CHURCHES OF OLD GOA
The churches of old Goa stand as testimony of the wealth and gandeur of
that city in the first two centuries of Portugese rule. The churches are all that are left
about the old city, as if symbolising the permanence of the spiritual above the material.
Basilica of Bom Jesus :
The most important of these churches is popularly known as the
BASILICA OF BOM JESUS in which are enshrined the remains of ST.FRANCIS XAVIER. The
was built by the Jesuites,and consecrated to the Holy name of Jesus on 15th May 1605.The
imposing facade built out of black granite in an exquisite combination of the Doric, Corinthian
and composite styles, is remarkable for its simplicity. It measures 183 ft
in length,55 ft in breath, and 61 ft in height. The main altar is 54 ft high and 30 ft
broad.As the visitor enters the church his attention is caught by a life size statue of
Saint Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuites,which occupies the main altar. To
visitors right is a chapel in which stands the mausoleum that holds the relics of
The SE Cathedral :
The principle church of Goa and at one time the main church of the east
Goa THE SE CATHEDRAL dedicated to St.Catherine of Alexandria on whose feast day in 1510
Alfonso Albuquerque defeated the Muslim army and took possession of the city of
church is 250 ft in length and 181 ft in breath. The frontispiece stands 115 ft high. The
tower on the right came down in 1776 and had not been rebuilt. The exterior is built in
half Tuscan,half Doric style,and the side in Mosaico-Corinthian,is divided by two rows of
massive pillars into a nave and two aisle. The nave is 72 ft high. Near the entrance, to
the right, is the baptismal font in which St Francis Xavier is said to have baptized thousands
of Goon converts.
Engraved on the main altar are relics depicting the martyrdom of St Catherine.The CHAPEL
OF THE BLESSED SACRAMENT is 72 ft long and 22ft broad and is beautifully adourned.Just
behind the cathedral lies the Palace of the Archbishop,a two storied edifice which is no
longer in use.
To the west of the cathedral is the Franciscan church and the adjourning residence of the
friars which are said to have been comple- -ted in 1521.Except for the portal which
belongs to the church,it was entirely rebuilt in the second half of the 17th century.It
was described as one of the best churches of Goa,and even though all that we see today are
only the traces of the original grandeur,it is still worth a visit.The adjourning convent
has been turned in to an Archeological Museum and is open to the public.
Cajetan Church :
To the north east of the Cathedral,about half a kilometer away and
close to the ruins of the Viceregal Palace,is the beautiful church dedicated to St
Cajetan,built by Italian Friars of the Theatine order. The church is small but it exceeds
in beauty of the Cathedral itself.It is said to have been built after the style of the
Basilica of St.Peter in Rome.The external architecture is Corinthian,and the inteiors are
in the Mosaic-Corinthian style.In the middle of the nave,directly under- -neath the
beautiful cupola,is a well which is covered for a small opening.The green moss on the
cupola is attributed to the moisture emanating from the well.Recently with the
construction of the Diocesan Pastoral Centre where the Theatine Monastry was,the church
was renovated and used by the Pastrol Centre for its liturgical services. The altars of
the old church are left in their original form,and though their rich gilding has
faded,they are worth seeing.
Convent of St. John of GOD :
The holy hill is so called because of the number of churches
located on it.It is situated in front of the BASILICAN of BOM JESUS, about 200 meters
away.As one goes up this small hill,to the left is the Church and CONVENT OF ST.JOHN OF
GOD,which is now being used as a home for the aged.To the right is the Church and CONVENT
OF SANTA MONICA,a large and magnificent structure,the first convent for nuns in India,
founded in 1606.It now houses the college where women religious of all congregations can
now come for theological study.In front of the church of Santa Monica,one sees the tower
and ruins of what was once the AUGUSTINIAN CHURCH and Monastary.To its north is the royal
chapel of ST ANTHONY OF PADUA,attached is the novitiate of the Sisters of the Holy family
of Nazareth,a congregation of nuns founded in Goa.Further south we see the church of OUR
LADY OF THE ROSARY.It was the Parish church of the city since 1543,and the place where St
Francis Xavier would teach catechism in the evenings,to those who flocked at the sound of
a little bell,that he would ring.
Lady of the Mount Church :
The Church of our Lady Of The Mount stands on the summit of a
hillock opposite the Se Cathedral. Neat stone steps lead to the top. It was from here that
the artillery of Yusuf Adil Shah decimated the forces of Afonso de Albuquerque, who was
forced to take refuge on his ships at the mouth of the River Mandovi. The vaulted building
has a main altar dedicated to Our Lady Of The Mount with the Infant Jesus. The feast of
the Church is celebrated on September the 8th.
Cruz Church :
South of the Basilica Of Bom Jesus on a hill called Calcada Da Luz is
the church of Cruz Dos Milagres. In 1619 the miraculous apparition of Christ is said to
have taken place on a wooden cross placed there by the parish priest Se Cathedral. The
Archbishop of Goa then ordered the construction of the church, which was later abandoned
due to insalubrious conditions and various epidemics. The cross was transferred to one of
the Chapels Se Cathedral.
To the left on the road to Ponda one can see the Arch of The College Of St. Paul built in
1542 by Diogo Borvia and Minguel Vaz. It was the seminary of Sante Fe, that was handed
over to the Jesuits to start a teaching institute. St Francis Xavier arrived in Goa on the
6th of May 1542 as the Papal Nuncio. The College was consecrated on the 25th of January
1543, the feast of St Paul. St Francis Xavier taught at this college. At one time there
were 38 Jesuite teachers and 3000 students, including a few Japanese who had been
converted by the Saint during his mission in that country. The Institute had the first
printing press in Asia. Priests from this same institute went to Fatehpur-Sikri, the
capital of Akbar the Great Moghul at his invitation.
This church is one of the richest churches in Goa and is carpeted with
marble flooring and inlaid with precious stones.The church of Bom Jesus Good or Infant
Jesus is well known originally for the tomb of St. Francis Xavier. The church also holds
paintings of St. Francis Xavier.This church stands as the best example of baroque
architecture. The mortal of St. Francis which was bought to Goa, almost 150 year after his
death still remains there. It was a gift by Medici, Cosimo III who was the Grand Duke of
Tuscany. The mortal lies in a silver casket, containing a airtight glass coffin, the caet
being designed by a 17th century Florentine jeweller. This church is frequented by a large
number of tourists.
Sé Catedral at Old Goa :
The construction of the church began in 1562 and was completed in 1612,
during the rule of King Dom Sebastião which lasted for 21 years from the year 1557. The
attars remained to be completed till 1652. The Royal Treasury paid the proceeds through
the crowns property and were essentially made for the Dominicans.The building is
Portuguese-Gothic in style.It has an Tuscan type exterior and Corinthian interior.The
church which is one of the largest, has one of the larges bells called 'Golden Bell',
amongst the five bells present there.Amongst the two towers on either side the facade one
of them collapsed in 1776.The main alter which holds paintings of life Catherine of
Alexandria, is dedicated to her.
Convent Church of St. Francis of Assisi at Old Goa :
This splendid building was earlier a small which consists of three
attars and a choir which were constructed by five Franciscan Friars in 1517. This was then
converted into a fascinating building of finely carved woodwork, old murals telling tales
of life of St. Francis and a floor of carved gravestone, with family coats and arms of the
Basilica of Bom Jesus at Old Goa :
The basic attraction of this church is the mortal remains of St.
Francis Xavier. It is famous throughout the Roman Catholic world for this very
Xaviers had come in 1541, to spread Christianity among the Portuguese pupils.
Reis Magos Church at Verem, Betim :
This church wad dedicated to the Magi Kings of their time. It was
founded by Franciscan Friars. It holds the interest of the tourist as soon as he
crosses the River Mandovi from Panaji and enters the taluka of Betim Bardez.
The Church of Mãe de Deus at Saligao :
The work of this Church began in 1867 A.D. and was completed in 1873
A.D. In 1973 A.D the monument was blessed as it was dedicated to the most Holy immaculate
Mother of God. Hence it is called the 'The Church of Mother of God'. The shrine of the
Supernatural statue of Mãe de Deus (Mother of God) was brought from the ruins of the
convent of Mãe de Deus at Old Goa. The surroundings of this church are extremely
Church of Our Lady of Miracles :
This church which was reconstructed in 1674 A.D. was originally built
in 1594 A.D. The people believe that Lady of Miracles is the Sister of Goddess Layeerai .
The temple of Goddess Layeerai is situated in Sirigao in Bicholim taluka. This church
which is also known as St. Jerome's Church of Mapusa, which partially destroyed in fire in
1836 and was rebuilt in 1839 A.D.
Church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception, Panaji :
This church is renowned for its aesthetic staircase and is also
regarded with great respect by the faithful. This place was made a Parish church in 1600
A.D. before which a Chapel existed here in 1541 A.D. Pilgrimage is often started with this
as the first destination.
When to Visit :
The best time of the year to visit is between September and March.