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 daily.
Basilica of Bom Jesus
In 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 fa?ade 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 altar.
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 fa?ade 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 Church.
Chapel of St Anthony
In 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
In 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 reconquest.
Although small in size, this chapel was made
a cathedral on 3 November 1534 and remained so until the new cathedral
was built. Its fa?ade 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
Church of Our Lady of the
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 Spirit 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 fa?ade 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 of Mount
In 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 of Miracles
In Mapusa, this church was built in 1594
over a destroyed temple. It has an exquisite Baroque fa?ade, 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
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
In 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 fa?ade 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
Church of Reis Magos
In 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 (Santana)
In 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.
of St Francis of Assisi
In 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 fa?ade
are the two unusual features in the style of the otherwise exclusively
Church and Convent of St
In 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
In 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
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
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.
In 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.
The fa?ade 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.
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
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"
METHODIST CHURCHES IN GOA
Panaji: Live-in-Apartments, 2nd
floor, General Bernardo Guedes Road. Tele.No.+91 832 2465378.
English service at 9.00 a.m on Sundays.
Ponda: Mount Carmel Chapel, B-2, Neel Kamal
Co-operative Housing Society, Shanti Nagar. Tele.No. 316719 English
service at 10.00 a.m on Sundays.
Margao: Near Jet International Travels, Borda.
Tele 9822180638, +91 832 2700297 or +91 832 2788985. English service
at 09.30 a.m on Sundays.
Vasco: Westend Hotel, Opp.Anapurana Hotel,
Near Market. Tele.No. 519738, 519739. Tamil service at 9.00 a.m