It is a noted fact that the majority of the population of Goa practice Christianity, courtesy the Portuguese invasion decades ago. Hence, most of the events and festivals celebrated and hosted here give you English feels. Goa's Feast of St. Francis Xavier is also one such festival that is celebrated with much pomp and show every year in December.
It is more of an honoring festival for the Lord of Goa, Saint Francis Xavier. The remains of St. Francis Xavier lies in a silver casket in the Basilica of Bom Jesus Church in Goa, where the festival is conducted every year. Christians from all parts of the country arrive here to offer prayers and visit the holy church.
St. Francis Xavier was born in 1507 in present-day Spain and came to India in 1543 along with the Portuguese Viceroy of Goa. He preached Christianity to the Goans and breathed his last on December 2, 1552. On December 3, his mortal remains were placed in a casket and was placed in the Basilica of Bom Jesus Church. St.
According to popular legends, Portuguese merchants placed the mortal remains of Saint Xavier in the coffin along with unslaked limes. After some time a member from the society of Jesus (a Jesuit) ungraved the body and found out that it has not at all decomposed.
Locals also say that a cut was made on his finger by Jesuit and he was shocked to see blood coming out of it. It was after this only that Francis Xavier was conferred the title of a Saint.
One of Saint Xavier’s hands was also cut out from his body after this incident and its pieces were sent to many churches all over the world on Pope’s order.
Until 1994, on every tenth death anniversary of Saint Francis Xavier, his body was brought out and placed in a glass box with his feet exposed. People from around the world used to arrive in Goa during the festival to have a glimpse of the holy Saint. After 1994, the body was never brought out for public display due to its deteriorating condition.
For the unversed, Francis Xavier is also known as ‘GoenchoSaib’ which means, The Lord of Goa.
1. Novena. It is a period of 9 days wherein prayers take place in the church in honour of Saint Francis Xavier. After 9 days of prayers, many ceremonies are hosted which is participated by the locals and devotees from across the globe. Many customs are followed by the pilgrims too, who get together on the Feast day. All in all, this is a major occasion for Christians and is worth attending.
2. The Feast. On the day of the feast, Saint Francis is offered flowers, and candles by the devotees. The prayers are followed by a feast wherein people are served food and drinks. Food, clothing, and accessory stalls are also a part of the festival. People often spend their time shopping at these stalls, eating and engaging with fellow devotees and friends.
Goa is a dream vacation destination for many people in the country courtesy its exotic beaches, picturesque locations, and great ambiance. The state has beaches, churches, cafes, greenery and positive vibes in abundance and it’s really hard to resist all that!
Owing to well developed and well-connected roadways, airways and railways network you can reach Goa through various modes and routes. From Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Bengaluru, Goa is approximately 1,900, 580, 2,100, and 580 km away respectively. Below mentioned are a few best travel options to reach Goa.
By Road. If you are planning a road trip to Goa's Basilica of Bom Jesus Church by road then you have to cover nearly:
Another comfortable and economical option is to travel via inter-state tourist buses that run between different states and can be booked online as well.
By Rail. To reach the capital city of Goa, which is Panaji, Madgaon is the nearest railway station located at a distance of about 35km from the city. People can easily find a taxi or a bus from the station which will take them to the city of Panaji or Panjim.
Here are the trains you need to take from different Indian cities:
By Air. Dabolim Airport or Goa International Airport is the nearest airport to reach Basilica of Bom Jesus. From the airport, one is required to take a taxi or a bus to travel an additional 30km to reach the church.
Almost all the major airlines such as Air India, IndiGo, SpiceJet, Vistara, GoAir, and AirAsia run non-stop flights to Goa from all the metro cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Bengaluru. Due to regular and fairly frequent flight connectivity, you may consider traveling by air if time is a constraint and comfort is your priority.