The largest of the churches at Old Goa, the construction of Se Cathedral began in 1562 during the reign of King Dom Sebastiao (1557-78) and substantially completed by 1619, though the altars were not finished until 1652. The cathedral was built for the Dominicans and paid for by the Royal Treasury out of the proceeds of the sale of the Crown's property.
Architecturally, the building is Portuguese-Gothic in style with a Tuscan exterior and Corinthian interior. There were originally two towers, one on either side of the facade, but the one on the southern side collapsed in 1776. This Cathedral has five bells. The existing tower houses a famous bell, one of the largest in Goa and often referred to as 'Golden Bell' on account of its rich sound. The main altar is dedicated to St. Catherine of Alexandria, and old paintings on either side of it depict scenes from her life and martyrdom.
This is probably one of the most interesitng buildings in Old Goa. It contains gilded, carved woodwork, old murals depicting scenes from the life of St. Francis, and a floor substantially made of carved gravestones - complete with family coats of arms dating back to the early 1500s. The church's humble beginnings were made by eight Franciscan friars who arrived here in 1517 and constructed a small chapel consisting of three altars and a choir. This was later pulled down and the present building was constructed on the same spot in 1661.
The convent at the back of this church is now the Archaeological Museum. It houses many portraits of the Portuguese Viceroys & fragments of sculpture from Hindu temple sites in Goa which show Chalukyan and Hoysala influences, stone Vetal images from the animist cult which flourished in this part of India centuries ago, and a model of a Portuguese caravelle minus the rigging.
The Basilica of Bom Jesus is famous throughout the Roman Catholic world since it contains the tomb and mortal remains of St.Francis Xavier who, in 1541, was given the task of spreading Christianity among the subjects of the Portuguese colonies in the east. A former pupil of St. Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Jesuit Order, St. Francis Xavier made missionary voyages in the east that became a legend.
Apart from the richly gilded altars, the interior of the church is remarkable for its simplicity, and this is the only church which is not plastered on the outside. It was commenced in 1594 and completed in 1605. The centre of interest inside the church is, of course, the tomb of St. Francis, the construction of which was underwritten by the Duke of Tuscany and executed by Florentine sculptor Giovanni Batista Foggini. It took 10 years to build and was completed in 1698. The remains of the body are housed in a silver casket which at one time was covered in jewels. On the walls surrounding it are murals depicting scenes from the saint's journeys, including one of his death on Sancian Island.
Next door to the Basilica is a two-storeyed laterite building covered with lime plaster which was completed in 1585 despite much opposition to the Jesuits. Part of the building burned down in 1663 but was rebuilt in 1783. There's a modern art gallery attached to the Basilica.
Timings : Sunday 10:00 to 18:30 hours. Weekdays : 09:00 to 18:30 hours.
The Church of Our Lady of Divine Providence (popularly known as the Church of St. Cajetan) and the Convent of St. Cajetan were built by the Theatines, who were called Clerigos Regulares da Divina Providencia.
In 1639, Pope Urban VIII sent three Italian Theatines to Golconda for missionary work. They were D. Pedro Avitabili, D. Francisco Marci and D. Antonio Maria Ardizone. But as they could not go to Golconda, they came to Goa on 25th October 1640. At first, they stayed at Rui Baracho's, behind the Collegio de S. Paulo o Velho. Later they changed their residence successively to two other private houses, Fr. Diogo de Sant Anna's and Beco do Bachrel's, between the Convent of St. Monica and Rosario Church. Here they started building a hospital but as they were foreigners, they were stopped by the viceroy in 1643 and ordered to leave Goa in 1645. In these circumstances, their courageous superior D. Pedro Avitabili went to Portugal to explain to the King, Dom Joao IV, how advantageous it would be for the christian religion if they were allowed to work in Goa together with the Portuguese priests. The king was impressed and allowed them to build the hospital in 1650. Later, in 1655, they were given permission to build the Church and a Convent. In 1661 the Church was ready. The Convent which was built at the same time, was very small in the beginning and was enlarged later.
From 1640 to 1750 all the Theatines were Europeans. 56 Theatines and three novices were supposed to come from Europe in 1750, but some died and others returned to Europe, so that only 34 arrived in Goa. It must be noted that at this time the relationship between the Government and the Theatines was very tense on account of their submission to the Congregation of Propaganda Fide. As there were no more hopes of getting European Priests, the Prefect (Superior of the Theatines in Goa) obtained permission to obtain permission to ordain native priests.
It was due to the efforts of the Theatines that Indian Catholics of lower classes were administered Holy Communion. The usual practice was to administer it only to the higher caste Indian Catholics. At the Theatines' request, the Archbishop convened a public meeting and solid arguments from Scripture and Tradition were put forth by the Theatines, specially by D. Antonio Ardizoni, in favour of their proposition.
All that is left of this church is the enormous 46 metre high tower which served as a belfry and formed part of the facade of the church. What little is left of the other parts of the church is choked with creepers and weeds, and access is difficult. The church was constructed in 1602 by Augustinian friars who arrived in Goa in 1587. It was abandoned in 1835 as a result of repressive policies followed by the Portuguese government, which resulted in the eviciton of many religious orders from Goa. The church fell into neglect and the vault collapsed in 1842. Many years later, in 1931, the facade and half the tower fell down, followed by more parts in 1938.
This huge, three storeyed laterite building was commenced in 1606 and completed in 1627, only to burn down nine years later. Reconstruction started the following year, and it's from this time that the buildings date. It was once known as the Royal Monastery on account of the royal patronage which it enjoyed. The building is now used by the Mater Dei Institute as a nunnery which was inaugurated in 1964. Visitors are allowed inside. There are fading murals on the western inside walls.
The church of Reis Magos beckons the visitors as he crosses River Mandovi from Panaji and steps on to Betim Bardez taluka. The church was originally founded by the Franciscan Friars and was dedicated to Magi Kings. It was reconstructed in 1771 AD and then considerably improved in 1945. It was declared a national monument by the Portuguese. As one motors down to the Sinquerim-Calangute coast, there is singular attraction which one cannot afford to miss. It is the Church of Mother of God. This is an excellent example of neo-Gothic style of architecture with turrets jutting out into the sky. Work on the church began in 1867 AD and the monument was blessed in 1973 AD having been dedicated to the most Holy immaculate Mother of God.
At Saligao Bardez, 13 kms. Built in 1873, is situated amidst picturesque surroundings. The shrine of the miraculous statue of Mae de Deus (Mother of God) was brought from the ruins of the convent of Mae de Deus at Old Goa. This beautiful church is the finest piece of gothic style.
At Curtorim, 9 Kms from Margao. It is one of the oldest churches in Goa, built in 1597.
At Talaulim Ilhas, 11 Kms. Dedicated to St. Ana, is a remarkable piece of ancient Christian architecture. It was built in 1695 on the right bank of Siridao river 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.
Overlooking the Arabian sea is the hillock of Siquerim. Atop it is the Church of St. Lawrence, which was built by the Viceroy Miguel de Noronha in 1630 AD and handed over to Franciscans in 1636 AD. It was further improved in 1643 AD and was made a Parish church in 1689 AD. The St. Jerome's Chruch of Mapusa is more known for the devotion of Our Lady of Miracles. The local belief is that Lady of Miracles is the sister of goddess Layeerai whose temple is situated at Sirigao in Bicholim taluka. The church was first built in 1594 AD and was reconstructed in 1674 AD. After having been partially destroyed in fire in 1836, it was built in 1839 AD.
Another impressive church with a massive facade is that of St. Thomas situated at Aldona. A smaller church was initially built by the Gaonkars at Coimbawado in 1569 AD. But the church at the present site was constructed in 1596 AD during the tenure of Archbishop Aleixo de Menezes. Also of considerable interest to visitors is the hugh Church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception at Moira, which was originally built in 1636 but had to undergo changes on five occasions, the last being in 1832 AD. The bellfry had to be enlarged to accommodate the new bell installed then. The church of St. Christopher is situated at Tivim in Bardez Taluka.
The second leg of church pilgrimage can well commence with a visit to the Majestic church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception in Panaji which is famous for its artistic staircase besides the abounding veneration on the part of the faithful. A chapel existed here well before 1541 AD and it was made a parish church in 1600 AD. Some years later, the structure was re-erected from its foundation. The church feast held in December draws large crowds of devotees. Like Sri Shantadurga, Our Lady of Immaculate Conception is venerated all over Goa.
It may be noted with great regret that at present only the façade of the Church, in Doric style remains. In 1827 both the College and the Church were in a dilapidated state and a small part of the college could be seen. Regarding the Church, façade (which has still withstood the vagaries of time and men), the sidewalls, the choir cloister, staircase and arches could be seen among palm trees and shrubs. Abbé Cottineau writes that "nous avons pentré avec et dont le terrain est couvert d'arbustes et herbes, la retraite des serpents." In 1829 the Goverment demolished all the standing portions except for the façade and the material was transported to Panjim to be utilized for new constructions.
In 1541, two secular priests viz. Diogo de Borba and Minguel Vaz established the "Santa Fe" confraternity and they set up a College for the new converts for the East. The building work of the church & college which began on November 10, 1541, was completed on January 25, 1543, feast of Conversion of St. Paul to whom the church was dedicated.
When the construction was progressing, Fr. Francis Xavier arrived in Goa and selected for his residence the Hospital Real (Royal Hospital). When Fr. Borba died in 1548, the institution was handed over to Xavier who accepted it in the name of Society of Jesus, after completing the legal formalities. The central and local governments supported it with rich endownments. With this backing, the old college edifice was demolished and the two distinct buildings were erected one for the students and the other for the residence of the Jesuits. Both of them were connected with a passage. The former was named as Seminario de Santa Fe and the other as Collegio de S. Paulo.
In 1556, the doors of the college were opened even to those who were interested in secular studies through an ordinance issued by King D. Joao III. In 1568 the faculty consisted of 88 Jesuits and three thousand students from India and other parts of the East. The Jesuits had been empowered with the faculty of conferring the Masters degree (mestre em artes) and even the Ph. D. degree (doutor)
Besides the Seminary of Santa Fe, the following institutions were attached to the College: a novitiate, a professed house, a hospital and a house for the newly converts.
The College had a large library and the first printing press in Asia was set up in this College, through which came the first printed publications.
In 1560 the Church was demolished on account of its weak condition and the foundation stone for a larger Church with three naves was laid on 25th January, 1560. It was twenty years later that one of the walls developed cracks and three arches of magnificent dimensions covering the existing road were built as support under the supervision of Jesuit João de Faria. As such it was popularly known as S. Paulo dos Arcos (St. Paul of Arches).
It was for the first time that Santos Passos (dramatic representation of Passion of Christ) were introduced in Asia in this institution. The penitential procession was characterized by public self-flogging. There were booths erected in different places to provide first aid. The tradition of spreading or throwing flowers on the occasion of the feast of Our Lady of Mount originated here. Above all, the greatest honour that this institution received was the presence of Francis Xavier whenever he was in Goa and the first public exposition of his incorrupt body after his death. The martyrs of Cuncolim were also buried here.
In 1570 there was an epidemic and the Jesuits acquired some houses belonging to Pedro de Faria on the hill of Nossa Senhora do Rosario in 1578 for the residence of the Convalescents. The complex was named as Colegio de S. Roque (1580). All the departments of studies from College of S. Paul were transferred to College of S. Roque which was also known as College of S. Paulo O Novo (St. Paul, the New).
The construction of a new building in this place met with a stiff opposition of Augustinians and nuns from Sta. Monica. The Jesuits had some other enemies too, who set fire to the building four times between 1591 and 1675. Once, the Rector of the College D. Jeronimo Xavier, a relation of Francis Xavier was the victim of these flames. There was a surplice of Francis Xavier deposited in a silver box in this College which was later taken to Basilica of Bom Jesus.
The printing press from the old college was also transferred to College of St. Paul the New and the third edition of Purana of Fr. Thomas Stephen was printed here, in 1654.
The Hospital Real functioned here from 1760 to 1764 after the closure of the college. Today there is nothing left for the visitor to admire, not even the stones.
On the southern side of the city there is a hill named Monte de Boa Vista. It is the site of the abandoned Church of Cruz dos Milagres and the Convent of the Congregation of the Oratory. Tradition attributes the origin of this Church to a miracle which took place in 1619. It is described in the Ms., Chronica da Congregação do Oratorio. The Church fell down in 1659 and was rebuilt in 1671. A few years later it was handed over to some native priests who had formed a religious community called Congregação do Oratorio. Ven. Fr. Jose Vaz joined this Congregation in 1685. When the religious orders were suppressed, thirty six members who lived there were forced to leave the house.