Churches in Goa are known for its intricate architecture not just in Goa or India but all across the world. Basilica of Bom Jesus is one such church in Goa which attracts lakhs of pilgrims. Most of the churches in Goa display a tiered frontpiece and are framed with columns and pilasters. They belong to the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. The local population, with their artistically receptive minds, assimilated the symbols of Christian art.
GOA BASILICA OF BOM JESUS
Basilica of Bom Jesus in Old Goa, built in 1605, is quite a popular place to visit in Goa. The history of this Goan church is as interesting as the beautiful architecture that this church in Goa is proud of. Basilica of Bom Jesus has now been declared a World Heritage Monument. This church in Goa is famous because the sacred relics of St.Francis Xavier are kept in this church. St.Francis Xavier, patron saint of Goa, died while on a sea voyage to China on December 2, 1552. As per his wishes, the following year, while transferring his remains to Goa, it was found that the saint’s body was as fresh as the day it was buried. This miraculous phenomenon continues to attract the devout from all lands, and an exposition or public viewing of his body every ten years attracts lakh of pilgrims.
GOA SE CATHEDRAL
The Se Cathedral in Goa is dedicated to St. Catherine. It was on her feast day, 25th November 1510, that Alphonso de Albuquerque conquered Goa. The Cross of Miracles, placed in the cathedral in Goa, attracts lot of people. It seems the Goans had a vision of Christ on this cross and the rock on which it was found was said to spout water. Today, the cross in Goa is slowly growing. Earlier, it was at Se Cathedral that the sacred relics of St. Francis Xavier were shown to the public.
VARIOUS OTHER GOA CHURCHES
The Church of St. Francis of Assisi in Goa, part of the archaeological museum, exhibits prehistoric items from a distant tribal past and also reminds of Goa Dourada or Golden Goa. The Church of St. Cajatan, built by an Italian architect in 1651, was modeled in miniature on St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
In Velha Goa, or Old Goa, crowning a hill which was known as the Holy hill, is one of the earliest churches, the Church of Our Lady of Rosary. In the capital of Goa, Panaji, the oldest church is dedicated to Our Lady of Immaculate Conception. The huge Convent of Santa Monica, dating from 1606, was the first Nunnery in Asia. Today, after centuries of changing fortunes, it has been restored and is once again a residential convent.
The Reis Magos Church or Church of the Three Magi Kings, built in 1555, was once a mission center of the Franciscan Order of Monks. Also in Bardez Taluka, at Saligao, amongst picturesque surroundings, stands the Church of Mae de Dens or Mother of God. The statue after whom this church was named once occupied a convent, now no longer extant, and was known for its miraculous powers. This church is a fine instance of Gothic architecture. The Church of St. Alex at Curtorim, too, dates from the 16th century. The Church of St. Anne, at Talaulin Iltias, affectionately called Santana by the people, is dedicated to the Mother of Mary. It is situated on the right bank of the Siridao River. The Rachol Seminary in South Goa has a chequered past. Originally a Muslim fortress, it was first converted by the Portuguese into a church and later into a prison. In the late 16th century, it acquired respectability as a seminary for Theological Studies, with the Jesuits re-christening it from College of All Saints to the College of St. Ignatius Loyola, the name of their founder.
While these Catholic institutions have survived the ravages of time, a visit to the ruins of lost churches, of which there are many, would help to discover further the truths of a remarkable period of religious activity on the shores of India.