Old Goa: Basilica de Bom Jesus and the museum

Old Goa (9 am to 5 pm)

The Basilica of Bom (the good) Jesus is a World Heritage Site that contains the remains of St. Francis Xavier and is revered by Christians around the world. Built by the Jesuits in 1594, it is a mixture of various architectural styles including Baroque and Corinthian. In 1946 it became the first church in South Asia granted the status of Minor Basilica (by Pope Pius XII).

The gilded altar and wooden pulpit are quite elaborate but the rest of the interior is very simple. But it is the marble and jasper tomb of St. Francis that draws people from all over the world. Francis Xavier was sent to Goa in 1542 by Dom Joao III, the Portuguese King. Over the next few years he converted 30,000 people. When he died on a voyage off the coast of China in 1552, he was buried on an island. Three months later his body was dug up and showed no signs of decay. His body was prinstine a year later when his body was enshrined in the Basilica. This was delcared a miracle and he was caononized in 1622.

Every ten years (usually starting in December), an exposition of St. Francis' relics takes place for 10-12 days and draws thousands of pilgrims. The next one is set for 2014

Dont Miss the The Archaeological Museum, Old Goa

There are large paintings of the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama and founder Alfonso de Albuquerque There is a large coin collection that traces the chequered history of Goa and its occupation by various rulers, including the Portuguese.

The courtyard or enclosed garden of the convent is well maintained. An air of peace and tranquility still surrounds the churches, each one of them now virtually a museum in itself, recording the history of Goa.