Basilica of Bom Jesus
Delight in the art, architecture and rich history of the magnificent Basilica of Bom Jesus. Dedicated to the infant Jesus, the church is an important site for Christians and home to the remains of a 16th-century Spanish missionary.
The church was constructed at the turn of the 17th century, making it one of India’s oldest churches. The church later became India's first minor basilica. Its UNESCO World Heritage Status also stems from it being the final resting place of St. Francis Xavier, one of the co-founders of the Jesuit religious order. Inside, learn about his missionary voyages to the East.
Before your tour of the building, admire the columned, black granite exterior of this Baroque-style edifice. Note the engraved letters on the pediment that read IHS. This is an abbreviation of the name of Jesus in Greek and is the emblem of the Jesuits.
Inspect the interior, which combines striking features with simple walls. Rising above a marble floor, inlaid with precious stones, the basilica's opulent main altar is a spectacular sight. Appreciate the beauty of the gilded floor-to-ceiling altar screen.
To the right of the altar is the basilica's most popular attraction, the mausoleum of St. Francis Xavier, designed by 17th-century sculptor Giovanni Battista Foggini. Study the three-tiered structure, which features jasper and marble decorations and bronze reliefs depicting the saint's life. Atop is a silver casket holding the remains of the saint. Every 10 years, his body, which is in a good state of preservation, is put on public display.
In an adjoining area overlooking the tomb, browse the Bom Jesus Basilica Art Gallery. There are works by Goan surrealist Dom Martin among a range of pieces by contemporary artisans.
Explore other areas of the church to find the attractive altars to Our Lady of Hope and St. Michael.
The Basilica of Bom Jesus is located in Old Goa, just a short walk from central Gandhi Circle. It is free to enter and open daily. Mass is held in the basilica on Saturday and Sunday mornings.