Basilica of Bom Jesus
History and museums
The Basilica of Bom Jesus or Borea Jezuchi Bajilika (Portuguese: Basílica do Bom Jesus) is located in Goa, India, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The basilica holds the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier. The church is located in Old Goa, which was the capital of Goa in the early days of Portuguese rule.
'Bom Jesus' (literally, 'Good (or Holy) Jesus') is the name used for the Ecce Homo in the countries of Portuguese colonization. The Jesuit church is India’s first minor basilica, and is considered to be one of the best examples of baroque architecture in India.
Construction work on the church began in 1594 after destruction of the Saptakoteshwar Shiva temple during early 1590's. The church was consecrated in May 1605 by the archbishop, Dom Fr. Aleixo de Menezes. This world heritage monument has emerged as a landmark in the history of Christianity. It contains the body of St. Francis Xavier, a very close friend of St. Ignatius Loyola with whom he founded the Society of Jesus, (the Jesuits). Francis Xavier died on Sancian Island while en route to continental China on (December 2, 1552).
The body of Francis Xavier was first taken to Portuguese Malacca and two years later shipped back to Goa. It is said that the saint's body was as fresh as the day it was buried. The remains of the saint 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 (last held in 2014). The saint is said to have miraculous powers of healing.
This is one of the oldest churches in Goa and in India. 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. The mausoleum, on the top of which is placed the silver casket with the body of St. Francis Xavier (1696), was the gift of the last of the Medicis, Cosimo III, the Grand Duke of Tuscany.
The mausoleum was designed by the 17th-century Florentine sculptor Giovanni Battista Foggini. It took ten years to complete. The casket containing his body is made of silver. The holy relics of the saint are displayed every ten years during the anniversary of the saint's death. His liturgical feast is 3 December.
On the upper level, overlooking the tomb, is the Bom Jesus Basilica Art Gallery, containing the works of the Goan surrealist painter, Dom Martin.
Author and fellow Jesuit Anthony De Mello was also from Goa and mentions the basilica in his writings.
The Basilica of Bom Jesus is more than 408 years old and is open to the public every day. The body of St. Francis Xavier is in a well-decorated casket, which can be seen in the photographs below. Solemn exhibitions of the 'body' are held every ten years. Some photos taken inside the church are attached for better understanding of the art work of that time. These art works are called "murals".