The Bom Jesus Basilica, perhaps Goa's most famous church and among the most revered by Christians worldwide, is partially in ruins but still a model of simplicity and elegance, and a fine example of Jesuit and Baroque architecture in Goa. Located at Old Goa, 10 kms east of Panaji, the Bom Jesus Basilica is a World Heritage Monument. The church is called "Bom Jesus" meaning 'good Jesus' or 'infant Jesus' to whom it is dedicated. The façade has on it, at the top, the letters, "HIS" which are the first three letters of Jesus in Greek.
As one enters, beneath the choir, to the right is an altar of St. Anthony and to the left is an exceedingly well-carved wooden statue of St. Francis Xavier. In the middle of the nave on the northern wall is the cenotaph of the benefactor of this church, Dom Jeronimo Mascarenhas, the Captain of Cochin, who died in 1593, bequeathing the resources out of which this church was built. The richly gilded main altar has the figure of infant Jesus and above it is a large statue of St. Ignatius Loyola, founder of the order of Jesuits, gazing with fervor at a medallion on which is inscribed "HIS". Above the medallion, the Holy trinity - the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost are depicted.
This is one of the oldest churches in Goa, as well as in India
. The floor is of marble inlaid with precious stones. Apart from the elaborate gilded altars, the interior of the church is simple. The church also holds paintings of scenes taken from the life of St. Francis Xavier. The mausoleum, on the top of which is placed the silver casket with the body of St. Francis Xavier (1696), was the gift of the last of the Medicis, Cosimo III, the Grand Duke of Tuscany. On the upper level, overlooking the tomb, is the Bom Jesus Basilica Art Gallery, containing the works of the Goan surrealist painter, Dom Martin.
The Basilica of Bom Jesus is more than 400 years old and is open to the public everyday. The body of St. Francis Xavier is kept in a well-decorated casket, which can be seen in the photographs below. Solemn exhibitions of the 'body' are held every ten years. Some photos taken inside the church are attached for better understanding of the art work of that time. These art works are called "murals".