Of the many Portuguese legacies that echo from every nook and lane
of Goa and its denizens, the legion of imposing, white-dyed Churches are
most vivid to the curious tourist. Catholics and Christians from across the
globe has Goa as one of their revered pilgrimage destinations.
A quote from a travel magazine was arresting and summed up the feature
If Goas conscience is compromised by the revelry on its
beaches, its redeemed by the millions of prayers offered up each year
for its mortal soul.
The major Churches
Lets begin from what is locally called Old Goa or Velha Goa.
Here was once the first Portugal colony and surprisingly a welcome one at
that because the white men resembled St Francis Xavier - a missionary who
lived, preached and died in Goa. The 401-year old St Franciss Tomb
at the Basilica of Bom Jesus
still has the remains of the saints
body. The walls about the casket have rare murals depicting the saint's
life. Do visit the art gallery flanking the Basilica. Its singular laterite
facade, the exquisite murals on the walls surrounding the casket and the
intricate carvings on the tomb by Florentine sculptor Giovanni Batista
Foggini has befittingly got it branded as a World Heritage Site.
Next on the hallowed list of Old Goa is the Convent and Church of St.
Francis of Assisi
, distinguishable for its paintwork, woodcarving and
floors inlaid with elaborately engraved tombstones depicting scenes from the
life of St. Francis. The convent at the back of this church is now the
Standing nearby is Se Cathedral
which is the largest Gothic church
in Goa with Tuscan exterior and Corinthian interior. In one chapel is kept
the Cross of Miracles, said to grow in size & have healing properties.
In the Capital, Panjim (Panaji), the lovely Mary of Immaculate
dazzles up with lights every evening. Another grand
colonial church is the Chapel of St Sebastian
The 17th century Portuguese Church of the Holy Spirit
resonating Baroque architecture is another must-visit.
The Church of our Lady of the Rosary
represents a fusion of European
and Indian elements; while the wall frescos reveal Hindu designs, those on
the alabaster tomb of Dona Catherina, wife of the first Portuguese woman to
hazard the long & arduous voyage to the Indies, demonstrate the impact
of the Muslim-Bijapur style.
Church and Convent of St. Monica
is a huge, three-storied laterite
building 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.
Easter Celebration in Panjim:
It is believed that Lord
Jesus, crucified on Good Friday, rose from his grave three days later on the
Easter Sunday. The Goans gather in the Church of Mary Immaculate Conception
to celebrate the Easter and the end of the month of Lent. The ceremony is
very similar to the Easter celebrations across the globe, just that the Goan
gaiety makes it somewhat more special. Distribution of sweets and
chocolates, stalls of local cuisine, Easter parties at every household make
it quiet a grand affair.
Goa of Believers
The power of Latin Catholicism is felt poignantly throughout Goa.
Over the years the Portuguese zeal for propagating their religion became
rigid & intolerant. Consequently temples were demolished & churches
built in their place. It was not until 18th century, when the conquerors
religious zeal had diminished, that Hindu temples began to be built