Churches and Convents of Goa

Goa, famous for its golden beaches, is also known for its Catholic religious buildings all over India. Despite being the smallest state of India, it has lots of things to offer to its visitors. One of the main glories of Goa is its churches and convents. They are spread all around in Old Goa. Like Maharashtra’s Vasai Fort that showcases Portuguese heritage, the Portuguese style of art and architecture commemorate the past of Goa. Old Goa was the capital of the Portuguese Indies from 1565 and abandoned in 1760 because of a malaria outbreak.

Old Goa is now an archaeological site and its churches and convents come under the UNESCO World Heritage List. In this place, only few people live now, but it is hard to imagine that once there were two lakh inhabitants. Their religious buildings have survived in the form of churches and convents.

There are many churches and convents there, some of them are St. Catherine’s Chapel, Church and Convent of Francis of Assisi, Basilica of Bom Jesus, Church of Saint Cajetan, Church of Our Lady of the Rosary and St. Augustine Tower. Most of these Churches are plain, especially the interiors. Some of the above said churches have faded wall paintings and wooden carvings. All of them are of naïve style. Not only the architecture, the Portuguese influence can also be found in the delicious cuisines in Goa.

Only one or two cathedrals seem to be used for religious services while the others are just like a historical monument. The Basilica of Bom Jesus is a famous one. It holds the mortals remains of St. Francis Xavier, a missionary across Asia who died in 1552. He is noted as the patron saint of Goa.

Besides the Churches, there is a Viceroy’s Arch near the coast. This arch is a collapsing gate that was erected to commemorate the capture of the city by the Portuguese. A statue of Vasco da Gama is located on the top of the gate. Many people visit the Old Goa only to see the remains of Portuguese art and architecture.

Criterion (ii): The monuments of Goa, “Rome of the Orient”, exerted great influence from the 16th to the 18th century on the development of architecture, sculpture and painting by spreading forms of Manueline, Mannerist and Baroque art throughout the countries of Asia where Catholic missions were established.

Criterion (iv): The churches and convents of Goa are an outstanding example of an architectural ensemble which illustrates the work of missionaries in Asia.

Criterion (vi):  At the Church of Bom Jesus, Goa conserves Saint Francis-Xavier’s tomb. Beyond its fine artistic quality it was executed in Florence and includes admirable bronze work by Giovanni Battista Foggini, the tomb of the apostle of India and Japan symbolizes an event of universal significance of the influence of the Catholic religion in the Asian world in the modern period.



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