BASILICA OF BOM JESUS
The Church Of Bom Jesus
The Church of Bom Jesus is also of laterite; its exterior,
excepting the facade, was lime plastered, which was subsequently
removed. The roof was originally tiled. The church is cruciform
on plan. The flying buttresses on the northern side of the
church are recent additions. A single-storeyed structure adjoining
the church on its southern wing connects it with the professed
The three-storeyed facade facing west, shows Ionic, Doric
and Corinthian Orders, and a main entrance flanked by two
smaller ones, each having Corinthian columns supporting a
pediment. Within the church are two chapels, a main altar
and a sacristy besides a choir at the entrance. A belfry is
at the back.
A Blend of Renaissance & Baroque Styles
A projecting gallery, which was intended for the use of dignitaries
on solemn occasions, runs along the two longer sides. Excepting
the richly gilded altars, the interior of the church is remarkable
for its simplicity. While the facade has the classical orders
of the Renaissance, the altars are in Baroque style.
The church is called "Bom Jesus" meaning 'good
Jesus' or 'infant Jesus' to whom it is dedicated. The facade
has on it, at the top, the letters, "HIS" which
are the first three letters of Jesus in Greek. The two columns
supporting the choir bear slabs inscribed in Portuguese and
Latin recording that the construction of this Church of Jesus
was commenced on 24 November 1594 and Fr. Alexia de Menezes,
the Archbishop of Goa and Primate of India consecrated it
on 15 May 1605, when it was completed.
Within The Church's Domicile
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.
Opposite the cenotaph, projecting on the southern wall is
a profusely carved wooden pulpit with a canopy on top. The
pulpit has on its three sides the figures of Jesus, the four
evangelists and four doctors of the church. The bottom of
the pulpit depicts seven figures as though supporting it.
The Main Altar
The main altar at the end of the nave is flanked by two decorated
altars in the transept, one dedicated to Our Lady of Hope
and the other to St. Michael. 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 fervour at a medallion on which is inscribed "HIS".
Above the medallion, the Holy trinity - the Father, the Son
and the Holy Ghost are depicted. In the transept on the northern
side is the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament.
On the southern side in the transept is a chapel with gilded
twisted columns and floral decorations of wood, where the
sacred relics of the body of St. Francis Xavier are kept.
The interior of this chapel is richly adorned with wooden
carvings and paintings, depicting the scenes from the life
of the Saint.
The Ornate Grandeur
The rectangular base of the tomb is of jasper of reddish and
purple colours decorated with carvings in white marble. Above
the basement is another rectangular mass of slightly lesser
dimensions having a plaque in bronze on each of its four sides
depicting the scenes from the life of the saint, and two cherubs
Depicting The Life Of St. Xavier Through Paintings
On the southern wall are paintings in Italian School arranged
in three rows. In the bottom row are two paintings showing
St. Francis Xavier being received by certain Portuguese noblemen
and his interview with the King of Bango in Japan. In the
middle row are three paintings respectively showing Xavier
praying with fervour for cessation of plague that broke out
in Manas Island, kissing the repulsive ulcer wound of a patient
in a hospital at Venice and the Pope Paul III pronouncing
his apostolic benediction on the eve of his departure to India.
In the top row are, three paintings of Xavier as a servant
of a knight, his sad demise at Sancian, an island off the
coast of China and the saint in ecstasy. There are also other
paintings on the remaining three sides of the chapel, fixed
in decorated wooden frames depicting the scenes from his life
and the miracles performed by him. A painting, in oil on canvas,
of ST. Francis Xavier is mounted on the top of the wooden
door at the back of the chapel.