Travel Dhamaka

GOA CHURCHES SIGHTSEEING

...

GOA CHURCHES

# Basilica of Bom Jesus

 

Don’t let its unassuming air fool you, the Bom Jesus Basilica is a World Heritage Monument, and has been christened so by UNESCO. Its un-plastered exterior appears at first glance to be inferior as compared to the sparkling facades of churches like the Se Cathedral, but this little Basilica is rich in art, architecture and history, and the relics of Saint Francis Xavier are enshrined here.

 

Timings

 

·         Masses are held regularly at the Bom Jesus Basilica, the timings are as follows

·         Sunday – 8.00am, 9.15am and 6.00pm in Konkani, 10.15am in English

·         Mon to Sat – 7.00am, 8.00am and 6.00pm

·         Mass is also held at the chapel of St. Francis Xavier on the 6th of every month at 10.00am. Holy hour is held on the first Friday of every month at 5.00pm followed by Mass.

·         If you do not want to hear Mass, the Basilica is open to the public for viewing and exploration at the following times,

·         Mon to Sat – 9.00am to 6.30pm

·         Sunday – 10.30am to 6.30pm

 

Claim to fame : Houses the relics of St. Francis Xavier and is the only Basilica in Goa.

 

Must View

 

·         Quadrangular pediment at the top of the un-plastered façade

·         Carved columns both inside and outside

·         Statue of St. Francis Xavier

·         Main altar with carvings and gilding

·         Gilded reredos with the statues of St. Ignatius and the Infant Jesus

The reredos has within it a large statue of St. Ignatius of Loyola protecting the Infant Jesus. His eyes are raised to a carved disc, once more bearing the Jesuit emblem of “IHS”. Above this medallion is a depiction of the Holy Trinity, i.e. The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit.

·         Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament

·         Chapel of St. Francis Xavier

On the southern side of the transept lies the Chapel of St. Francis Xavier. This chapel has carved and gilded columns and wood-carved floral decorations. This is where the relics of the saint are kept. There is a gorgeous silver statue placed in front of the silver casket where the body of St. Francis Xavier reposes

·         Sacristy – chest containing the Golden Rose

·         Painting of the relics of the saint

·         Paintings of the saints

·         Modern art gallery paintings, especially “The Last Judgement” and “Genesis”

The Basilica also contains a modern art gallery with paintings depicting various Biblical scenes. The gallery can be accessed using the stairs near the sacristy. It is one of the largest of its kind in Asia. It contains 36 paintings executed between the years 1973 and 1976. The artist was paid only for the materials used as his talent was given gratis, for the greater glory of God.

 

History, Construction and Architecture

 

The Basilica of Bom Jesus is a monument typical of the classic forms of plane architecture, introduced by the Society of Jesus, otherwise known as the Jesuits. The façade, which is of granite, represents features of five styles of architecture: Roman, Ionic, Doric, Corinthian and Composite. It is a large single Nave structure built ( 1595-1605) and paid for with legacies left by Dom Jeronimo Mascarenhas, a wealthy Portuguese Captain of Cochin.It is the only monument with a façade not covered with plaster. The plaster was stripped off in 1970 by an over-zealous Portuguese conservationist who believed that this would help preserve the carvings on the façade better. Unfortunately, even though this was soon seen to be a false assumption, no one has put the plaster back.

The foundation stone for this church was laid on the 24th of November, 1594. Archbishop Rev. Fr. Aleixo de Menezes consecrated the church, on its completion on the 15th of May 1605. However, it was only raised to the status of “minor Basilica” in 1946.The three-storied structure stands 75ft wide and 78½ft tall. The façade of the church, though un-plastered, is a magnificent example of baroque architecture. It combines elements of Doric, Ionic and Corinthian design, and is divided into four parts.The lowest section has three doors set into it, a large one in the middle with two smaller ones flanking it. The second section has three square windows whose positioning corresponds to that of the doors. The third section has three circular windows whilst the last section forms a quadrangle, lavishly decorated with arabesque. This quadrangular pediment also has “IHS” carved into it. This is the Jesuit emblem and stands for “Iesus Hominum Salvator”, which is Latin for, “Jesus, Saviour of Men”. All the sections have carved basalt pillars. The basalt was mined from Bassein in the North of Goa.

 

Interior and Artwork

 

The interior of the church is a study in contrasts. The design in itself is simple, but the floor is laid with the finest marble, and was inlaid with precious stones. The altar is elaborately carved and gilded.The retable of the main altar exhibits a huge statue of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, the founder (along with St. Francis Xavier who was a founding member) of the Society of Jesus and below it, a small image of Bom Jesus (Child Jesus), the patron of the church.On the southern side of the transept lies the Chapel of St. Francis Xavier. This chapel has carved and gilded columns and wood-carved floral decorations. This is where the relics of the saint are kept. There is a gorgeous silver statue placed in front of the silver casket where the body of St. Francis Xavier reposes.

The interior of the Basilica measures 83ft in length, 51ft in width and 61ft in height. It is laid out in the orthodox cruciform fashion with a single nave and transept. The ceiling was once vaulted, but has since been replaced with a simple wooden one. The main altar measures a massive 54ft by 30ft. The interiors, while being furnished with the best of materials show a remarkable simplicity typical of Renaissance design.The Basilica contains two chapels, three altars, a sacristy and a choir loft. There is also a belfry at the back. The door through which one enters stands beneath the choir loft. To the right is an altar which is dedicated to St. Anthony and to the left is a well-carved statue of St. Francis Xavier. On the northern wall of the nave is the cenotaph of Dom Jeronimo Mascarenhas. He was the Captain of Cochin and his estate made possible the construction of the Basilica.
 
The columns which support the choir loft bear plaques inscribed in Portuguese and Latin detailing the dates of the Basilica’s construction and consecration. In the transept are two altars which flank the main one. They are highly carved and decorated and are dedicated to St. Michael and Our Lady of Good Hope.The main altar is extremely well carved and gilded. It is backed by an ornate reredos which stretches from floor to ceiling, its baroque carvings in sharp contrast to the classically plain design of the Basilica. The reredos has within it a large statue of St. Ignatius of Loyola protecting the Infant Jesus. His eyes are raised to a carved disc, once more bearing the Jesuit emblem of “IHS”. Above this medallion is a depiction of the Holy Trinity, i.e. The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit.
 
On the northern side of the transept is the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament. On the southern side is the Chapel of St. Francis Xavier. Adjoining this chapel is a corridor leading to the sacristy, accessed by a marvellously carved wooden door. It is a vaulted wooden structure ending in an apse. In this reposes an altar which has an iron chest containing the Golden Rose which was bestowed upon the Se Cathedral by Pope Pius XII.The walls are hung with paintings of the saints and the sacristy also contains a beautifully carved chest of drawers. Near the iron chest is a painting of the relics of St. Francis Xavier, done about 100 years ago.

 

Modern Art Gallery

 

The Basilica also contains a modern art gallery with paintings depicting various Biblical scenes. The gallery can be accessed using the stairs near the sacristy. It is one of the largest of its kind in Asia. It contains 36 paintings executed between the years 1973 and 1976. The artist was paid only for the materials used as his talent was given gratis, for the greater glory of God.The most notable paintings are entitled “The Last Judgement” and “Genesis”

 

Tomb of St. Francis Xavier

 

Fr. Francis Xavier died of a fever in 1552 on the island of Shangchaun, whilst waiting for a boat to travel to China. His last rites were performed and he was laid to rest in a simple coffin in the Portuguese colony of Malacca. When his remains were disinterred some years later, they were found to be “fresh and intact”. Upon hearing of this, the Vatican canonized him a saint. His remains were buried in three different places before they came to their final resting place in Goa.The arrangements of keeping the body of St Francis Xavier in the Chapel were completed on 24th April 1659. The mausoleum, in Florentine style, was the offer of the last of the Medici’s, Cosimo III, Duke of Tuscany. It is a masterpiece setting and was made by Giovanni Batista Foggini and assembled in Goa by Placido Francesco Ramponi.The silver casket is made up of silver panels which depict 32 scenes from the life of the saint. These panels were created for this purpose by Goan silversmiths under the supervision of Fr. Marco Mastrilli SJ.

The tomb of the great saint, rests beneath a shower of gilt stars. It has three parts: the altars, the Florentine mausoleum and the silver casket. There are four altars, one on each of the four sides of the tomb. They are constructed of reddish jasper with white strips which are ornamented with flourishes and fringes. There are two Cherubim in each corner. They are made of pure alabaster. In the centre of each altar’s frontispiece there is an emblem in bold relief. Above the altars is a quadrangle of spotted jasper. On all four sides are bronze plaques depicting scenes from the life of the saint.
 
In the first scene we see St. Francis preaching to the Malaccan people. Above the panel is a bronze sun disc and two alabaster angels holding a bronze banner inscribed with the words “Nox inimical fugat”. The second scene shows St. Francis baptisting the Malaccans with his right hand and holding a crucifix in his left. The bronze sun is at it’s zenith above this plaque and the banner held by the angels reads “Ut vitam habeant”. The third scene depicts St Francis being attacked by the Moro islanders with stones and arrows. The bronze medallion shows a lion in a storm and the banner reads “Nihil horum vereor”. The fourth plaque shows the death of St. Francis on the island of Shangchaun surrounded by his disciples. The medallion depicts the setting sun and the banner reads “Major in occasu”. Taken together these four Latin phrases can be roughly translated to mean “I drive away the enemy of the night, that they may have new life and fear not the great setting of the sun”

Above this quadrangle is a balustrade of jasper and it is on this balustrade that the silver coffin rests. There are 32 silver plates which form the four sides of the casket. The scenes that they depict are as follows:

·         Francis lies on the ground with his arms and legs tied, but the cords are miraculously broken.

·         Francis kisses the ulcer of a patient lying in a Venetian hospital.

·         He is visited by St. Jerome as he lies ailing in the hospital of Vicenza.

·         A vision about his future apostolate.

·         A vision about his sister’s prophecy regarding his fate.

·         He saves the secretary of the Portuguese Ambassador while crossing the Alps.

·         He lifts a sick man who dies after receiving communion.

·         He baptizes the people in Travancore.

·         He resuscitates a boy who drowned in a well at Cape Comorin

·         He miraculously cures a man full of sores

·         He drives away the Badagas in Travancore

·         He resuscitates three persons: a man who was buried at Coulao; a boy about to be buried at Multao and another child.

·         He takes money from his empty pockets and gives to a Portuguese beggar at Malyapore.

·         He effects a miraculous cure.

·         A crab restores his crucifix which had fallen into the sea.

·         He preaches in the island of Moro.

·         He preaches in the sea of Malacca and announces victory against the enemies.

·         He converts a Portuguese soldier.

·         He helps the dying Vicar of Malacca.

·         Francis kneels down and on his shoulders there rests a child whom he restores to health.

·         He goes walking from Amanguchi to Meaco.

·         He cures a dumb paralytic in Amanguchi.

·         He cures a deaf Japanese person.

·         He prays on the ship during a storm.

·         He baptizes three kings in Cochin.

·         He cures a religious person in the College of St. Paul.

·         Due to lack of water, he sweetens the sea water, during a voyage.

·         The agony of Francis at Sancian.

·         After his death he is seen by a lady according to his promise.

·         The body dressed in sacerdotal vestments is exposed for public veneration.

·         Francis levitates as he distributes communion in the College of St. Paul.

·         The body is placed in a niche at Chaul with lighted candles.

The casket is topped by a cross standing on a pedestal with the figures of angels, one on either side. The angel placed near where his head rests bears a heart with a halo, whilst the one near his feet has the motto “Satis est! Domine, satis est” which means “It is enough, Oh Lord, it is enough”During the time of the exposition, the plates on the side of the silver casket are removed so that devotees may see the “intact” remains of the saint through the glass urn. The glass urn was put in place after the exposition in 1954, when it was decided that the relics should no longer be directly touched. It was made in the Casa Brandizzi in Rome and the relics were placed inside with all ceremony in 1955, before the whole was placed into the silver casket.

 

Professed House

 

The construction of the Professed house, which lies next door to the Basilica, began in 1585 and so predates the Basilica by a few years. It is a two-storied building, built of laterite rock and covered with lime plaster. Its construction was completed in 1589 under the aegis of Br. Domingos Fernandes.This became the mission centre for all Jesuit missions to the eastern regions of the known world. The “Casa Professa”, according to Jesuit canon, was intended for the exercise of the Ministries of the Society of Jesus, and should be conspicuous for its exact adherence to the Jesuit way of life.

 

Legend and Lore

 

The legend has it that the Jesuits who wanted to construct the Professed House and later the Basilica met with stiff opposition from the Portuguese administration. They had a house on the property, but were being denied permission to build the church. On the eve of the day when they were to be evicted, the wily priests converted the house into a make-shift church, painting the word “Jesus” on the door and putting up a bell. The next morning the bell was rung, much to the surprise of the inhabitants of the surrounding areas, to call them for Mass. After that, the Portuguese were never able to evict the Jesuits from this place.Another interesting tale from the history of this Basilica is that the Duke of Tuscany, who sponsored the building of the mausoleum of St. Francis Xavier, did so out of gratitude. He had been presented with the pillow upon which the saint’s head had been resting by the Jesuit Procurator General of Goa. He felt that such a great saint deserved a grander resting place.
 
Many stories have originated around the relics of St. Francis Xavier. Some believers claim that his body shrinks every year, and when it shrinks to nothing, it will signify the end of the world. Others tell a tale of a woman, who whilst bending to kiss his feet in devotion bit off his big toe. They say that though the toe was bitten off a corpse it yet bled and so she was caught out and the toe returned to the rest of the relics.Simple yet regal, austere yet opulent, unassuming yet grand, this Basilica has risen from its humble beginnings into a world famous monument that commands respect and worship from religious pilgrims and architectural buffs alike. The atmosphere of the Basilica is cool, calm and majestic. The awe-inspiring feeling of being in the presence of something much greater than oneself is a truly humbling experience.

 

# Chapel of Our Lady of the Mount

 

Although its secluded location often leads to this little church being overlooked, it is certainly worth a stop on a tour of Velha Goa (Old Goa). With simple exteriors, lavish interiors and wealth of historical significance, this chapel is what one might call a hidden treasure. Its plain whitewashed walls present a delightful picture at sunset, and the view from its vantage point is truly breath taking.Situated as it is atop the Monte near the Church of St. Cajetan, it overlooks the expanse of the Mandovi and the islands of Devar and Chorao.

 

Claim to Fame

 

Plays host to the much acclaimed Monte Music festival, which attracts music buffs from all over every February.
 

 

Timings

The chapel is open to visitors at the following timings
Mon to Sat – 9.00am to 7.00pm
Sun – 9.00am to 12.00pm

 

Must View

 

·         View of the Mandovi from near the chapel

·         Chapel at sunset

·         Plaque commemorating the victory of Afonso de Albuquerque

In 1510 this was the site of the battle between the armies of Afonso de Albuquerque and Sultan Adil Shah, who was trying to retake Goa. To commemorate his victory and give thanks, Afonso de Albuquerque erected this chapel. In 1931 the Archaeological commission had a plaque placed here that, when translated, reads, “Here the Mohammedan artillery stood against Alfonso de Albuquerque to retake Goa in May, 1510”.

·         Eight panelled gilded reredos

·         Altars of St. Anthony

History, Construction and Architecture

 

It is on the top of the “Monte” that the chapel of Our Lady of the Mount” was built soon after the conquest of Goa to mark the site from where Adil Shah positioned his artillery against the Portuguese forces to retake Goa in 1510. So when Afonso de Albuquerque defeated the Sultan’s forces, he made a vow to construct a church at the very strategic point on the mount. The church was constructed in 1519 and has been rebuilt twice since. 
 

Interior and Artwork

 

The churches chancel had three altars. The main altar has at its centre the image of Our Lady of the Mount holding the child Jesus. Above it is a picture of the coronation of the Virgin Mary, and below that a picture of Our Lady of Assumption. At the base of the retable are the busts of St. Vincent with a ship and St. Lawrence with a gridiron, the symbol of his martyrdom. The collateral altar is dedicated to St. Anthony.

The nave of the chapel is covered by a barrel vaulted ceiling as is the chancel. However, the breadth of the chancel is less than that of the nave. The main altar is dedicated to Our Lady and its retable is divided into eight sections. In the central niche is a statue of Our Lady of the Mount holding the Baby Jesus, above this is a picture of the Coronation of the BVM and below is Our Lady of Assumption. The picture on the side panels and those on the main altar depict various aspects of the life of Our Lady.

At the base of the retable are two busts, one being St. Vincent who is depicted with a ship and the other is St. Lawrence who is depicted with a gridiron, which is the symbol of his martyrdom. The sub-altars are dedicated to St. Anthony of Lisboa and St. Anthony the Hermit. At the angle of these altars are miniatures of the devil and an inscription in Latin, which translated, reads “my sins are always before me”.

 

Monte Music Festival

 

Organized by the Fundacao Oriente in collaboration with the Kala Academy, this festival aims to integrate Indian and Western forms of Classical music. Held in February every year, the festival attracts both performers and music buffs from across various countries and fields. A real must see for any music lover

 

Trivia

 

This humble chapel has been the backdrop for many a Bollywood film shoot.

 

Definitions

 

·         Mannerist – A style of architecture which rose up in response to the Renaissance Movement, and used architectural forms to emphasize solid and spatial relationships, for eg. Pilasters that stretch from the top to bottom of a façade.

·         Loggia – An exterior gallery or corridor, usually on an upper level whose exterior face is exposed to the elements, usually having only columns or arches for support.

 

# Church of Mae de Deus (Saligao)

 

Stark, stern and yet with a glamorous charm all its own, the Mae de Deus or Mother of God Church is a breath-taking site. With its Gothic spires and pristine white walls, it reminds one of a fairytale castle. Situated amidst picturesque surroundings of the typical Goan countryside, this Church at Saligao, which is situated in the Bardez taluka, was built in 1873. It is amongst the finest in the Gothic style and is attractively illuminated at night.

 

Claim to fame :

 

It is the finest example of Neo-Gothic architecture in Goa. It houses the miraculous statue of Mae de Deus (Mother of God) which was brought from the ruins of the convent of Mae de Deus at Old Goa.
 

Timings


The church is also open to tourists every day from
9.00am to 12.30pm and from 3.00pm to 5.00pm.
 
Mass Timings


Mon to Sat – 7.00am and 8.00am
Sun – 7.00am, 8.30am and 9.30am

 

Must View

 

·         Miraculous statue of Mae de Deus     Read more+

·         Neo-Gothic architecture of the Church, unique amongst the Goan churches

·         Illuminated view of the church after sundown     Read more+

·         Statue of Mae de Deus in the church courtyard

·         Gilded and carved ornamentation inside the church

 

History, Construction and Architecture

 

The church dedicated to the Mother of God or Our Lady came to be built at Bardez in the 19th Century. Its foundation stone was laid on 7th February 1867 and the Saligao Church was inaugurated on November 26, 1873.
The Church building is stunningly distinctive with its jutting spires, each crowned with a cross. It has buttresses supporting its exterior walls and belfry. The courtyard of the Church contains another statue of the Mae de Deus, this one made of black stone.

Interior and Artwork

 

The interiors of the church are similarly imposing. In addition to the miraculous statue of the Mae de Deus which reposes near the altar, there is an altar stone which was also taken from the convent in Daujim. In addition to the main altar, this church has six sub-altars.
Read more+

 

Feast

 

The first Sunday of May is celebrated as the church feast, the feast of Our Lady, the Mother of God. The feast day itself is preceded by a nine day novena, the celebrations and Masses on each day being organized by a different ward of Saligao. Each day, a small group of children are dressed up as angels and they dance before Our Lady and pay homage to her with offerings of flowers. After the novena the celebrations are continued with music and short skits, plays or dances performed by the parishioners.

On the feast day, celebrations are taken a few notches up with a grand procession followed by a firework display. Previously, there was also a dance which was organized by the Saligao Sports Club, called ‘Foxes Night’.

 

Legend and Lore

 

Some sources claim that the neighbouring parishes objected to the Saligao church receiving the honour of having the miraculous Mae de Deus statue kept within it. There was even talk of protests and marches, to the dismay of Fr. Camilo Teodorio Rodrigues, the administrator of the church who did not want to give up the statue. The issue was finally settled by the Government Order passed on the 20th of June, 1865 which was approved by the King of Portugal.

Made possible by the endeavours of the faithful parishioners of Saligao and a singularly beautiful monument for the ages, do stop by this church as you pass it on the Chogm road from Panaji, if only to take a few pictures of its fantastical architecture.

 

# Church of Our Lady of Rosary

 

Standing atop the Monte Santo (Holy Hill) and keeping a benevolent watch over Old Goa, is the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary. Beautiful in its austereness and simplicity this church is one of the only buildings in Goa that attests to the introduction of Renaissance architecture, brought to Goa by the Portuguese. It is perhaps the most Portuguese of all the Goan churches as it was not influenced by the Goan architectural solutions, which though they have their roots in the Portuguese tradition, have their own unique standing. Additionally, the building remains largely unchanged.

 

Timings : Open seven days a week from 9 am to 5.30 pm.

 

Claim to fame : 

 

The church bears an inscription on the conquest of Goa by Afonso de Albuquerque in 1510. Legend has it that Afonso de Albuquerque surveyed the attack of Adil Shah’s army from this hill and vowed to build a church there to give thanks for his victory.
The church of Our Lady of Rosary is also revered for its connection to St. Francis Xavier, who often taught catechism here when it was first built.

 

Must See :

 

·         Tombstone of Garcia De Sa & Cenotaph of Dona Catarina

Set on the floor in front of the altar is the tombstone of the Portuguese governor Garcia De Sa, and set into the northern wall of the chancel is the alabaster Mausoleum, in the Persian style of his wife, Catarina a Piro, who was the first Portuguese woman to arrive in Goa. According to the legend they were married by St Francis Xavier as she lay dying, in fact described as “in Articulo Mortis” which means at the moment of death. Her cenotaph is slightly protruding from the wall and bears on it an inscription in Portuguese, which translated means “Here lies Dona Caterina, wife of Garcia de Sa, who requests the readers of these lines to beg God’s mercy on her soul”

·         Towers andbuttresses

·         Chapels andretables

·         Carvings of the main altar

·         Granite baptismal font

History, Construction and Architecture

 

Although de Albuquerque vowed to build a church in this spot when he saw his armies marching to victory, this church was not built in his lifetime. He originally constructed a hermitage on this site, which was later converted into the church which stands here today. The construction began in 1544 and took six years to complete.

The architecture of this church presents features of the classic Gothic style along with Portuguese-Manueline style while the Renaissance influence is reflected in the interior vaults and decoration of the retables. In 1931, the Archaeological Committee of Goa placed a marble slab on the walls of the church with the inscription: “From this height, Afonso de Albuquerque watched the re-conquest of Goa on 25/11/1510.”

The church is built of laterite and plastered with lime mortar. The design of this church is exceedingly simple and it has been beautifully restored. The only decorations on its exterior are simple rope twist devices which celebrate the seafaring ways of the Portuguese colonists. These ropes wrapped cornice-style around the towers are very typical of the Manueline style.

The three-storied tower façade of this church is outstanding. There are buttresses built on the front corners of the church, thus giving it the look of a fortress, an air which is only enhanced by its high windows. There are two towers on the corners of the nave. The south tower contains a winding staircase that gives access to the “high choir” on the upper floor of this tower. The North tower contains within it a baptismal chapel on the lower level. The upper level is distinguished by slender columns and has round arched windows in which bells are hung.
The portico of this church is two-storied. The Gothic influences are clearly visible in the rib of the portico the roof is tiled and supported by wooden rafters.

 

Interior and Artwork

 

Like its exterior, the interior of this church is also plain. The reredos (screen or decoration behind the altar) is ungilded but beautifully carved.

Set on the floor in front of the altar is the tombstone of the Portuguese governor Garcia De Sa, and set into the northern wall of the chancel is the alabaster Mausoleum, in the Persian style of his wife, Catarina a Piro, who was the first Portuguese woman to arrive in Goa. According to the legend they were married by St Francis Xavier as she lay dying, in fact described as “in Articulo Mortis” which means at the moment of death. Her cenotaph is slightly protruding from the wall and bears on it an inscription in Portuguese, which translated means “Here lies Dona Caterina, wife of Garcia de Sa, who requests the readers of these lines to beg God’s mercy on her soul”

The church is constructed in the orthodox, cruciform fashion with a square apse (the apse is a semicircular recess covered with a hemispherical vault or semi-dome. In Romanesque, Byzantine and Gothic Christian abbey, cathedral and church architecture, the term is applied to a semi-circular or polygonal termination of the main building at the liturgical east end). It as a single nave ,with two chapels opening onto the nave (main body of the church), one in front of, and the other next to the apse. The arches of the chapels open onto the nave at varying heights. The nave once had a ceiling; however this structure collapsed in 1897, damaging the vaults of the chapels. The nave now has an open-tiled roof.The chapels and the chancel (or sanctuary) have star-form rib vaults. The chapels have retables representing the crucifixion and subsequent resurrection of Christ.
The narthex and the north wall of the church have very similar archways, which are distinctively Renaissance in nature. The retables of the chancel altars and the nave are also very classical in nature.
The church contains three altars. The main altar is dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary and shows Hindu influences in its carvings of mangoes, cashews and flowers. The baptismal font in this church has been carved out of a single granite slab.
One of the bells, made by Peter Dias Bocarro in 1618, bears an inscription, which translated reads, “Mary was assumed into heaven. The angels rejoice and bless the Lord in praise. Hail Mary, full of grace! The Lord is with thee. Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb Jesus. Holy Mary.”

 

# Church of St. Ana

 

Dedicated to St.Ana, it is a remarkable piece of ancient Christian architecture, situated in Talaulim. Built in 1695 on the bank of the Siridao river, its unique feature are the hollow walls through which people could walk in secrecy for confession.

 

# Church of St. Francis of Assisi

 

Journeying west from the Se Cathedral, one comes upon the Old Palace of the Archbishop, which serves as a conduit from the cathedral to the Church of St. Francis of Assisi.Thanks in part to its renovation in 1665, this graceful building displays a charming mix of architectural styles and intricately carved artwork. The adjoining convent has long since been converted into the Archaeological Museum and is worth a visit in its own right. No tour of Old Goa could be complete without a visit to this twofold attraction.

 

Claim to Fame

 

The blending of Portuguese-Manueline style portal from the older structure into the later Tuscan style building, to produce a unique specimen of architecture. The adjoining convent houses the Museum of Archaeological History.

 

Timings


The Museum is open 7 days a week and its timings are as follows:
9.00am – 12.30 and 3.00pm to 6.30
The Church is open 6 days a week and the Timings are as follows
Mon to Sat – 7.30am to 6.30pm

Must View List

·         Statue of Our lady of Miracles in the niche in the façade, brought over from Sri Lanka

·         Octagonal towers

·         Manueline architecture of the portal

Built in 1665, the new church retained the portal of the old structure which was in the Portuguese–Manueline style. It is a unique architectural specimen, of this style in the country.

·         Paintings on the interior walls depicting scenes from the Bible

·         Statues of St. Francis of Assisi and Jesus on the altar

·         Baroque and Corinthian carvings on the altar itself

·         Wood Paintings depicting the life of St. Francis of Assisi

·         Frescoes with floral decorations

 

History, Construction and Architecture

 

The original shrine, constructed by the Fransican monks in 1521 and subsequently enlarged, was showing signs of decay, so a new church was constructed and dedicated to the Holy Spirit. Built in 1665, it retained the portal of the old structure which was in the Portuguese–Manueline style. It is a unique architectural specimen, of this style in the country.The façade of the church is built in the Tuscan style of architecture with only the portal being Manueline since it is a relic from the older structure. The façade is also distinctive in that it is flanked by octagonal towers.

In 1517, eight Franciscan monks landed in Goa. They immediately set to work and built themselves a small chapel. This chapel was completed in 1521 and dedicated to the Holy Ghost. This building was later expanded upon and later consecrated as a church in 1602. However, it was not in good repair and it was later torn down and reconstructed in 1665.The church is built of laterite blocks, covered with lime plaster. The original Manueline entrance way is flanked by two octagonal towers. The façade of the church is three tiered and has a small niche which houses the statue of Our Lady of Miracles which was brought from Jaffna in Sri Lanka.

 

Interior and Art

 

In contrast to the simple outer façade the interiors of the church are unabashedly and lavishly decorated in the Baroque style using Corinthian influences. The highlight is the main altar, which has fine examples of this kind of work.The altar is dedicated to St. Francis of Assisi and has above it a huge statue of the saint, and another of Jesus. These statues display excellent features and attention to detail. Flanking the altar are superb paintings on wood depicting scenes from the life of St. Francis of Assisi and the history of the Seraphic Order.Although this church is not as large as the illustrious Se Cathedral, it is beautiful nonetheless. It is a single-nave church with three small chapels on either side of the nave. There are two altars besides the main one, which is dedicated to St. Francis of Assisi. Behind the altar are rooms which form the sacristy and there is a belfry to the north of the altar. The chapels and the gallery which runs around the top of the church are separated by internal buttresses.
 
Designed in a Baroque style the interior of the church is richly decorated. As you enter, on the left is an intricately carved wooden pulpit, decorated with floral patterns. The interior of the church itself is lavishly decorated with paintings depicting scenes from the Bible. The internal buttress walls have been carved with floral frescoes in the Indo-Portuguese Baroque style.There are inscribed tombstones set into the stone floor of the church, many of which are worthy of note as they have been intricately carved. The main altar is carved and gilded, and beneath the statues of St. Francis of Assisi and Jesus is inscribed the vows of the saint “poverty, humility and obedience”. Beneath the main vault, is a richly carved niche containing the tabernacle, used for the repose of the Blessed Sacrament. The tabernacle is supported by sculptures of the Four Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

 

Convent and Museum of Archaeological History

 

The Convent was built by the Franciscan friars around 1527 and later expanded. Today it houses the museum, established by the Archaeological Survey of India in 1964. Valuable sculptures and icons of pre-Portuguese era and portraits of Viceroys and Governor- Generals are displayed here.This westward facing church has watched patiently over the faithful and seen the sun set on the Portuguese reign in India. The convent having been at first the simple living quarters of the Franciscan monks, then a convent and now a museum, is a timeless place, well worth a visit.

 

# Nunnery of Santa Monica in Goa

 

Standing atop the Monte Santo, resolutely facing north is the Nunnery of Santa Monica. Like a grand old matriarch, the building stands not just with grace and dignity but with formidable beauty and an air of insurmountable defenses; tenderly sheltering those within whilst repelling the whims and fancies of the fickle, shallow world.This nunnery in Goa is named for St. Monica who was the mother of St. Augustine, and it could once accommodate more than 250 inmates. It was a sanctuary not only for nuns, but also for widows willing to devote themselves to the service of God, and for the temporary protection of well-born ladies whose husbands had travelled to far off lands on military conquests or expeditions.

 

Claim to fame :

 

The convent enjoyed the patronage of Royalty and was the first nunnery in the east. The convent houses the Miraculous or Weeping Cross in one of the chapels.
 

Timings


The Nunnery, which is now the Museum of Christian Art is open from 9.30 am to 5pm everyday

 

 

History, Construction and Architecture

 

This convent, the Nunnery of Santa Monica was sanctioned in 1598 and the Archbishop Aleixo de Menezes laid the foundation stone in 1606. Construction was completed in 1627. Built like a fortress, this convent is significant for its massive walls and buttresses. The convent has a vast courtyard with a cloister. Its three stories have numerous cells and halls. Massive standing, rather than flying, buttresses characterize the exterior of the convent.
 
On Christmas Eve 1636, a massive fire partially destroyed the building but it was restored by Fr. Diogo de Santa Anna, who was the then administrator and “spiritual father” of the convent.The architecture of the Church and convent reflect a combination of the Tuscan, Corinthian and composite styles. The façade of the Church has two main doorways with basalt frames. The three arched buttresses are solidly constructed and were a later addition to the structure. The road leading to the tip of Monte, runs through these buttresses.The façade of the church prominently features a statue of Santa Monica as well as the symbol of the Holy Ghost. The doors also feature granite carvings of a Caravel, which is a small, highly manoeuvrable Portuguese sailing ship, and a dragon.
 
The façade of the convent bears a carving of the symbols of the Eucharist, the Paschal Lamb and Holy Ghost along with an inscription. The convent itself is quadrangular. It has three stories and is built around a courtyard, called the Vale de Lirios, which means lily of the valley. The courtyard also contained a cloister. In the centre of this courtyard was a well, known as the Font de Salvador.The walls of the nunnery are massive and solidly constructed. They were said to be so strong that the relative strength of other buildings was measured against them, “my house is well-built, and it is as strong as the walls of Santa Monica”.

 

Interior and Artwork

 

The convent itself is massive and consists of three floors. There were various cells and rooms to accommodate the residents of the convent. The Church of the Weeping Cross is attached to the south of the convent. It has four altars; the main one is dedicated to St. Monica, the others to St. Augustine the Bom Jesus and the Miraculous Cross. The vaults over some of the spaces were enriched with scenes from the bible, similar to that of the Sistine chapel in Rome.On the 8th of February 1636, the statue of Christ on the Cross of Inside is said to have opened its eyes whilst blood flowed from the wounds as if it were living. The same miracle took place once more, four days later in the presence of the Viceroy, Archbishop and other high ranking church officials. The Archdiocese of Goa celebrates its festival on the 27th of November.

The convent contained within it eight dormitories. They were Madre de Deus which had eight cells; Santa Anna which had sixteen Divino Salvador which had eleven; Santo Agostinho which had sixteen, Sepulcro, Belem, Senora de Candeia and De Cima. These dormitories were only for the inmates of the convent and there were separate, special dormitories for the servants.The ground floor of the convent had a gate known as the Porta de Fora, or the outer door. Through this, visitors were allowed to talk with the nuns. This opened onto the apartments call Aposentos de Portiero and Locutorio de Fora. Beyond this was the Portaria de clausara, the door of the cloister and the Casa de Rodo, and a nun remained in charge of the keys. The door between these two was the Porta de probicao and no one was allowed to enter without the express written permission of the Bishop. The penalty for violating this rule was instant excommunication.
 
The interior of the Church of the Weeping Cross blends the Doric and composite styles of architecture. The image of the Christ which was said to have wept blood was previously kept in the choir loft, but now occupies a place of honour in a tribune in the nave of the church.The main altar of the church has magnificent retable divided in three. In the first section stands a statue of St. Augustine, flanked by St. Thomas of Vila Nova and St. Ambrosius, the second section has a statue of St. Monica, to whom the altar is consecrated, and she has on either side of her St. Rita and St. Melania and the third section has a representation of Calvary with the saints Peter and Paul on either side.The pulpit too is artistically carved with sculptures of Our Lady of Piety, St. Augustine and two Augustinian bishops. On either side of the altar are carved angels, interestingly enough, with cashew shaped earrings.

 

Life of the Nuns

 

The nuns in this convent were cloistered and lived a hard and frugal existence. They were allowed no contact with the outside world and even family visits were rarely permitted, and then only under strict supervision.They were divided into two groups within the convent. The nuns of the black veil were only those ladies of Portuguese descent whilst the nuns of the white veil were of native Goan descent. Although the government recommended that this distinction be abolished they were largely ignored.

The nuns had a solitary and frugal existence within the walls of the cloister. After a novice entered the convent her hair was shorn before she took up the veil. Family members were only allowed two visits a month, at that no male family members apart from fathers, brothers and paternal uncles, and all the visits had to be supervised. They were not allowed any visitors on communion days, which were twice a week, feast days and other days of obligation or during the periods of Advent and Lent.Along with meditation and prayer the nuns also occupied themselves with needlework, gardening and cooking. They made vestments for the priests as well as altar cloths and banners. It is said that one such banner was made for the Murmagao fort to give blessings, strength and courage during the Dutch invasion. The art of making artificial flowers is also attributed to them.
 
The nuns were accomplished cooks and made preserves of jams and jellies as well as syrups and sweets. Their gardens too were beautiful and well-tended, growing various types of fruits and flowers. The only male visitors, besides the close family members were the doctor, in case of illness and the Archbishop who visited the convent annually. The nuns even heard mass only from the choir loft, from where they could observe the mass without being seen.The nuns also had penitence rooms where they practiced various disciplinary techniques including self-flagellation with ropes or leather straps.Their numbers dwindled through the years until the convent was closed as a nunnery after the last sister residing there died, and was reinstated as a church in 1968.

 

Legend and Lore

 

One story, which has in fact been attested to by many and recorded in the Secretariat of the government of Goa, states that Sr. Maria de Jesus died on the convent premises, at the age of 78 with stigmata present on her hands and feet. This was apparently verified by the physicians of that time.

Today this convent has been converted into the Museum of Christian Art, whilst the old Monastery of Santa Monica houses the Mater Dei Institute, for the formation of the faith for women from all religious congregations in India.

On your way to the museum, it is well worth it to stop by the chapel of the Weeping cross, and to admire the massive and formidable building which has stood the test of time, relentlessly guarding its inmates from the vices and foibles of life in the outer world.

 

# Our Lady of Immaculate Conception

 

Not all of Goa’s myriad ancient churches are concentrated in Velha Goa. A notable exception is the Our Lady of Immaculate Conception Church which is located in Panaji, the capital city of Goa. It is possessed of a singularly distinctive appearance thanks to the double flights of steps that zigzag across the hillside on which it is built.True to its name, the façade of this church is painted an immaculate, sparkling white. To the untrained eye, this might even belie the actual age and antiquity of this church.

 

Claim to Fame

 

This church houses the ancient bell that was removed from the Augustinian ruins of the Church of Our Lady of Grace. This bell is considered to be the second largest of its kind in Goa, surpassed only by the Golden Bell which resides in the Se Cathedral.
 

Timings

Being a functioning Parish, you can hear Mass at this church at the following times
Sunday – 7.00am, 8.15am, 9.30am, 10.30am and 5.30pm
The church is also open to the public every day from 9.00am – 12.30pm and 3.30pm – 7.30pm

 

Must View

 

·         The Augustinian bell housed in the main belfry.

This bell was rescued from the ruins of the Augustinian church of Our Lady of Grace, on the Monte Santo and initially installed in the chapel at the Fort Aguada. However the decision was later taken to install it in this, a more prominent church, instead. The bell was so heavy (2250kgs) that they needed to reinforce the structure before it could bear the added load. It is now housed in a tall belfry atop the church and there is a sign attached to the rope which asks that the bell not be rung.

·         Distinctive zigzagging stairway

The stairway was modelled after that of the Bom Jesus de Braga, Portugal with one middle and four side landings arranged in perfect symmetry. The middle landing has a statue of Our Lady on a 5m high plinth that was installed in 1954.

·         Two towers on either side of the façade

·         View of Panaji from the church steps

·         View of the church after sunset when the façade is lit by a multitude of lights

·         Statue of St. Francis Xavier, in the centre of the reredos

·         Carved altars and pulpits

·         Marble statues of St. Peter and St. Paul which flank the altar

·         Chapel of St. Francis Xavier

History, Construction and Architecture

 

The original construction on this site is believed to have been a chapel, built in 1541, so that sailors could give thanks to God for delivering them safely to Goa and avoiding the perils of the sea, before continuing their journey to Velha Goa.This chapel was later rebuilt, in 1619, into the church that stands there today. The architecture of the present church is a beautiful blend of the Portuguese-Baroque and Goan styles. The imposing façade is distinctive with its two towers and even taller belfry. It can be seen from a great distance, and is sometimes known as the ‘crown’ of Panaji.To reach the church, you have to climb 78 steps. This zigzagging double staircase was a later addition, added in 1871 after the land in front of the church was reclaimed, at the same time the pediment and belfry was strengthened in preparation for the installation of the heavy Augustinian bell.

 

Interior and Art

 

The interior of this church is comparatively simple, especially when one compares it to the profusely decorated reredoses and carvings that one sees in the churches in Old Goa. However, the decoration has been skilfully and gracefully executed both on the main altar and on the two sub-altars which flank it.The main altar is dedicated to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, known as Nossa Senhora da Immaculada Conceicao in Portuguese. The altar on the right is dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary while the one on the left is dedicated to the Crucifixion of Christ.

The church is laid out in the orthodox cruciform fashion with a nave and a transept. The main altar has a bas-relief carving of the Last Supper of Jesus with his Apostles. The pulpit has a depiction of the descending of the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove. The main altar is backed by a fantastically carved and gilded reredos, where the statue of St. Francis Xavier enjoys pride of place.The two sub-altars are also noteworthy for the carving and gilt work and they are flanked by statues of St. Peter and St. Paul. In the southern part of the transept is the chapel of St. Francis Xavier, which is very popular amongst the visitors to this church.

 

Festival

 

On the 8th of December this church celebrates the feast of the Immaculate Conception with great pomp and fervour. The celebrations are preceded by a nine day novena to Our Lady. The church is decorated with a profusion of lights and the vaulted ceiling is strung with blue and white flowers which reflect the colour scheme of the church (and of Our Lady).After the feast mass the people go in procession with a brass band and the candle sellers come out in force, to sell their wares to the faithful desirous of making offerings to Our Lady to ask for her intercession. After the procession there is often a firework display while the band continues to play festive mandos and fados. People enjoy themselves, walking amongst the stalls selling miniature statuettes, souvenirs, garments, food and drink, to name just a few.

 

Trivia

 

If you find the façade of this church familiar, that may be because it has been the backdrop for many a Bollywood movie shoot.Poised as it is on the hilltop, this church has been variously described as the ‘Crown of Panaji’, a ‘great big wedding cake’ like structure and ‘a bride waiting at the altar. One cannot seem to go anywhere in Panaji without passing, or at least seeing this church. However, for the discerning tourist, it is well worth a closer look.

 

# Se Cathedral, Goa

 

Standing with its gracious façade facing east to welcome each new day, and to the west of the great square Terreiro de Sabaio, Se Cathedral is the most imposing of all the churches at Old Goa, its vaulted interior overwhelming visitors with its sheer grandeur. Se Cathedral Goa, is dedicated to St. Catherine

Timings
Open everyday from 7.30 am to 6 pm.
Mass Timings
Weekdays – 7.30 am and 6.00 pm
Sunday – 7.15 am, 10.00 am and 4.00 pm

Claim to fame :

 

The Se Cathedral wast built to commemorate the victory of Afonso Albuquerque, which was won on the feast of St. Catherine of Alexandria, this edifice is the largest church in Asia. It is the Cathedral of the Archbishop of Goa.

With its superb Iberian façade, soaring ceilings, fabulous mosaic work, intricate wood and gilded carvings, the Se Cathedral, also sometimes called St. Catherine’s cathedral is an absolute must-see for any visitor in Goa.

 

Must See :

 

·         The existing bell tower containing the Golden Bell

·         The baptismal font used by St. Francis Xavier

·         The main altar with its gilded reredos depicting scenes from the life of St. Catherine of Alexandria as well as her martyrdom.

·         The Chapel of the Cross of Miracles, where a vision of the Christ was seen on the plain and unadorned cross in 1919.

·         The Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament with its skillfully carved and gilded wall and ceiling.

·         The wooden filigree screens separating the chapels from the nave.

·         The six additional altars in the transept with the paintings depicting the lives of the saints

·         The 18th century organ housed in one of the galleries.

·         The statuary and paintings along the walls and in the niches of the pillars, including statues of St. Francis Xavier, St Ignatius of Loyola, St. Peter, St Paul and St. Christopher.

History, Construction and Architecture

 

The construction of Se Cathedral in Goa started in 1562 and ended in 1652. The hundred years spent on this construction, have indeed been well worth it, as the proud cathedral still stands tall and almost unblemished today. Built on a raised laterite plinth and covered in lime plaster, this cathedral measures 250 feet (76 m) in length, 181 feet (55 m) in breadth whilst its frontispiece stands 115 feet (35 m) high

 

Interior and Artwork

 

The interior is laid out in a traditional cruciform shape, even though the exterior appears rectangular. The interior architecture is Corinthian. The main altar is dedicated to St Catherine of Alexandria. Besides the main altar there are eight chapels along the sides of the nave and six altars at the transept.Pope Pius the XII conferred upon this shrine the Golden Rose, which is a gold ornament, a token of reverence and affection. The ornament itself has since been placed on the tomb of St. Francis Xavier.Visitors to this shrine should make it a point to see the magnificent reredos above the main altar whose six gilded panels depict the life of Saint Catherine, the fifteen communion tables, dedicated to Our Lady of Three Needs, Our Lady of Hope and Our Lady of Anguish and the baptismal font, built in 1532 which was used by St. Francis Xavier to baptize converts. Also worth seeing, is the chapel of the Cross of Miracles, where a vision of the Christ has been said to have appeared in 1919.

 

St. Catherine of Alexandria

 

Usually numbered among early women martyrs, Catherine of Alexandria holds a special place among the prophetic saints in the church because of her role as philosophical defender of the faith. She is also the patroness of Christian philosophers besides being the patroness of the City of Old Goa, aka Velha Goa or Goa Velha.In Church art, St. Catherine of Alexandria, is depicted wearing a crown, (denoting her royal Birth), holding a book, (denoting knowledge), and steering a spiked wheel (denoting her martyrdom). The reason for this is tradition is to denote the notable epochs in her life.

 

Legend and Lore

 

Contrary to the idea that this chapel was built using funds from the Royal Treasury, some sources instead claim that it was built using money from the sale of properties that were impounded by the government.The Cross of Miracles (Khuris Milagre) is also credited with phenomenal power and significance some legends state that it is constantly, if slowly, growing, whilst others claim to have seen water spring from the rock upon which the cross is built.This Cathedral in Goa is not only worth a visit in its own right, but it is also convenient to several other tourist spots. The convent which adjoined the cathedral has been converted into an Archaeological Museum which is open to the public and the world famous Bom Jesus Basilica, lies just on the other side of the square. Small wonder then, that no visit to Goa could be considered complete without gazing at the awe-inspiring art and architecture of this most revered cathedral.

Se Cathedral Goa, is dedicated to St. Catherine

 

# St. Cajetan’s Church

 

Undisputedly one of the most beautiful churches in Goa, this gracious old building stands in Old Goa, northeast of the Se Cathedral. Although the Church was originally dedicated to Our Lady of Divine Providence, it is more commonly known as the Church of St. Cajetan, who was a contemporary of St. Francis Xavier and the founder of the Order of monks called the Theatines.This is probably due to their dedication and the lengths they went to, to get the church built in the first place.

 

Claim to Fame

 

It was built to have architectural similarities with St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. It also has superb examples of the Corinthian style.

 

Timings


The church is open seven days a week from 9.00 am to 7.00pm.

 

Must View List

 

·         Statues of St. Peter, St. Paul, St. John and St. Matthew niched in the façade

·         Hemispherical dome, reminiscent of St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome

·         Twin quadrangular belfry towers

·         Four pillars with arches supporting the Cupola

·         Verse from the gospel of Matthew inscribed around the cupola

The cupola has, inscribed around it, the following verse in Latin, “Quaerite primum regnum Dei et haec omnia adjicientur vobis” which in English translates to “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33)

·         Main altar with the beautifully carved altarpiece depicting Our Lady of Divine Providence

·         Paintings of the life of St. Cajetan adorning the walls and pillars

History, Construction and Architecture

 

This church was built by Italian Monks of the Order of Theatines in 1665. It’s crowned with a huge hemispherical dome, on the pattern of the Roman Basilica of St. Peter. However, instead of two cupolas it exhibits two quadrangular towers.The façade exhibits superb examples of Corinthian architecture. Four statues of St. Paul, St. Peter, St. John the evangelist and St. Matthew wrought in basalt are niched within it. It also has the words, “Domus mea, domus oration/s” which means, “My House is a House of Prayer” etched boldly across the portal.Within the compound of the church is an even more ancient arch with pillars covered in Hindu carvings. These are believed to the only remaining part of the Palace of Adil Shah, Sultan of Bijapur.
 

The construction of the Church and convent began in 1655 and was completed in 1661. The church is built of laterite blocks covered with lime plaster. Although small compared to some of the other Goan churches, it is heralded as being the epitome of art and craftsmanship. The sparkling white façade speaks eloquently as to the European origins of the churches architecture. In keeping with Theatine architectural practices, this church has no towers, but instead boasts two turrets which act as the belfries (bell towers).The frontispiece of the church has Corinthian columns, two stories high supporting a triangular pediment. The cupola is clearly visible, crowned with a lantern. There are also four ornamental niches in the façade containing the statues of the apostles.

 

Interior and Art

 

The interior of this church, whilst also Corinthian, shows Baroque, Rococo and Goan influences in the intricately carved and gilded work. There are eight columns that divide the church into a nave with six vaulted lateral chapels.The main altar is dedicated to Our Lady of Divine Providence, the patroness of the church. Underneath the altar there is a crypt with a vault resting on four pillars. There are also six more altars, three on each side of the main one.Beneath the dome , there is a 22 meters deep well devised by Fr. Francisco Manco , the architect, in order to provide an outlet for the waters oozing out of the subsoil, which had caused the walls to collapse twice.
 

As you enter the church, there are two fonts containing holy water, which once stood in the cathedral. The story goes that Cosimo III, Duke of Tuscany, donated Carrara marble fonts for holy water to this church, but these were later removed to the cathedral.The church is laid out in the shape of a Greek cross, although it appears oblong from the exterior. The eight columns divide the nave from the chapels on either side, and the four central pillars support the cupola with beautifully carved arches. Inscribed around the cupola is a verse in Latin, which reads “Quaerite primum regnum Dei et haec omnia adjicientur vobis” which in English translates to “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33). The windows set around the dome, ensure that the church is always well lit.
 
Below the cupola can be seen a covered well, which was either part of an earlier structure, most likely believed to be a mansion, or strategically placed there by the architect to deal with water seepage from the sub-soil. There is also a crypt which is the final resting place of many of the Theatine friars. Set into a multitude of niches around the vault are carved statues of various saints.The main altar is profusely carved and backed by a gilded reredos. This reredos is unique in that unlike most of the others seen in Goa, it tapers towards the ceiling and is crowned by a sun. The main altar is dedicated to Our Lady of Divine Providence. There is a statue of the Nossa Senhora de Divina Providencia seated within the reredos holding a host and chalice. At her feet are two angels and the legend “Comedite panem meum, et bibite vinum quod miscui vobis” the English translation of which is “Eat my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled for you” (Proverbs 9:5)
 
In addition to the main altar there are six more altars, three on either side. These altars have been profusely carved and gilded in the baroque style with twisted shafts and figures of angels. The three on the left are dedicated to St. Clare, the Holy Family and Our Lady of Piety; whilst those on the right are dedicated to St. Agnes, St John and St. Cajetan. These altars also have painting done on canvas, many of which depict the life of St. Cajetan. The paintings are of the Italian School that was popular at the time.Another unusual feature of this church is that it has not one, but two sacristies which are located on either side of the main altar. It is also said that the embalmed bodies of the Portuguese Governors were kept here till they could be sent back to Portugal. The church was used for this purpose until 1842.

 

Convent of St. Cajetan

 

Built on a much smaller scale than the church the convent is nevertheless an imposing structure. Its closure in 1835 forced sixteen Theatines to leave. It was then used as a residence for the Governors of Goa when they came to Old Goa for religious functions. Later still the gallery of portraits of the Viceroys and Governors was transferred here along with the ‘Museu da India Portuguesa’.Today however, the convent has once again been repurposed and in some part returned to its roots. It now houses the Pope Pius X institute for the Pastoral training of priests.

 

Legend and Lore

 

The story goes that three Italian Theatine monks were sent to India by Pope Urban VIII to spread Christianity in Golconda. Not being allowed to preach there, they came to Goa in 1640 and soon thereafter started the construction of a Hospital on the Monte Santo between the Nunnery of Santa Monica and the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary. However, as they were foreigners, the Viceroy of Goa stopped the construction and evicted them from Goa in 1645.Undeterred, the monks made their way to Portugal and petitioned the king himself representing the need for the hospital and asking that they be allowed to build it. King Dom Joao IV was impressed by their dedication and gave them his permission. They returned to Goa and built their hospital in 1650. Later, in 1655, they started building the Church and the convent which was attached to it.
 
The Theatines are also credited as being the ones who advocated that Holy Communion should be distributed to all Goan Catholics irrespective of their social class or caste. Prior to this Communion was reserved only for the higher classes of Indian Catholics. The Theatines demanded that the Archbishop convene a public conference and put forward many arguments from Scripture to support their convictions.An unrivalled depiction of beauty and grace, this church is yet another must see on a visit to Old Goa. The atmosphere is one of cool and collected reflection as it watches over its people, witnessing days stretch into years in the vast ocean of time.

 

 

 

# Rachol Seminary

 

Situated just off the banks of the Zuari river, 5 kilometers from Margao in South Goa and built in 1574—1610, this majestic seminary is a centre of learning in philosophy and theology.

 

# Reis Magos Church in Verem

 

“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.

 

Timings

Open everyday – 6.00am to 11.00pm
 
Mass Timings


Weekdays – 7.30 am
Sundays – 7.30 am and 5.00pm

 

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.

 

Must View

 

·         Bas relief lions at the base of the steps showing Hindu influences in Portuguese architecture.

·         Shrine to Our Lady of Health, built in 1510 to commemorate the Portuguese victory that won them Bardez.

·         Carving of the Three Magi bearing their gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh for the Holy Babe.

·         Tomb of Dom Luis de Ataide, the famous Portuguese Viceroy

Dom Luis de Ataide, was a famous Portuguese warrior, who according to legend, accomplished the great feat in 1570, of holding at bay an army of 100,000 men and 2000 elephants for ten months, with a battalion of just 7000 men.

History, Construction and Architecture

 

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 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.

Interior and Artwork

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.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.

 

Festival

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.

 

# Ruins of the Church of St. Augustine

 

Close to the Nunnery of Santa Monica, stands a lofty tower still proudly, defying the vagaries of the weather and the ravages time. This is the only surviving tower of the four that were once a part of the Church of St. Augustine. What was once perhaps the biggest Church in Goa is now a crumbling ruin, largely deserted, with its glory days behind it. However, this ruin still has some secrets left to divulge to those who are willing to dig deep enough to find them.
 
Claim to fame :

 

In 1986, UNESCO declared the ruins to be a World Heritage Site. It is also the site of the archaeological discovery of the remains of Queen Ketevan.
 
History, Construction and Architecture

 

This complex was built by the Augustinian order. It comprised the church of Our Lady of Grace, the Convent of Saint Augustine, The College of Populo, and The Seminary of St Guilherme.The church is dedicated to Our Lady of Grace. Its construction was started in 1597 and was completed around 1602. Originally comprising of four towers and a massive vault, the dimensions of this superb edifice placed it on par with the great imperial cathedrals of the Renaissance era.

The tower which still stands is built of laterite. This great structure stands four stories high. It was intended as a belfry. The ancient bell that once resided there has since been moved, first to the Fort Aguada and more recently to Our Lady of Immaculate Conception Church at Panaji, where it remains till today.The original Church of Our Lady of Grace once contained eight chapels, four altars and had a convent attached to it. Upon entering the church, there was a High altar backed by a richly carved retable, the whole structure being supported by soaring pillars, the vestiges of which remain visible today.The immense vault of the church collapsed in part due to its weight, and the nave of the church is now open to the sky. There was also an immense choir loft, capable of holding a large chorus of monks.The convent was built on three levels and once contained two cloisters, numerous corridors, pillars and galleries. The remains of a refectory i.e. dining hall, Guest house and Infirmary, all of which were very spacious, have also been found. It also had vast dormitories and numerous cells where the monks spent their day to day lives.

 

Abandonment and Ruination

 

In 1835, the Augustinians were expelled from Goa and as a result, the church was abandoned. In 1846, the main vault of the church collapsed and the convent rapidly decayed. Of all the majestic buildings, that once stood here, all that is left to see today is the belfry of the tower that soared 150 ft. high.

 

Legend and Lore

 

An old tale recounts how the vault of the church was problematic to construct and in fact fell down twice whilst being erected. The third time that it was put up, the architect, to show his confidence in his design stationed his only son within the church and ordered that a cannon be fired at the structure. Fortunately, his confidence was not misplaced, and the structure held.

 

 

 

Archaeological Heritage

 

Even though the original church lies in ruins, it becomes ever more apparent that it yet has unplumbed depths. Careful study beginning in 1990 has recently resulted in the discovery of the remains of the lost martyr, Queen Ketevan of Georgia.Queen Ketevan was the dowager queen of Kakheti, a kingdom of Georgia. After the death of her husband, the king, her kingdom was invaded by Shah Abbas I.Having easily conquered the kingdom, he took the Queen prisoner and she languished in Iran for almost a decade. In 1624, she was served an ultimatum by Shah Abbas I, she could convert to Islam and join his harem, or be tortured and executed. The Queen chose to die for her faith.

Accordingly, she was tortured by being stripped to the waist and having her flesh torn off with the use of red hot pincers before being strangled to death with a bow string. This took place on the 22
nd of September 1624.She was then buried, without ceremony. However she had, in her last days, befriended two Augustinian monks. These faithful men dug up her remains, smuggled them out of the country and brought them to Goa. An ancient Portuguese document suggests that the remains were entombed in a black sarcophagus and kept in the window embrasure of the convent of the Augustinian monks in Goa.However, when the convent and church were abandoned and fell into disrepair, many of the relics were looted and plundered. The remains of the good Queen were similarly thought to have been lost. However, recent archaeological excavations have resulted in the discovery of an arm bone and other bone fragments as well as the remains of a black box. After DNA testing, these bones are believed to be the remains of Queen Ketevan.There is little that can be seen today of the gracious and imposing church and monastery which once stood at this site, however, it is still considered worth a visit. Clambering over the old ruins causes one to reflect on the passage of time, and its vagaries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 # Basilica of Bom Jesus

 

Don’t let its unassuming air fool you, the Bom Jesus Basilica is a World Heritage Monument, and has been christened so by UNESCO. Its un-plastered exterior appears at first glance to be inferior as compared to the sparkling facades of churches like the Se Cathedral, but this little Basilica is rich in art, architecture and history, and the relics of Saint Francis Xavier are enshrined here.

 

Timings

 

·         Masses are held regularly at the Bom Jesus Basilica, the timings are as follows

·         Sunday – 8.00am, 9.15am and 6.00pm in Konkani, 10.15am in English

·         Mon to Sat – 7.00am, 8.00am and 6.00pm

·         Mass is also held at the chapel of St. Francis Xavier on the 6th of every month at 10.00am. Holy hour is held on the first Friday of every month at 5.00pm followed by Mass.

·         If you do not want to hear Mass, the Basilica is open to the public for viewing and exploration at the following times,

·         Mon to Sat – 9.00am to 6.30pm

·         Sunday – 10.30am to 6.30pm

 

Claim to fame : Houses the relics of St. Francis Xavier and is the only Basilica in Goa.

 

Must View

 

·         Quadrangular pediment at the top of the un-plastered façade

·         Carved columns both inside and outside

·         Statue of St. Francis Xavier

·         Main altar with carvings and gilding

·         Gilded reredos with the statues of St. Ignatius and the Infant Jesus

The reredos has within it a large statue of St. Ignatius of Loyola protecting the Infant Jesus. His eyes are raised to a carved disc, once more bearing the Jesuit emblem of “IHS”. Above this medallion is a depiction of the Holy Trinity, i.e. The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit.

·         Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament

·         Chapel of St. Francis Xavier

On the southern side of the transept lies the Chapel of St. Francis Xavier. This chapel has carved and gilded columns and wood-carved floral decorations. This is where the relics of the saint are kept. There is a gorgeous silver statue placed in front of the silver casket where the body of St. Francis Xavier reposes

·         Sacristy – chest containing the Golden Rose

·         Painting of the relics of the saint

·         Paintings of the saints

·         Modern art gallery paintings, especially “The Last Judgement” and “Genesis”

The Basilica also contains a modern art gallery with paintings depicting various Biblical scenes. The gallery can be accessed using the stairs near the sacristy. It is one of the largest of its kind in Asia. It contains 36 paintings executed between the years 1973 and 1976. The artist was paid only for the materials used as his talent was given gratis, for the greater glory of God.

 

History, Construction and Architecture