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Basilica of Bom Jesus – The Oldest Church in Goa

Located in Goa, India, the Basilica of Bom Jesus or Borea Jezuchi Bajilika is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This basilica holds the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier. This church is located in the Old Goa, which during the early days of Portuguese rules was the capital of Goa. The Basilica of Bom Jesus is India's first minor basilica and is considered to be one of the best instances of baroque architecture in India. Although it is now partially in ruins, it is perhaps one of the most famous churches of Goa and is still a prime model of simplicity and elegance. Aged over 400 years old, the construction of the church began in 1594 and was completed in the year 1605.

This magnificent edifice has the architectural style of Baroque, which was the most popular style of the 16th and early 17th century. There is triangular roofing situated on the facade of the church which has the initials 'IHS' carved delicately into it. The 'IHS' is an abbreviation of the Latin ‘Iesus Hominum Salvator’ (Jesus, Saviour of Men). In the Old Goa, this is the only church which does not have plaster on the outside as a zealous Portuguese conservationist stripped off the lime plaster in 1950 on the notion that the original laterite stone of which the basilica is built would become more durable and strengthen the building. Despite having the proof to the contrary, there is still no plaster and with every harsh monsoon, some intricate carving keeps on eroding.

More Details about Basilica of Bom Jesus

The layout of the basilica inside is simple but elegant and grand and is contained beneath a simple wooden ceiling. Stretching from floor to ceiling behind the altar, there is an ornately gilded reredos or ornamental screen with baroque ornament in contrast to the classical, plain layout of the cathedral. This screen shows St Ignatius Loyola, protecting a tiny figure of the infant Jesus with a huge gilded sun above his head which again has the carvings of 'IHS'. Above all is the image of the most sacred symbol in Christianity, the Holy Trinity.

To the right of the altar, there is the mausoleum body of St Francis Xavier himself. The body was moved into the church in 1622 and was installed in the mausoleum in 1698 by Cosimo III, Grand Duke of Tuscany. The Florentine sculptor Giovanni Batista Foggini, worked on the three-tiered structure, made of quality jasper and marble, adorned with stars and bronze plaques that depicts various scenes from the saint's life.
The church is the busiest during the Feast of St Francis Xavier, held annually on 3 December. Mass is also held in the basilica at 7 am and 8 am Monday to Saturday, at 8 am and 9.15am on Sunday in the Konkani language, and in English at 10.15am on Sunday. It also holds a confession from 5 pm to 6 pm daily. Basillica of Bom Jesus is one of the must visit places in Goa as well as a famous church.

How to Reach

The basilica is open every day and has no entry fee. The church is located around 10 km from Panjim in Old Goa. It takes around 20 minutes in a taxi from Panjim. 30 km away from Panjim is the nearest airport at Dabolim. Moreover, there are quite a few numbers of buses which ply to Old Goa from Panjim.

Conclusion

The Basilica of Bom Jesus is one of the most famous churches in Old Goa and is a must-see place to see if you ever visit to Goa. It instils a sense of calm and serenity to people and is all around an aesthetically pleasing and beautiful place to visit.

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