One of the most popular churches in Goa, the Basilica of Bom Jesus truly deserves to be given the status of a World Heritage Site. It is located in Old Goa which was the capital city during the Portugal rule. The Basilica of Bom Jesus is famous for the preserved mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier, patron saint of Goa, who died while on a sea voyage to China on December 2, 1552. The following year, while transferring his remains to Goa, in accordance with his wishes, 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 lakhs of pilgrims. During the 450 years of Portuguese rule in Goa, St. Francis Xavier was believed to have accorded protection to the rulers who handed over their symbols of office to the saint during every changeover of the office of Governor General. The Saint had miraculous healing powers which were experienced by the erstwhile Nizam of Hyderabad when he came for the Exposition of 1878.
The ruins of St. Augustine church is a very popular tourist attraction and one of the most spectacular monuments in Goa. The church was built in 1602 with the combined efforts of 12 Augustinians. They also built a convent besides the church. However, the Portuguese government in India put a ban on them and they abandoned the church and the convent. The Saint Augustine church was considered to be one of the greatest of three Augustinian churches. Now, only the ruins of the front portion of the church and magnificent tower remain.
The tower in the ruins of St. Augustine church is the main attraction. This huge tower reaches upto a staggering height of around 46 meters. It had four stories and was originally meant to be a belfry. The church had a giant bell that was removed and is now at the Church of our Lady of the Immaculate Conception located in Panaji. The church had eight beautifully adorned chapels and four decorated altars. There was also a convent attached to the church.
Around the year 1931, the church began to fall apart and the façade and half of the tower were lost. Thereafter, the church began to deteriorate rapidly and many parts fell off. The whole body of the church finally gave way due to neglect and natural forces. The portico and the tower are still present and look absolutely splendid despite being in ruins. The ruins of St. Augustine are visited by many tourists from all over the world, which was once the largest church in Goa.
Location: Old Goa, 10 kilometers from Panaji
Highlights: Architecture has a combination of Hindu and Christian elements
How to Reach: St. Francis of Assisi Church can be reached easily by hiring local transport like cab, auto or even bus from Panaji or anywhere in Goa.
A stunning and charming building, the Church of St. Francis of Assisi is located in Old Goa at a distance of some 10 kilometers from the capital city, Panaji. The Church of St. Francis of Assisi is at the same complex in which Se Cathedral is located. The Church of St. Francis of Assisi of Goa was built during 1517-1521 AD. St. Francis of Assissi Church of India has now been turned into a museum. An interesting fact about the church is that the architectural style of the church has a mix of Christian and Hindu elements.
In 1521, the church was consecrated to the Holy Spirit but was demolished after some time. The church that is present here today was built in 1661. The entrance hall of the earlier church remained as it is. When the new church was built, there was also an educational institution within the church. However the institution was closed down by the Portuguese government sometime around 1835. In 1964, the Indian government converted the St. Francis of Assisi Church into a museum. Ancient relics and old paintings are now displayed here.
The design and construction of the church is very intricate and much attention has been given to the details. Though in size, it is much smaller than Se Cathedral and the Basilica of Bom Jesus, the carvings and decoration is as striking as in those churches. The church is painted generously and the altars are carved beautifully. The interiors of the church are decorated with depictions from the Bible whereas the walls are carved with floral designs. The paintings in the church have a very distinctive Indian feel. There is a statue of St. Michael right at the entrance of the church. The congregation hall is heavily decorated with carvings and one finds two large statues of Jesus Christ and St. Francis of Assisi.
Location: Located en route Old Goa to Ponda
Highlights: Ruins of an old church maintained beautifully
How to Reach: One can hire local transport like taxi, auto or even a bus from anywhere in Goa and reach this church.
The St. Paul Church is a ruined church that is a popular tourist attraction in Goa. It is located on the road that one takes from Old Goa to reach Ponda. One can always hire local transport to reach this lovely church. The church of St. Paul in Goa was set up because of the efforts of two priests namely Diogo de Borba and Miguel Vaz. These two priests had established Santa Fe confraternity in India. The construction of the church was finished on 25th January, 1543, which is the day of Feast of Conversion of St. Paul.
The St. Paul church was a very famous educational institution in India and was considered among the leading educational institutions here. Not only was primary education imparted here, but one could earn a degree in higher education in subjects like Music, Latin, Arts and Sciences. Higher education included a Master's as well as the Doctorate degree. Some years later the old building was demolished and two separate buildings were constructed that were connected by a common passage. There was a big library, a hospital as well as a house for those who were converted recently.
The St. Paul church was also credited to have set up the first printing press in Asia. The first printed publications were circulated from this place only. Around the year 1560, this building was pulled down and the foundation was laid for a bigger church. However, there was stringent opposition from Augustinians and Nuns of Santa Monica. In fact, the building was set afire at least four times by some enemies of Jesuits between 1591 and 1675. The church also had mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier that were preserved in a silver casket, which was later shifted to Basilica of Bom Jesus. In the year 1829, the government decided to demolish it properly since it was already in a dilapidated state. The archway and some part of the front entrance still remains on the road that leads to Ponda from Old Goa.
The St. Cajetan church is located in Old Goa near the Se cathedral church. The church is visited by numerous tourists because of exquisite architecture. This vast and strikingly beautiful church has been constructed on the primary design of the Basilica of St. Peter located in Rome. The architectural style is basically Corinthian in nature and is used generously inside as well outside the church. The Saint Cajetan church of India was originally named as Church of Our Lady of Divine Providence.
The church has been constructed using laterite blocks and has been plastered with lime. The stunning altars are golden and are decorated with lovely carvings in the Baroque style. The architectural style of the temple is very famous all over the world and never fails to amuse tourists who visit this place. Inside the church, you will find three altars at the left that are dedicated to Holy family of Our Lady of Piety and St. Clare. On your right, you will find the altars of St. Cajetan, St. John and St. Agnes.
The altar dedicated to St. Cajetan is the largest in the church. A wooden platform emerges from one of the docks and is beautifully adorned and decorated. There is a well in the premises of the church that is very old. The presence of this well has made many historians speculate that there was a Hindu temple at this site. The temple might have been destroyed during the time of invasion. Some others believe that the well was planned by the architect in order to provide stability to the structure.
The Church of Mary Immaculate Conception is one of the most famous landmarks of Goa. This church is supposed to be one of the earliest churches to be constructed in Goa. Tourists come to the Mary Immaculate Conception Church of India to feel blessed and to marvel at the magnitude of its construction. The church looks magnificent and stunningly beautiful. The decoration inside the church is relatively simple, still exudes charm and beauty.
The Church of Mary Immaculate looks absolutely dazzling after sunset. This is because during dusk, the church is lit up with numerous light bulbs giving it the look of a heavenly paradise. The lit up church against the backdrop of the night sky looks absolutely marvelous and stunning. The interiors of the church are quite simple yet elegant. The background of the main altar is extensively decorated which makes it look beautiful. The two altars besides the main altar are also very beautiful to look at and are dedicated to Jesus Christ and Our Lady of Rosary.
The Church of Mary Immaculate Conception is famous for the 2nd largest bell in the world. The church is built in a simple way from inside. There are two marble statues of St Paul and one of St Peter at the side of each altar. Then, there is the chapel of St. Francis Xavier located at the south of the main altar. Here, a statue of the saint has been kept in a glass case. The church is visited usually in the evenings when one can see this monument in its full splendor. It makes a good picnic spot and is a must visit if you are going to Goa.