The Basilica of Bom Jesus which is located in Goa is one of a kind in India. It is known for its exemplary baroque architecture. The Basilica was built in the year 1594 and was consecrated in the year 1605. The church is located in Old Goa in Bainguinim which is about 10 km away from Panjim, the capital of the state of Goa. This is the oldest church in Goa and it houses the remains of St. Francis Xavier, the patron saint of Goa who is popularly known as ‘Goencho Saib’. St Francis Xavier was a companion of St. Ignatius of Loyola with whom he founded the Society of Jesus, popularly known as the Jesuits.
St Francis Xavier died from a fever on the 3rd of December 1552, at Shangchuan, Taishan, China. His incorrupt body was shipped to Goa on the 11th of December 1553. After almost 500 years, the body is still in relatively good condition. Every 10 years, the relics of the Saint are lowered to ground level and are available for veneration by devotees. The last Exposition was in the year 2014, the next one is scheduled for 2024.
A site with rich cultural and religious significance, the Basilica of Bom Jesus has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The Word 'Bom Jesus' means 'Infant Jesus' or 'Good Jesus'. The Basilica is renowned throughout the Catholic world. This 16th century structure is India's first Minor Basilica. Built during the time of the Portuguese, the Basilica is considered as one of the best examples of baroque architecture in India.
The Basilica of Bom Jesus features a layout that follows simple Renaissance norms while the detailing and decoration within the Basilica is unabashed Baroque. It is a structure that incorporates white marble and wonderfully gilded altars decorated with frescoes and inlay work. Fr. Alexio de Menezes, a famous archbishop has been credited with the work of beginning the construction of the Basilica of Bom Jesus. The Basilica of Bom Jesus is one of the few churches that has not been plastered on the outside. Apparently, in the beginning, the Church was plastered with a white limestone plaster. It was then decided to scrape the plaster in order to give the Basilica a unique look. However in the recent years, the outer structure of the Basilica has suffered weathering from various forces of nature and hence replastering of the Basilica is now being considered.
The facade of the church has triangular roofing which is delicately carved with the initials 'IHS', which are the initials of the first three letters of the name of Jesus in Greek. The name of Jesus was very dear to St Ignatius of Loyola.
The interior is embellished with a screen that runs from the floor to the ceiling and has the image of St. Ignatius Loyola vested in Priestly Garments. St Ignatius is portrayed in contemplation. The Holy Trinity which is placed above is one of the scenes that gave great consolation to St Ignatius of Loyola.
The Basilica of Bom Jesus is over 400 years old and is open to the Public of all faiths. A dress code has recently been mandated.