Churches in North Goa

I had heard of St. Francis of Assisi (a saint who came to India to preach Christianity) and had also quoted a few of his teachings in some of the public speeches I happened to make whiile in Sunday School. So it was a privilege to visit the two churches that were dedicated to this Saint, in some way or the other.

We first visited Basilica of Bom Jesus, which is situated on Old Goa Road. The church is called 'Bom Jesus' as it is dedicated to Infant Jesus. This Church is famous not only because it is one of the oldest churches in India but also because it is declared as a World Heritage Site. More importantly, this church houses the mortal remains of St. Francis. the Church has a main altar and 2 chapels. It is one of these chapels that contains the embalmed body of the Saint- well preserved in a glass coffin protected by a silver casket. Standing in front of the casket, I felt a sense of awe and reverence for the holy Saint.

I was told that this is one of the richest churches in Goa and I was not surprised, given the complete marble flooring that was decorated with semi precious stones. The paintings on the walls of the church were also very beautiful and almosr life-like. There is an Art Gallery on the top floor of the church, which showcases breathtaking pil and ink paintings and wooden statues from the 16th century Portguese era. I was truly amazed by the beauty and simplicity of this church that withstood the test of time and tide.

Our next stop was at the Church of St. Francis of Assisi, dedicated to the Saint himself, as the name suggests. This was built by the Portugese during the 16th century. THe church is made of white laterite blocks and has a main altar, 2 small altars and 3 chapels. There are 2 statues- of St. Francis and of Jesus, at the main altar. On either sides of the altar, ther are beautiful wooden paintings, depicting various moments from the life of St. Francis. Beside the church is a large Archeological Museum, which has exhibits that depict both Christian and Hindu Goan history.

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