The Churches of Goa: Archives of architecture

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Basilica of Bom Jesus

Probably the most famous church in Goa and one among the most revered by Christians globally, the Basilica of Bom Jesus in Old Goa is famed for housing the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier. This complex, along with some other churches of Old Goa, features on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

Its exterior facade, built using black granite, is famed for Baroque architecture combined with Doric, Corinthian and composite influences.

Inside, the main altar is 30 feet wide and 54 feet high, and its pillars have been crafted using basalt from Bassein, approximately 300 km away.

On November 24, 1594, the foundation stone of the church was laid and it was consecrated on May 15, 1605 by the Archbishop of Goa, Father Alexia de Menezes. It was raised to the status of basilica in 1946.

Richly gilded, it features the figure of infant Jesus Christ, above which is a statue of St. Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuit order. The latter gazes at a medallion, and above this is depicted the Holy Trinity (the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit).

The southern side of the Basilica houses the chapel wherein are preserved the sacred relics St. Francis Xavier. The church’s interiors are richly adorned with wood carvings and paintings that depict scenes from the lives of St. Xavier.

The silver casket, which contains the sacred relics of the Saint, is divided into seven panels. Each contains two plates that are representative of the incidents of the Saint’s life.

The Basilica of Bom Jesus is the only church in the state to not have plastered exteriors.

Church of St Francis of Assisi

Located in the main square of Old Goa, the Church of St Francis of Assisi is around 10 kilometres from Panaji, the capital of Goa. Along with a convent, the church was established by eight Franciscan friars who arrived in Goa in 1517.

Retaining the Portuguese-Manueline style portal of its older structure, which was built in 1665, the Church of St Francis of Assisi offers a fascinating visual contrast between its simple exterior facade and its lavish Baroque interiors. Featuring Corinthian influences, the latter is beautifully decorated.

Its main altar is the highlight, with a large statue of St Francis of Assisi above it, along with another of Jesus Christ. It is flanked on either side by paintings on wood about the life and times of its patron saint.

The church started off as a chapel was upgraded to a church in 1521 and consecrated in 1602 with the present structure built in 1661. Contiguous to the church is the convent, which is now home to a museum.

Set up by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in 1964, it houses paintings, sculptures and other artefacts related to the history and culture of Goa.

The church, facing west, contains a nave with three chapels on both sides, two altars, a main altar and a choir.

The interiors of the church are decorated with paintings related to events that took place in the life of St Francis along with other statues, frescoes with intricate floral designs and carved woodwork.

Credits: Story

Virtual Tour courtesy Archaeological Survey of India

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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