My quest for spirituality and an architectural wonder takes a pause with the Basilica of Bom Jesus in Old Goa. The construction of the church was started in 1594 and consecrated in 1605. The church opens up to hundreds of people everyday from around the globe who come there to see a glimpse of the sacred relics of St.Francis Xavier. St.Francis Xavier was one of the architects of the ” society of Jesus” (Jesuits). Francis Xavier lost his life on the Sancian Island while en route to continental China on December 2, 1552. Over the centuries various parts of his body were taken as relics by the religious and other organizations. Out of which a major portion of that has been encased in a silver casket kept atop a marble mausoleum in the
Basilica of Bom Jesus at Old Goa. To be specific, the urn has a ”shriveled skull, two legs, the left arm and hand and heaps of bones, loose vertebrae, fragments of ribs and pieces of skin. The church is considered as a shrine not only of St. Francis Xavier but also of Christianity. It is said that the saints body was as fresh as the day it was buried. A special feast is called every ten years on the 3rd of December where the sacred relics is kept for the public to see. The feast sees lacs of devotees, Christian as well as non Christian alike from all over the world. The saint is considered to have miraculous healing powers. The mausoleum was designed by the 17th century Florentine sculptor Giovanni Battista Foggini and It took ten years to complete.
The church is a worthwhile exploration. The church is not merely a destination but an experience. This Portuguese piece of architecture is counted among the UNESCO world heritage sites and mesmerises all its visitors. Talking about the exteriors of the monument, the church is not plastered by cement, but it adds an impressive rustic feel to the entire structure. The interiors are marble floored maintaining its elegance and simplicity. The church cruciform on plan has three storied facade having a main entrance flanked by two other smaller entrances. The entire facade has molded basalt casing and the remaining part is exposed in Laterite. At the top the letter ”IHS” symbolizing the first three letter of Jesus in Greek. The main altar is flanked by the altars of our lady of hope and St. Michael. The richly gilded main altar has infant Jesus and above it is a large statue of St. Ignatius Loyola and an ”IHS” medallion. The chapel on left hand side is of the holy sacrament whereas that of right hand side has the relics of the body of St. Francis Xavier. The interior of the chapel is adorned with scenes from the life of the saint.
The article was contributed by Ankita Joseph from St. Xaviers College Goa, pursuing her journalism studies. She is a vivid Dancer and expresses her views with the pen.