Monday, July 14, 2014

Bom Jesus

I've been to the Basilica of Bom Jesus in Old Goa several times. It is a beautiful and powerful experience each time. Last summer was the first time I offered Mass at the tomb of the great missionary, St. Francis Xavier. The Basilica is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and is one of the top tourist destinations in Goa, a state otherwise known for its beaches and susegad, a carefree approach to life (and alcohol), uncharacteristic of the rest of India.

Last year, the Rector of the Basilica shared stories of miraculous healings, as well as exorcisms associated with the relics of St. Francis, and of folks coming from far away, even non-Christians, who had heard of the saint's powerful intercession. He also let me venerate one of the first class relics of the Saint, which is kept at the foot of the altar of the tomb.

Panorama of the Sacristy
Yesterday, the Rector was out of town, but had left instructions with the Sacristan to set up for Mass for me. The sacristy itself is simply stunning, with several relics of holy martyrs, and beautiful artwork. I arrived early (by Indian standards), just before 10:00 a.m. There were few tourists and pilgrims. I had brought along my 1962 travel Missal and altar cards. With no congregation, I figured this would be an excellent time to offer Mass in the usus antiquior (even without a maniple, or a chalice veil and burse!). As with other sites of pilgrimage, one is able to offer the Mass of the patronal feast throughout the year.

Visiting priests normally offer Mass on an altar on the side of the tomb. There is little room there for any congregation. A metal grate, normally locked, seals access from the corridor. My (Hindu) cousin had came along with me, and he stayed for Mass. Soon after Mass started, I became aware of someone assisting, on the other side of the grate. It was an older gentleman, who heard Mass quietly and received Holy Communion.

The incorrupt remains of the holy saint attract the faithful as well as the curious. This year is the decennial exhibition of his relics, from Nov. 22, 2014 through Jan 4, 2015. They're expecting up to 5 million to attend, and though the Holy Father was invited, he will not be attending.

The website of the basilica.

The rather threadbare Wikipedia entry.

The rest of the photos from this year's visit.

Last year's photos


Ollllddude said...

Out of curiosity, when you use your 1962 Missal, what do you do for scriptural readings?

Fr. Gaurav Shroff said...

Well, I've only ever celebrated with the 1962 Missal privately. I use the Scripture readings from the Missal itself, according to the vetus ordo.