Goa – the paradise of India, providing a soothing environment to relax , rejuvenate and to clam your senses is famous for its beaches, night life, wide range of cuisine and churches. In ancient times church building was the main occupation of the Portuguese. A major population of Goa consist of Christine, thus churches of Goa plays a major role in the social, religious and cultural life.
The Portuguese encouraged the spread of Christianity, often with repressive measures, such as the Goan Inquisition, leading to a significant population converting to Christianity. Now, majority of Goan People are following Christianity. You will find lots of ancient churches in Goa each having their own history.
Following are most famous churches in Goa
Basilica of Bom Jesus, Goa
The Basilica of Bom Jesus, “Good” or “Infant” Jesus, is a Catholic basilica in Goa, is given the status of Minor Basilica. This church house the tomb of St. Francis Xavier a member of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) who died on a sea voyage to China in 1552. Legend has it that when the body of Xavier was transferred to Goa the following year, the body was found as fresh as the day it was buried. Consequent to this miracle the title of ‘Saint’ was conferred on Xavier and his mortal remains, confined inside his tomb, attracts devotees from all over the world.
The Basilica of Bom Jesus is covered with marble and inlaid with precious stones and paintings depicting the life of St. Francis Xavier also is one of the richest church in Goa. This impressive structure boasts of pristine white marble flooring and has beautifully gilded altars decorated with frescoes and inlay work.
The Basilica is open to visitors from 9 am to 6.30 pm on weekdays and from 10 am to 6.30 pm on Sundays. Masses are held at 8 am and 9.15 am on Sunday and at 7 am and 8 am on weekdays. St Xavier is honored via special ceremonies which held every year on 3rd of December
Se Cathedral, Goa
Se Cathedral church is one of the largest churches in , Goa Asia,and India. The church is about 10kms from the capital Panaji and is situated in old Goa.This church is dedicated to St Catherine because Alfonso de Albuquerque conquered Goa on her feast day 25th November 1510.The interior of the church is a blend of Mosaic-Corinthian style having principal chapel. Main altar has the presence of four chapel on either side. The exterior of the church is a mix of Tuscan- Doric architecture.
The church is also called as Bell of Inquisition. There are two bell towers on the main facade, one of which towards north was collapsed on 25 July 1776 and the other remaining have five bells which include the “Golden bell” named so because of the rumored of mixing of gold during its creation which contributes to its melodic tone.
The church generally opens during 7.30 am to 6.30 pm on all weekdays.
St. Francis of Assisi ,Goa
The Church of St. Francis of Assisi is located in the same compound as the see Catherdal and is 9 km away from Panaji The church was a convent first and was developed into a church for the Franciscan friars in 1521.The church comprises of Mauline style main entrance, Tuscan style exterior and internal buttress wall separating the chapels and supporting intricate floral design gallery on top.
A statue of lady of miracles brought from Jaffna in Sri Lanka stands in niche of facade. A wooden statue of St. Francis of Assisi adorns a pedestal bearing the insignia of the Franciscans. To the left of one entrance is present a wooden pulpit, which is richly carved with floral design. A large statue of St. Francis of Assisi and an equally large statue of Jesus on the cross Is present in main altar, having three vows of the Saint – poverty, humility and obedience.
An archeological museum having a touch of Indo-Portuguese Baroque style is also present in the church. The museum was established in the convent in 1964 and comprises of 60 portraits of the Portuguese viceroys and governors of Goa.
St Jerome’s Church, Mapusa Goa
The church was constructed in 1594 and is about 2 km East from famous Mapusa bazzar.It is built on the site of Hindu temple destroyed by Portuguese. The church is locally known as St. Jerome’s church because of the celebration of Saint feast’s in October. The Milagres feast celebrated on every 3rd Sunday after Ester has made the church popularly known as Church of Our Lady of Milagres..
St. John the Baptist Statue is present on the right hand side of altar and St. Jeromeis statue is present on the left side of altar
The main altar of this 407 year old Church is dedicated to Our Lady Of Miracles whose feast day is celebrated on 2nd Monday after Easter. Our Lady is greatly venerated by both Hindus and Christians. Common legend has it that a zatra (Festival) of the Hindus almost inevitably is connected with the feast of Our Lady. It seems that Our Lady is a sister to the Hindu mother of the said zatra (called Shirgaun by the locals). The fair for the feast day remains for at least 3 days.
Mary Immaculate Conception Church, Panjim, Goa
Church of Mary Immaculate Conception is one of the earliest churches built in Goa. Located at the heart of Panaji, Goa. This church have the second largest church bell (known as Bell of Inquisition) in the world. The Church Square is an excellent example of the remarkable Portuguese Baroque style.
What you can look out for is the main altar dedicated to Mary Immaculate. There are two more altars, where the one on the left has Jesus Crucified and to the right is Our Lady of the Rosary. On both the sides there are two marble statues, one of St. Peter and the other of St. Paul. On the right of the main altar in the south transept there is a Chapel of St. Francis Xavier. There is also a high, symmetrical, crisscrossing stairway which is an interesting piece of architecture.
The feast of The Immaculate Conception is celebrated every year in Margao and Panjim on 8th Dec.