Churches travel information
Goa has truly earned
the name "Rome of the East". It abounds in churches and chapels,
some dating back to the 16th century. The profusion and architectural
excellence of churches include superb examples of late Renaissance, early
Baroque, Manueline and Gothic. These churches have very intricate detailing
and ornamentation. The most popular or the best known are the churches
and cathedrals at Old Goa. But these are definitely not the only ones
worth mentioning. Here are some worth visiting. They will certainly be
open on Sundays; other days are variable. The ones at Old Goa are open
Basilica of Bom
Old Goa, this imposing Basilica was built by the Jesuits, and consecrated
to the Holy Name of Jesus on 15 May 1605. The mortal remains of St Francis
xavier are housed inside. Until the church was built, they were kept at
St Paul's Old Goa.
The casket holding
the body of the saint was a gift of the Duke of Tuscany. The body of the
saint is dressed in rich vestments with an embroidered coat of arms. On
the right-hand side is a golden baton with 194 emeralds and at the feet
is a big gold medal of King Dom Pedro II.
The Basilica's three-storey
western front overlooks a forecourt, which it shares with the 'Casa Professa'
(Professed House) of the Jesuits. The imposing façade of black
granite is remarkable for its simplicity. The first thing the visitor
sees as he enters the church is the life size statue of St Ignatius of
Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, which occupies the center of the main
Before the Professed
House was built, this area was a vast square known as 'Terreiro dos Galos'
because cockfights were held here. The professed House of the Jesuits
was constructed in 1585, stoutly opposed by the Municipal Chamber of the
city, the Santa Casa de Misericordia and the Franciscans. It was rebuilt
in 1663, after a fire. The somewhat forbidding façade is linked
to the Basilica of Bom Jesus by a beautiful arcaded courtyard. Today there
are only few Jesuit fathers who hold retreats for youngsters who occupy
this building. The most important feature of the exterior of this Basilica
is the west fade, more elaborately decorated than that of any other Goan
Chapel of St Anthony
Old Goa, this chapel, on the hill near the church of Our Lady of Rosary,
is dedicated to the patron saint of Portugal. It was the royal chapel.
The statue of St Anthony was given the rank of captain of the army, with
a salary due to his rank. This statue was even taken in solemn procession
to the State Treasury Office where the treasurer would respectfully deposit,
in the hands of the statue, the salary due to him. Small in proportions,
the chapel has only a nave with flanking passages. The main alter has
a vaulted paneled ceiling similar to that of the church of St Francis
of Assisi. Clerestory windows flood the nave with sunlight.
Chapel of St Catherine
Old Goa, as a small freestanding structure, it was the first place of
worship ever to be erected in Goa after the reconquest in 1510. It was
built in thanks for the victory against the Muslims and is dedicated to
St Catherine because her feast day is on 25 November, the date of the
Although small in
size, this chapel was made a cathedral on 3 November 1534 and remained
so until the new cathedral was built. Its façade is Renaissance,
a style later amplified for the present cathedral built nearby. A place
card on the enlarged structure implied that the gateway of Muslim city's
wall was located here. It was further rebuilt just before the Portuguese
were expelled from Goa.
Church of Our Lady
of the Immaculate Conception
Panaji, set in the heart of Panaji, this church was built around AD1514.
Originally a chapel, it was elevated to a church in AD1600 and then renovated
in AD1619. The bell of the church is second in size only to that of the
Se Cathedral at Old Goa. The bell's size is explained by the fact that
it was not originally in this church but was brought from the ruined Augustinian
monastery in Old Goa. At the base of the church is Church Square. Red
laterite steps joined in white create a dazzling pattern leading to the
entrance of the church. The staircase was built in 1870. In the sanctuary,
the three alter pieces are great examples of Baroque craftsmanship. A
chapel in the church dedicated to St Francis Xavier is on the south side.
Church of the Holy
In Margao, first built in 1564, it was burnt down by Muslims (1571) and
later rebuilt but demolished again in 1645. The final structure was completed
in 1675, with a façade of Ionic columns flanked by two towers,
which are seen over Margao and its surroundings. The church has ten altars
and two small chapels. One is dedicated to Archangel Michael, and the
other to St Roque and St Peter.
Church of Our Lady
old Goa, on the summit of hillock opposite the Se Cathedral stands the
Church of Our Lady of the Mound (Feast day, 8 September). Neat stone steps
leads up to the top. This Where the artillery of Yusuf Ali Adil Shah fired
from and decimated Alfonso de Albuquerque's forces, Albuquerque reconquered
Goa in 1510 and commissioned Our Lady of the Mound as part of this votive
offering for victory. Although this church can hardly be called one of
the architectural jewels of Goa, from its steps one gets a splendid view
of the surrounding great churches.
Church of Our Lady
Mapusa, this church was built in 1594 over a destroyed temple. It has
an exquisite Baroque façade, three alter, and the main one is dedicated
to Our Lady of Miracles and is richly carved, as is the pulpit. The ceiling
is intricately patterned with strips of wood. The image of Nossa Senhora
de Milagres (Our Lady of Miracles) is held in great veneration, both by
Hindus and Christians alike. The Hindus consider her a sister of Lairaee
at Sirigao. The church was restored after a disastrous fire in 1838; it
was again damaged when the Portuguese tried to blow up the adjacent bridge
in 1961 while resisting India's attempt to liberate Goa.
Church of the Rosary
or Mac De Deus Church
In Saligao, this church, in fine neo-Gothic style, was built in 1873 amidst
picturesque surroundings. The shrine of the miraculous statue of the Mother
of God was brought from the ruins of the convent of Mac De Deus, Old Goa.
Young boys are prepared at the minor seminary here for eventual enrollment
Church of Our Lady
of the Rosary
Old Goa, also known as the Church of St Mary of Rosary, this church was
build in 1543 on the Holy Mound (Monte Santo) close to the convents of
St Monica and St Augustine. Its importance is that it stands on the exact
spot from where the conqueror of Goa, Alfonso de Albuquerque, witnessed
the reconquest of Goa in 1510. The church bears following inscription
place there in 1931: Deste alto assistiu Alfonso de Albuquerque em 25-11-1510,
a recoqquista de Goa (from this hill Alfonso de Albuquerque on 25 November
1510 witnessed Portugal's reconquest of Goa). This was Old Goa's parish
church from 1543. St Francis Xavier would preach here in the evening,
ringing his little bell to attract large crowds. The church is the oldest
complete structure to survive in Old Goa. The church's architectural style
is Manueline, a blending of later Gothic and Renaissance. It is similar
to the churches in Portugal such as the Church of Madelena of Olivenca
noted for its façade composed of large square towers. The ceiling
of the church is wooden. The Church's austere, Romanesque external simplicity
contrasts with the internal richness of the late Gothic decoration. Inside
lies the tomb of Dona Catarina, wife of the Viceroy Garcia de Sa, whose
marriage St Francis Xavier is said to have celebrated. As a whole, the
church marks the beginning of Indo-Portuguese art. As the church is open
only on special occasions, few visitors are able to view the simple but
delightful interior with its beamed roof.
Church of Reis
Verem (Bardez), set on the right bank of the Mandovi River, the church
was built in 1555. It is dedicated to the Three Magic Kings. Three viceroys
who died while on service in Goa are buried here. Every 6 January, the
feast of Reis Magos is celebrated here. This was once the home of all
dignitaries of the Franciscan order and their mission. It is built next
to the Reis Magos fort, which is entirely a prison now.
Church of St Anne
Talaulim, dedicated to St Ana, the grandmother of Jesus Christ, this is
Goa's best surviving Baroque church. It was completed in 1695 on the right
bank of Siridao River not far from Pilar Seminary and has picturesque
surroundings. The unique feature of this church is that it has hollow
walls through which people could walk in secrecy for the purpose of confession.
Best visited on Sundays, as it is sure to be open.
Church of St Cajetan
In Old Goa, standing close to the ruins of the Viceregal Palace, Italian
friars of the Theatine order built this beautiful church in 1656. Though
the church is small, it is clearly inspired by the Basilica of St Peter
in Rome. The external architecture is Corinthian, the interior Mosaico-Corinthian.
In the middle of the nave, directly under the cupola, is a well that is
covered except for small opening. The green grass on the cupola is attributed
to the moisture emanating from the sell. The Pastoral Centre for its liturgical
services recently renovated the church. It is the only surviving domed
church in Goa.
Church of St Francis
Old Goa, the convent and church of St Francis of Assisi is next to the
Cathedral. The church was first built in 1510 and rebuilt from 1521 onwards
on the site of a mosque. It has the most beautiful interior of all churches
in Old Goa, wonderfully enriched with gold, especially at the east end.
The painted ceiling remains, as do the 17th century wall paintings in
the chancel. Portuguese tombstones carpet the nave floor. A Manueline
doorway and octagonal towers flanking the façade are the two unusual
features in the style of the otherwise exclusively Baroque church.
Church and Convent
of St Augustine
Old Goa, a lonely tower retaining its original height of 46 meters (150
feet) overlooks the old city. It is a mere skeleton of the old square
towers and the treat church, which are now a heap of ruins covered by
vegetation. Yet it is impressive. A dozen Augustinian friars on their
arrival in Goa built this convent in 1572. After a decade this convent
was rebuilt, mainly through the efforts of Fr.Gaspar de Sao Vicente, and
dedicated to Our Lady of Grace. It became Goa's richest convent, with
a massive adjoining church, whose vaulted nave was one of Goa's feats
of construction. During construction, the high vault fell down twice.
However, the Italian architect would not give up. When built a third time,
he and his only son stood under the vault and asked for a heavy cannon
to be fired to test the stability of the structure. It did not fall down-until
much later. Then the bell, Goa's second largest, was removed from the
belfry and transferred to the Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception,
Panaji. Towards the south of the convent, the Novitiate of the Augustinians
was an integral part of the convent, while the majestic 'Collegio do Populo'
was for training younger brethrens. It was linked to the Novitiate by
a bridge over the Rua DOS Judeus (Street of the Jews). This group of imposing
Augustinian buildings was abandoned when the order was suppressed.
Church and Convent
of St John of God
In Old Goa, built in 1685, right next to St Augustine, the church is dedicated
to Our Lady of Good Success. It gradually declined in importance until
1834 when the building was bought by the nuns of St Monica to be used
as residence for their chaplains and confessors. It is comparatively simple
in style and was completely restored by the Portuguese just before they
were expelled from Goa. Franciscan nuns who run an Old Age Home now occupy
the church and convent.
Church and Convent
of St Monica
Old Goa, although largely decayed now, this was Goa's only convent for
nuns. It was started on the holy hill in 1606 but was finished only in
1627, because a fire destroyed the building in 1620. It took 15 years
to rebuild. This vast church and convent met all the needs of the 150
cloistered nuns from the retreat of Nossa Senhora de Serra. It had vast
corridors, vaulted ceilings, a courtyard called 'Vale de Liro' and a three-storey
palazzo-style building containing nun's cells, penance rooms and a dungeon.
The 'penitents', either
voluntarily or through persuasion, flagellated and stigmatized themselves
with ropes, lather straps and iron nails. The 'recalcitrant' were cast
in the dungeon, and here the Rodeira-the nun who held the keys to the
outer door of the cloister-dealt with them and they were jailed for life.
In the entrance the
nunnery, there was a turntable with a hand-bell by it. Until the 19th
century, illegitimate children were deposited here in the dead of night.
When the bell was rung, the Rodeira would turn the table through an opening
in the wall, pull the unwanted child and have it baptized. The turntable
has long since been dismantled, the wall whitewashed and all memories
of the practice physically erased. The 17th century frescos on the dome
have also been destroyed. Today, much decayed, it is Asia's largest training
center for Catholic nuns. At present this building is also the Master
Dei Institute, use by nuns of various orders for their theological studies.
Old Goa, the imposing Se Cathedral was completed in the year 1631. Work
had begun in 1562 and it took over 62 years to complete. The massive structure,
the largest in Goa, is dedicated to St Catherine of Alexandria on whose
feast day in 1510, Alfonso de Albuquerque defeated the Muslim army and
repossessed the city of Goa. The tower on the right fell down in 1776
and has not been rebuilt. A mosque earlier occupied the cathedral site.
Its inspiration may be the cathedral at Porto Alegre in Portugal, although
it differs in the plan of the apse and the transepts.
rises 115.66 feet to the crowning cross. The exterior is built in half-Tuscan,
half-Doric style, the inside in Mosaico-Corinthian. The nave is 72 feet
high; near the entrance is the Baptismal font where St Francis Xavier
is said to have baptized thousands of Goan converts. The main alter is
engraved with images of martyrdom of St Catherine. The Chapel of the Blessed
Sacrament is beautifully decorated. The north tower was lost in 1776 after
being struck by lightning. The south tower accommodated what is known
as the 'golden bell', due to its resonant tone. Adjoining the Cathedral,
on its northwestern side, stands the Old Palace of the Archbishop.
In the neighborhood
of the Cathedral was the famous Palace of Inquisition, the Senate House
and the 'Estancia Real de Tobaco' or Royal Depot of Tobacco. Here you
will also find the ruins of the Royal Palace and its gateway just in front
of the Church of Diving Providence, or the Church of St Cajetan, as it
is popularly known. The doorway suggests Indo-Muslim influence, and remains
one of Muslim tombs and mosques.
St Alex Church
In Calangute, this is one of Goa's oldest churches, built in 1597 on the
site of a Hindu shrine called Ravalnath, whose remains can still be seen.
It overlooks the main road to Mapusa.
Our Lady of Mercy
In Colva, founded in 1630, and rebuilt in the eighteenth century on the
village square, houses one of Goa's most venerated cult objects; the miraculous
statue of "Menino" Baby Jesus.
Goa in Detials