Built at the turn of the 17th century by Florentine sculptor Giovanni Battista Foggini, this red-stone church is one of the oldest in India. It's also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. While it's dedicated to the baby Jesus, many people choose to visit because the basilica holds the remains of St. Francis Xavier, the patron saint of Goa.
While the exterior of the Basilica de Bom Jesus is impressive, with an imposing facade made of red sandstone pulled from the sea, the interiors are particularly striking as well. Inside you'll find gold-gilded altars, white marble floors with stone inlay, and lots of paintings of St. Francis Xavier. The saint's tomb sits to the right of the altar, and his remains are displayed once per decade.
The basilica can be viewed as part of a day trip to Goa; visitors may choose a dedicated cultural heritage tour, or combine historical sights with beaches, markets, and more. Hop-on hop-off bus tours also stop at the basilica.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Dress modestly out of respect for local culture, with your knees and shoulders covered.
- The basilica is arguably the most important church in Goa and it’s a must-visit for history buffs.
- If you come during Mass, stay in the pews and wait until the service is over before you walk around or take photos.
How to Get There
The basilica is situated in the heart of Old Goa, or Velha Goa as it's known locally, and virtually all tours of Old Goa stop here. It's about 20 minutes’ drive to Old Goa from Panaji, the state capital, or about 40 minutes from Calangute. If you're coming from farther north—such as from Anjuna or Chapora—give yourself at least an hour to get here.
When to Get There
The basilica is open Monday through Friday and on Sunday. It's closed Saturday, except during special religious services. Mass is held twice every morning on weekdays, and again once in the evening, with Sunday services in English and Konkani. The church also offers special programs for the Feast of St. Francis Xavier on December 3.
St. Francis Xavier: The Patron Saint of Goa
Francis Xavier was one of the founders of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). He traveled to India in 1542 as a missionary and is celebrated for the work he did to spread Catholicism in India, particularly in the South. However, he was also behind the Goa Inquisition, which led to severe punishments of Catholic people who were suspected of practicing Hinduism in secret.