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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 house.

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.

The Chapel
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 holding scrolls.


Religious significance
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.

 



     


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