“Reis Magos” is Portuguese for the Three Magi, otherwise known as the Three Wise Men. Like these esteemed gentlemen, in order to reach this church one must stray off the beaten path. The little hamlet of Reis Magos, is the home of not one, but two famous landmarks, the Reis Magos Church and the Reis Magos fort. Located on the banks of the river Mandovi, the sparkling white façade of this church is easily visible from the opposite banks. To reach it, however, one must turn off the road leading to the tourist hotspots of Calangute and Baga. A little turn just past the Verem Bazaar past the Hindu tree shrine will lead you to this church.
Notwithstanding its slightly out of the way location, this church was once the residence of all Catholic Dignitaries and also a Mission Centre of the Franciscan order.
Claim to fame : It was the first church to be built in the Bardez Taluka, and posseses a multi-coloured wood relief of the Magi. It is also one of only three places in Goa which celebrates the Epiphany (Feast of the Three Kings) with processions and re-enactments.
The Reis Magos church was constructed in 1555 by the Franciscan Friars and was one of the earliest churches built in Goa. It also has the distinction of being the first to be built in the Bardez Taluka. Read more +
Although the church was built in 1555, the entire interior was redone in 1771, and the towers were added around the year 1776. The church itself sits atop a graceful flight of steps at the base of which can be seen two carved lions reminiscent of Vijaynagar temple architecture.
The length of the church runs along the Mandovi river. The breadth of the church has along it five doorways and Corinthian columns dividing the compartments of the façade. The church also displays a high, carved gable, decorated with scroll work and given added majesty by the presence of the Royal Insignia.
Near the base of the steps is a small shrine dedicated to Our Lady of Health. This was erected on the spot to commemorate the victory of Afonso de Albuquerque over the outpost in 1510.
The church is dedicated to St Jerome. The church interiors are quite impressive with the highlight being the multi-colored wood relief showing The Three Wise Men bearing gifts to the baby Jesus. Read more +
The church contains a high main altar backed by an impressively carved reredos. Carved out of various coloured woods, the reredos depicts the Three Magi offering their gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh to the Infant Jesus and His kneeling Mother.
The church contains the tombs of two Portuguese Viceroys, one of whom was Dom Luis de Ataide. An impressively carved slab in the corridor of the church marks his tomb. This church also contains the tomb of another Portuguese Viceroy. The inscriptions on these in both Portuguese and Latin are still clearly visible.
Every year on the 6th of January, Reis Magos comes alive with the colorful “Festa dos Reis Magos” when the story of the Three Kings is re-enacted by the locals, with three youths playing the parts of the Magi. The locals celebrate the journey of the Three Kings who went to worship the Holy Infant Jesus with a procession that starts from the church and goes around the village.
A beautiful and dignified church, the Reis Magos is definitely worth a visit, especially if you happen to be in Goa on the festival days, in which case you might like to join in the procession to relive the pilgrimage of the Three Magi, following the star to Bethlehem.