Besides the Basilica of Bom Jesus, Old Goa has other celebrated monuments and sites worth visiting by tourists. Another such monument is the Se Cathedral Church, which is also located just a walking distance away from the Basilica of Bom Jesus.
The Museum of Christian Art is also another place in old Goa worth visiting for those who want to learn a bit more about the Portuguese rule in Goa, and about the ancient Portuguese architecture.
The Old Portuguese Churches and monuments in Old Goa include;
St. Augustine Church Goa – Historical landmark in Goa
St. Augustine Church Goa, was once the most remarkable Church in Goa, seen standing proudly on the hill of Monte Santo (Holy Hill).
St. Augustine Church Goa is declared as a world heritage site in 1986, the ruins of this church now attract tourists from around the globe,
Se Cathedral Church Old Goa
Se Cathedral Church of Old Goa is one of the oldest and biggest churches to be seen in Asia. The construction of this magnificent masterpiece began in 1562 and was completed in the year 1619.Se Cathedral Church
Church of St. Francis of Assisi
The grand landmark of the church of St. Francis of Assisi has a unique and special aura, mainly due to its perfectly designed structure.
The Chapel of St. Catherine
The Chapel of St. Catherine is located in the western side of St. Francis of Assisi Church and is dedicated to St. Catherine. It was built by Alfonso De Albuquerque in 1510 when he defeated the local Muslim ruler Adil Shah.
Museum of Christian Art
The Museum of Christian Art is situated in the heart of ‘Old Goa’, a place famous for having religious history and crowned with many important religious monuments
Archaeological Museum of Old Goa
The convent, adjoining the church of St. Francis of Assisi, was converted into a museum and was set up by the Archaeological Survey of India in 1965.
Church of St. Cajetan Old Goa
The spectacular and beautiful Church of St. Cajetan, lies about half a kilometer away to the northeast of the Se Cathedral.
The Viceroy’s Arch Old Goa
The archway into Old Goa, known as the Viceroy’s Arch, was erected by Vasco da Gama’s grandson, ‘Francisco da Gama’, who became viceroy in 1597.
All these sites show you a different side of Goa, which every tourist needs to see.
How to reach Old Goa Church
The fastest route to Old Goa Church is by getting off at the Karmali Railway Station, which is 3km away from the main area of Old Goa.
Panaji (Capital of Goa) is also very close by and is 9km away. You can reach Old Goa from Panaji by bus.
Catch a direct bus from the main Panaji Bus stand (Panjim-Ponda/ Panjim Old Goa Bus) which will take you directly to Old Goa.
The Dabolim Airport in Goa is 30 km away from Old Goa, and can be reached by bus or by Taxi in about an hour. Getting to Old Goa from the airport may result in you having to get down at Panaji, and then from Panaji catch another bus to Old Goa.
Old Goa is also pretty close to the other tourist beach areas in Goa, like Calangute and Candolim, which is 20km away.
Frequently Asked questions on Old Goa Church
What is the name of Old Goa Church?
The Basilica of Bom Jesus also known to be the Old Goa Church is a Roman Catholic basilica located in Goa, India
Which is the biggest church in Goa?
Basilica of Bom Jesus is the biggest Church in Goa
Which saint body is in Goa?
The Basilica of Bom Jesus (Old Goa Church) holds the body of the famous Portuguese Saint “St. Francis Xavier”.
How St Francis Xavier died?
Fr. Francis Xavier died of a fever in 1552 on the island of Shangchaun, whilst waiting for a boat to travel to China.
My recommendation to the tourists who want to plan a visit to old Goa and catch a glimpse of the beautiful churches and monuments is to book a hotel in Panjim, the Capital of Goa. From here you can easily hire a taxi or catch a bus to Old Goa, which is just a 20 minute ride.
Staying in Panjim will allow you to be central to other tourist destinations as well, so you can plan a morning to old Goa whenever you feel like it as well as make yourself free to discover the other beautiful places around Panjim like the streets in Fontainhais.
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