Old Goa - Today
CASA PROFESSA E BASILICA DO BOM JESUS
(BASILICA OF BOM JESUS & PROFESSED HOUSE)
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
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