The town of Old Goa has some of Goa’s most prominent churches and the Basilica of Bom Jesus church stands out for its magnificent Baroque architecture and sacred legacy. Built in 1695, the Bom Jesus Church has been designed along the lines of Gesu, the Jesuit headquarters in Rome. In 1946, the church was declared a Minor Basilica, the first church of India to be accorded such a status.
Dedicated to Infant Jesus, the church has been declared a World Heritage Monument. ‘Bom Jesus’ literally means ‘Infant Jesus’ or ‘Good Jesus.’ This impressive structure boasts of pristine white marble flooring and has beautifully gilded altars decorated with frescoes and inlay work. The imposing façade is endowed with a profusion of basalt embellishments making it one of the richest facades in Goa.
The Basilica of Bom Jesus enshrines the sacred remains of St. Francis Xavier, a member of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) who died on a sea voyage to China in 1552. Legend has it that when the body of Xavier was transferred to Goa the following year, the body was found as fresh as the day it was buried. Consequent to this miracle the title of ‘Saint’ was conferred on Xavier and his mortal remains, confined inside his tomb, attracts devotees from all over the world.
The mausoleum of St. Xavier was carved by the 17th century Florentine sculptor Giovanni Battista Foggini and the saint’s body is kept in a silver casket. On the auspicious occasion of ‘Exposition,’ the silver casket is lowered for pilgrims to view the St. Francis Xavier’s body. The exposition of St. Francis Xavier is held once in every ten years, the last being in 2004.
How to Reach the Basilica of Bom Jesus
One can avail the local bus services of Old Goa to reach the Basilica of Bom Jesus. There are also options of taxis and auto rickshaws. Conducted tours from Panaji feature the Basilica of Bom Jesus church.