Pilgrimage to Goa, In Honour of St Francis Xavier

Our Lady and St George's Parish, Walthamstow. Led by Stella Kearns.  26 Nov - 4 Dec 2018


DAY ONE: London Heathrow Goa
Scheduled flight from London Heathrow, with a stopover in Doha, before arriving in Goa on 27th of November.
DAY TWO: Reis Magos – Mapuca
After freshening up, you will proceed by coach to Old Goa, a historical city in North Goa. Once the capital of Portuguese India in the 16th Century, the city was abandoned in the 18th Century Plague. Today the remains of the city are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After, we will visit The Bishop's Palace, also known as Patriarchal Palace, situated in Altinho and overlooking the capital city of Panjim. Bishop’s Palace is renowned for its architectural splendor and as the residence of the Archbishop of Goa. Mass will be celebrated during the day.
DAY THREE: Reis Magos – Mapuca
Today morning after breakfast, you will drive to the Goan village of Reis Magos, the Portuguese name for the Three Wise Men. The village is famous for two of Goa’s famous structures; the Reis Magos Fort, and the Reis Magos Church – the first church in Bardez. We will then visit St Jerome’s Church in Mapuca. Later, we will drive to the town of Mapuca in North Goa, which is known for its very colorful weekly Friday Market, that goes on from early morning to late evening. Here is where the Our Lady of Miracles Church is found, originally built in 1594 by the Portuguese army. Believed to have been built on the site of a Hindu temple, this church was dedicated to Saint Jerome, who was venerated as the Patron Saint of Librarians, and is still often called St Jerome's Church. The building caught fire in 1961 and a large part of it was destroyed. After its renovation, the church was rechristened and dedicated to Our Lady of Miracles. Both Hindus and Christians offer their prayers here, especially on the Church’s Feast Day on the third Monday after Easter, a fine example of the peace and harmony between the two religions here.
DAY FOUR: Pilar Seminary
Today after breakfast, you will proceed to visit the Pilar Seminary where the magnificent Procession of Saints takes place on the Monday of Holy Week. Set on a small hill just south of the capital city of Panaji, the Pilar Seminary is known for its quiet ambience and the spectacular views of the countryside. The Capuchin monks founded the Seminary in 1613 when they established a center of learning along with the Church. The beautiful old Church at the Seminary has an exquisite baroque stone-carved doorway and the cloisters are decorated with 17th century frescoes. We will celebrate Mass here. The new seminary, which opened in 1942 for training of priests lies at the top of the hill. There is a small museum, which houses fragments of pottery and temple sculpture excavated from the site. Here it will be possible to see a copy of the first Marathi translation of the Gospel. Following our visit to the Seminary we will have lunch at a local spice plantation. We will have the afternoon at leisure before returning to our hotel in the late afternoon.
DAY FIVE: Se Cathedral – Church of St Francis
The morning, after celebration of Sunday Mass in a local Church, will be at leisure with an opportunity to enjoy the local beaches. In the afternoon we return to Old Goa to visit the Se Cathedral, one of the most ancient and celebrated religious buildings of Goa. This magnificent 16th Century monument to the Roman Catholic Rule in Goa under the Portuguese is the largest Church in Asia. The Cathedral is dedicated to St Catherine of Alexandria on whose feast day on 1510 Alfonso Albuquerque defeated the Muslim army and took possession of the city of Goa. Hence it is also known as St Catherine’s Cathedral. Adjacent to the Cathedral is the Convent and Church of St Francis, the former Palace of the Arch Bishop.
DAY SIX: Rachol Seminary – Margao
Today you will proceed to Rachol Seminary surrounded by the remains of a moat of an old Muslim fort and once home to the Christian Art Museum. Initially, the complex, built by the Jesuits between 1606 and 1610, consisted of a hospital and a school for the poor besides the college for the trainee priests. It also housed what was only the third setup of a printing press in the subcontinent. Fr Thomas Stevens (said to be the first Englishman to set foot on Indian soil) set up the press, which managed to bring out some sixteen books, including the first translation of the Gospels into an Indian language. The Seminary also has a church, built in 1576, dedicated to Saint Ignatius of Loyola - the founder of the Jesuit order. It is said that fragments of Saint Constantine’s bones, brought from Rome in 1782 are enshrined here along with a small glass vial which once contained a little amount of the Saint ́s blood. Mass will be celebrated here. After we will explore Margao, the commercial and cultural capital of Goa. Margao grew initially as the settlement surrounding the ancient Damodar Temple. After the demolition of the original temple it was replaced by the Holy Spirit church and church grounds. The western side of the Church developed as a market place, still famous today. People from all over Goa congregate at the special market to buy spices and dried fish to be used during the oncoming rainy season. The settlement grew on the eastern side with the church at its core and extended outwards. Today bones of Saint Francis Xavier are found in the Espirito Santo (Holy Spirit) Church. The Church stands in the old market square as one of the finest examples of the Indian Baroque style. Originally built by the Jesuit missionaries in 1564, it was destroyed in 1571 by the Muslim army soldiers before being rebuilt in 1645.
DAY SEVEN: Visit the relics of St Francis Xavier – Panaji
Today the group will visit the Bom Jesus Basilica for the opportunity to see the relics of St Xavier, which are kept in a silver casket, elevated inside the Basilica and are exposed (being brought to ground level) generally every ten years, often for only one month. return to Panaji and have the day at leisure to explore the Capital. The city’s architecture is the surest sign that Goa evolved independently of the rest of India. In the small old quarters of Fontainhas and Sao Tom , winding alleyways are lined with Portuguese-style houses, boasting distinctive red-tiled roofs, wooden window shutters and rickety balconies decorated with bright pots of petunias. It is here in Panaji that the Church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception is found, one of the oldest churches in Goa, which dates to the year 1540. Evening visiting the Church for evening Prayer.
DAY EIGHT: Feast Day of St Francis Xavier – Anjuna Flea Market
After breakfast, we attend early morning Mass, before having the rest of the day at leisure, perhaps visit the Anjuna Flea Market. For those who wish, there will be the opportunity to help volunteer in Goa. Lunch today is at choice, and dinner will be in our hotel. 


DAY NINE: Goa – London Heathrow
Morning flight from Goa to Heathrow with a stopover in Doha.


This tour involves a substantial amount of walking, some of which will be over irregular surfaces such as cobblestones and badly-maintained walking areas. If everyday walking is something you find difficult, this tour may be unsuitable for you.



This itinerary is a guide and subject to change. 



Single room supplement: £189

26/11/18 - 04/12/18
Price Includes:

Return scheduled flights: Heathrow - Goa. Current UK and India airport departure taxes. 1 piece of 30kg checked in luggage. 7 nights accommodation in twin-bedded rooms at the Bougainvillea Guest House (3-star), Goa. 7 breakfasts, 1 lunch and 7 dinners. Coach transfers as per the itinerary. English speaking Tour Manager to accompany the group whilst in India. Entrance fees as per the itinerary. Guided tours as per the itinerary. ATOL and ABTA financial protection.

Price Extras:
Travel insurance. You may like to arrange cover through Travel & General Insurance Services Ltd. Contact them for details and the premium: 020 3794 2954. Visa for India:
https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/index.html Applicants may apply online minimum 4 days in advance of the date of arrival with a window of 120 days. Passport should have at least six months validity from the date of arrival in India. Single room supplement (limited availability) at £189 per person for 7 nights. 6 lunches. Drinks and Gratuities. Fuel surcharges if passed on by the airline. Transfers within the U.K.
Injections that are necessary for all travellers going to India: Hepatitis A, Tetanus, Typhoid Malaria, Polio. Injections that some travellers need going to India: Cholera, Hepatitis B, Rabies, TB. Those who may be at increased risk of an infectious disease due to their work, lifestyle choice, or certain underlying health problems should be up to date with additional recommended vaccines. 
Terms of Payment:

Deposit of £400 (plus the insurance premium if the cover we offer is required) per person, with a completed booking form. Balance payment due no later than 26th September 2018.

The above price is guaranteed for bookings received by 27th April 2018. Any bookings received after this date may be subject to a flight surcharge. ​