“Reis Magos” is Portuguese word for the Three Magi, otherwise known as the Three Wise Men.
The little village 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 the Reis Magos church is easily visible from the opposite banks.
This church was once the residence of all Catholic Dignitaries and also a Mission Centre of the Franciscan order.
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.
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 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.
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 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, the people Reis Magos celebrate the feast of ‘The Epiphany’. 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.