Bom Jesus basilica: An abode of miracles

The imposing church holds the miracle-laden, incorruptible body of the 'Apostle of the Indies', St. Francis Xavier, affectionately called "Goencho Saib" by the natives.

Bom Jesus basilica: An abode of miracles

By Anitta Bejoy
A unique church located at Old Goa, the rustic edifice of Bom Jesus basilica('Bom' meaning good or infant) is the first example of Baroque architecture in India. The imposing church holds the miracle-laden, incorruptible body of the 'Apostle of the Indies', St. Francis Xavier, affectionately called "Goencho Saib" by the natives. The first church in India to be a minor basilica, it is recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage monument.

The church consecrated in May 1605 by archbishop Dom Fr. Aleixo de Menezes, is made of laterite stone and has a three-storied facade. Built of black granite, the facade of the church has the Jesuit emblem, IHS(Iesus Hominum Salvator), carved into its quadrangular pediment. The un-plastered facade of the basilica converges Doric, Ionic and Corinthian designs and stands it apart from the manifold churches in Goa. Floored in stone-inlaid, white marble, the basilica has a richly gilded altar and has a rather portly statue of St. Ignatious Loyola and Infant Jesus.



The incorruptible body of the saint is positioned in an airtight glass coffin and place in a silver casket depicting the events in the life of St. Francis Xavier in 32 silver plates. On top of the casket are two angels: one holds a legend expressing "Its enough Lord, it's enough" by the words, "Satis est Domine, Satis est", and the other holding a burning heart. The mausoleum in which the silver casket is kept was carved by a Florentine sculptor, Giovanni Batista Foggini.

The Navaresse-Basque Roman Catholic missionary, the fearless St. Francis, who took the vow of poverty, chastity and obedience under St. Ignatius Loyola, endeavoured in bringing the world to Christ. On December 3rd, the feast day of St. Francis, Goans come together irrespective of faith, at the Church to join in prayer and devotion, the remembrance of the saint. Pilgrims from near and distant corners of the world attend the festivities that "spiritually nourish" them in Christ.

St. Francis Xavier's body is taken out in a solemn procession to the Se Cathedral, within the proximity of the basilica, once in a decade, the last one being in 2014. Devotees around the globe flock to witness and experience this once-a-decade exposition of their beloved saint, the Goencho Saib.

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