Old Goa - Today

The place where the Basilica of Born Jesus and the House for the Professed stand, was known as Terreiro dos ga/os because it was very famous for the cockfights which attracted many people. The cockfights were forbidden in 1549 by the Vice-Roy, Matias de Albuquerque.

The Jesuits who arrived for the first time in Goa in 1542, owned four big houses in Old Goa, namely, the well known Collegio de S. Paulo, the Born Jesus Church with the attached house, the Church of St. Rock with the Novitiate house, and a recreation house with beautiful fountains.

When the Jesuits were about to build the house for the Professed in 1585, they met with such a great opposition from the Senate, the Santa Casa de Misericordia and the Franciscans, that, but for a device to which they had recourse, they would have been probably compelled to abandon the project. Actually they were already residing there by 12th January 1586. The building we see today is but a part of the original edifice which was destroyed by fire in 1663. It was rebuilt, but it suffered again from a fire accident.

Attached to this house is the world famous Basilica of Born Jesus where the Relics of St. Francis Xavier are enshrined. The foundations were laid in 1594 and it was consecrated by D. Fr. Aleixo de Menezes in 1605. The Church was raised to the rank of a Minor Basilica by Pope Pius XII in 1946. The Church and the residential house were erected by the architects Bro. Domingos Fernandes and Julio Simão. When the Jesuits were expelled in 1759, it was placed under the care of the Archbishop. Later, a Seminary was established there, but when it was abolished, the house was entrusted to a Canon who thus became its Administrator. At present it is administered by an Administrative Committee appointed by the Archbishop.

This vault less, one - naved Church has a beautiful façade looking towards the west, with three elegant porticos. These porticos are topped by three large windows and above them we see three circular windows. The topmost part forms a quadrangle, richly embellished with arabesques with the Jesuits' emblem in the centre. This elaborate piece of workmanship is a combination of five architectural styles, viz, the Jonic, the Tuscan, the Corinthian, the Doric and the Composite.

Just inside the entrance, we see two pillars supporting the choir loft, with-two inscriptions, one in Portuguese and the other in Latin: ESTA IGREJA DE JE ISVS SE COMECOV A 24 DE NOVEMBRO DE 1594 E/CONSAGROV-A 0 REVE (RENDIS. E ILLUSTRIS. SENHOR D. FR. ALEIXO / DE MEN EZES ARCE / BISPO DE GOA PRI / MAS
DA INDIA ANNO / DO SENHOR 1605/15 DE MAIO (This Church of Jesus was begun on 24th November 1594. It was consecrated by the Most Rev. D. Fr. Aleixo de Menezes, Archbishop of Goa and Primate of the Indies in the year of the Lord 1605, on 15th May). HANC ECCLES lAM / JESV SOLEMNI RITU / CONSECRA VIT REVE / RENDISSIMUS ET IL / LUSTRISSIMVS D. ALEXIVS ARCHIE / PISCOPVS GOENSIS INDIAE PRIMAS / ANNO DOMINI / MDCXV. MA.

On the wall near the pulpit, there is the cenotaph of Dom Jeronimo Mascarenhas, the founder of this Church. Its apex is made of bronze, richly gilt and supported by two figures of lions. The exploits of this Captain are represented on four plates in deep relief, with the following inscription: SEPVL TVRA DE DOM HIERONI / MO MASCARENHAS, CAPITAM Q FOI DE COCHIM E ORMVZ, A CV / IA CVSTA SE FEZ ESTA IGREJA;IEMGRATIFICACAM A COMPANHIA/DE IESV THE DEDICOV ESTE LVGAR. FALECEO NO ANNO DE 1593. (The tomb of Don Hieronimo Mascarenhas, ex-Captain of Cochin and Ormuz, at whose cost this Church was built. In gratitude the Company of Jesus dedicated this place to him. He died in the year 1593).

The majestic pulpit on the right, embodies four sculptures of Evangelists and four of Doctors in bold relief. It stands on the bare back of seven strong figures, seven being a sacred number in the Holy Scriptures