The Archaeological Survey of India has begun the restore the four-century old silver casket that houses the relics of Saint Francis Xavier at the Basilica of Bom Jesus in Old Goa. The casket, which was last tended to in 1698, has been braving the elements within the basilica, which is part of the UNESCO declared heritage complex. Old Goa was once the capital of the Portuguese maritime empire and an important trade center. The restoration began on December 9.
Back in 2018 a team of three specialists was dispatched from “Opificio delle Pietre Dure e Laboratori di Restauro di Firenze” (A restoration laboratory in Florence, Italy), to study the artifacts from May 27 to June 3, 201. They had called for attending to the casket mas a top priority or it would fall apart within the next 10 years.
“The ASI Chemical Branch from Aurangabad, who are specialists in conservation, have taken the initiative under the mandate from ASI Dehradun to commence the work to conserve and restore the Mastrillian Casket. The negotiations began long back, ever since ASI Delhi ordered that the treatment be done by their specialists in India. The work will be done at the Basilica itself under strict security and will commence from December 10,” Father Patricio Fernandes, the Rector of the Basilica of Bom Jesus, said.