Basilica of Bom Jesus: A journey to the heart
The Basilica of Bom Jesus is amongst one of the oldest churches in Goa city, India. A basilica is a building, usually a church with a raised platform, and Bom Jesus means Holy Jesus. The church is famous for keeping the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier. He was a Catholic missionary, born in Spain in 1506. He was the one who spread Christianity in this part of the world including south-east Asia.
Major Attractions of the Basilica of Bom Jesus:
More than 460 years old mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier.
An art gallery describing the life of St. Francis Xavier.
Interior and artwork: As opposed to the exterior which is un-plastered, the interior of the church is rich in artwork and architecture.
A light and music show named: The journey to the heart.
A Stunning Experience of Visiting Basilica of Bom Jesus:
I reached the site at 11 am and walked in with few candles. From outside the church looks a massive yet straightforward structure with a big open space containing a church and garden on three sides of the church. The church is more than 410 years old, so I did not expect much from the interior. I entered the church, and the interior and other artworks were phenomenal and were depicting a different picture of the site as opposed to the outer structure. On seeing the freshness, I felt like the artwork was very new. But when I read more about it, I found most of the artwork was done in the seventeenth century only. I liked the artwork on the pillar the most which had the beautiful carvings and golden in color. This type of artwork is known as fresco. Fresco is a painting technique performed upon a freshly laid, or wet lime plaster.
I moved forward and found a place which had gathered the maximum crowd. This place had a board written RELICS on it and which has a dictionary meaning a part of a deceased holy person's body or belongings kept as an object of reverence. The board was held there so that no one misses to see the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier lying in the tomb of glass container encased in a silver casket.
There, I found a volunteer who gathered a group of people and started telling the stories about the burial of St. Francis Xavier. Francis died in December 1552 from fever in Shangchuan Island situated in southern China. His body was buried on the same day he died. In February 1553, his body was taken out from the coffin and taken to Portuguese Malacca which is in Malaysia. Francis was attached to Goa, and in the past shared his willingness to be buried in Goa after his death. In December 1553, his body was sent to Goa and buried in Goa. And, from 1624 the body of St. Francis Xavier was encased in a glass container in a silver casket.
Another story was about a lady who bit a small part of his toe as memory and kept it in her purse. While walking out of the church, the blood started gushing out, and people caught her.
The same volunteer also told us about the concept of Prayer healing. People of the church along with visitors pray for the healing of any wound or disease of a person. St. Francis Xavier also did many miracles in his lifetime by the Prayer healing. One of them was praying over the dead body of a drowned child. He ordered the child to rise in the name of Jesus Christ, and the boy returned to his life.
just at the exit of the main church, there was a small gallery of paintings and some statues.
This church also has a modern art gallery which consists of many wooden statues & model from different churches of Goa, many beautiful paintings depicting the life of St. Francis Xavier and some sketches of the Basilica of Bom Jesus church.
I loved a message God loves the cheerful giver conveyed in one of the pictures of Mother Teresa. St. Francis Xavier was one of the missionaries who was a cheerful giver and dedicated his life to understanding and solving other's illness and problems.
After visiting the modern art gallery, I came out and just near to it saw a heart-shaped worded door. The meaning of the words in English is The journey to the heart. Out of curiosity, I went nearby, and one lady told me that its a sound and light show running behind this door. This sound and light show takes us through the journey of different parts of the life of St. Francis Xavier. Unfortunately, clicking pictures was not allowed here. Then, I came out of the church and roamed around the open areas & garden.
More exciting fact about St. Francis Xavier:
In past, the church kept his body a little lower, and everyone could see and touch it. But, due to fear of damaging, a throne was built, and the church kept his body encased in the tomb over that throne. The grave is brought down once in every ten years for one month, and the general public can come and see his body. This event happened last time in 2014, and next time this will be in 2024. Around 3 million pilgrims came to see St. Francis Xavier in the year of 2014.
In November 1614, the lower part of his right arm was chopped off and was sent to Rome and still lies in Rome. In 1619, the upper arm was cut off, divided into three parts and sent to the Jesuit Colleges of Malacca, Cochin, and Macau.
After more than 200 years from the death of St. Francis Xavier, in 1774, doctors checked his body and found the wounds(from chopping off his right hand) were still fresh, his head still had hair, and there was no foul smell from the body.
When I look back and think about my experience of visiting Basilica of Bom Jesus, I keep recollecting the stories of St. Francis Xavier and his life. I hope I will attend this church in 2024 and will get a chance to see St. Francis Xavier.
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