Basilica of Bom Jesus
I have been visiting the Basilica of Bom Jesus church since my childhood days. Every time I visit the place I have a feeling that it brings all the goans together irrespective of religion, caste, creed etc.
The Basilica of Bom Jesus or Borea Jezuchi Bajilika (Portugese: Basílica do Bom Jesus) is located in the town of old Goa (capital of the Goa during portugese rule) and is a UNESCO World Heritage site presently maintained by the Archeology department, India. It holds the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier.
The Basilica of Bom Jesus is more than 408 years old and is open to the public everyday. This is one of the oldest churches in Goa as well as in India. The body of St. Francis Xavier is kept in a well-decorated casket.
The floor is of marble inlaid with precious stones. Apart from the elaborate gilded altars, the interior of the church is simple. The church also holds paintings of scenes taken from the life of St. Francis Xavier.
St. Francis Xavier was revered saint who came to Goa along with the Portuguese in order to spread Christianity. St. xavier was affectionately called Goincho Saib or the Lord of Goa. He died while going on a voyage to China. It is said that when his body was brought to Goa after a year to be buried, it was found that the body was as fresh as ever. This was deemed to be a miracle and his body was preserved in a glass coffin inside a beautiful silver casket. This still attract a huge number of devotees (Christian and non-Christian alike) from all over the world, especially during the public viewing of his body every ten years.
The Saint Francis Feast is celebrated every year on December 3rd to mark the death anniversary of the saint. Thousands of devotees come from all over the world during the feast to pay respect to the saint.
During the Feast of St. Xavier, the Basilica of Bom Jesus is decorated beautifully and entire Goa comes alive with celebrations and merrymaking. Since this occasion is an important one, people from all over the world come here to participate in the proceedings. The mass prayers begin as early as 4 am and people come from all over to take part in it. The feast usually is celebrated for around 9 days.