The historical Reis Magos Church , Portuguese Goa

The Reis Magos Church,

Reis Magos church and fort c. 1900, Goa

Next to Kerala, south India, Goa has the unique distinction of having lots of old colonial churches built during the reign of the Portuguese who had landed in India and set up the settlements in 1500s prior to the arrival of the British. Many of these beautiful churches are historical monuments that remind us of the  strong Portuguese influence  in this part of India. The Portuguese rulers became unpopular because of their poor understanding of the deeply religious  Indian natives, religious suppression and the introduction of the most dreaded Goa Inquisition. Thus they dug their own grave in Goa and the British, subsequently, through deft handling of the natives,  coupled with innate administrative skills, put the Portuguese out of power for good.

Reis Magos church, Goa.

The Reis Magos is a famous church located in a scenic village on the banks of River Mandovi  in Bardez taluk, North Goa (near Panaji ). Equally famous is the  Reis Magos fort which includes the church that can be accessed by a broad flight of steps.  The Reis Magos Church is on the road, leading to  the famous beaches of Candolim and Calangute. The church is frequently referred to as the  church of the "Three Magi Kings".

The famous annual festival  called the Fiesta de los Tres Reyes Magos, is celebrated on a grand scale with religiou fervor every year on the 6th of  January. This festival commemorates the  journey of the Three kings of Magi who went to worship the baby Jesus. On the festival day  the procession from the church goes around the village, spreading the message of friendship, love and happiness. 

This church, built in 1555 by the Franciscan missionaries, is dedicated it to Saint Jerome. Evidences show that this church was  built on the ruins  of an ancient Hindu temple built during the the Vijaynagara rule. The presence of two bas-relief lion figures  at the start of the steps that lead to the Church  supports this view and the nature of Vijaynagara  design.
The church was renovated in 1771 and the towers of the church were already buil in 1764.  Two Portuguese Viceroys of Goa were buried on  the premises of the church and there are their gravestones. The gravestone of the Viceroy Dom Luis De Ataide is set into the floor of the corridor north of the nave. History records say that Reis Magos Church is said to be the site of Alfonso de Albuquerque's landing in 1510.  The exterior of the church carries the royal Portuguese coat of arms.

The Reis Magos Church, Goa.

The Reis Magos Church is painted white from the outside,  whereas the inner walls are bright and vibrant,  containing impressive and magnificent designs. The wooden pillars that support the structure  are multi-colored and portray the Three Kings of Magi,  holding gifts for blessed newborn, Jesus Christ. The canopy behind the  tall altar  is beautifully  painted, and the prayer hall  is exquisite and huge. There is a small shrine near the foot of the stairs, dedicated to Our Lady of Hope.

During the reign of the Portuguese, Reis Magos Church was  quite famous and well attended. It was considered a sacred church during the colonial rule and even to day, it is one of the sacred churches in India. Lots of people come to this 
sanctified  church to get the blessings from the infant Jesus but also to enjoy the breath-taking magnificent beaches nearby.

The most favorable time to visit the Reis Magos Church is during the annual festival -  the Fiesta de los Tres Reyes Magos held in the month of January. The local youths re-enact the  story of the three kings bearing gifts to the infant Jesus. One can visit this place  during  October to March, when the climate is perfect.