Se-Cathedral Church in Goa
Last December, I was in Goa to attend a business conference. After attending the business conference, I decided to roam around in Old Goa and explore the ancient streets of Christianity.
While wandering through the region of Old Goa, I came across some of the magnificent churches of Goa which are highly revered by the native Christians. From time immemorial these churches of Goa played a pivotal role in the lives of Goan people, which can be easily witnessed in the tranquil countryside villages and towns of the state.
Old Goa is famed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and encompasses sixteen churches within its territory which are the reminiscent of the glorious days of "Golden Goa". When Portuguese had shifted their capital to Panjim in 1843, slowly Old Goa lost its charm. Today, most of the remaining buildings and churches are maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India. Archdiocese of Goa maintains the church services in this region.
During my childhood days, I read a lot about Basilica of Bom Jesus Church. So, in my last Goa trip, I first visited this church. This incredibly beautiful church is one of the most popular and sacred church of the state. While paying my homage to Jesus Christ, I got an opportunity to know its history from a "Father"(Priest in Church). He told me that this church was constructed in 1605 A.D and dedicated to Infant Jesus.
Basilica of Bom Jesus Church is counted among one of the famous UNESCO World Heritage Site as it houses the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier, Goa's Patron Saint. He had met his fatal end on December 2, 1552, during a sea voyage to China. It is believed that body of St. Francis Xavier was brought back almost one year after buried in China and kept preserved in a glass coffin inside a beautiful silver casket. I was stunned to see the body of Father Francis which is still remain fresh as ever.
Every year on 3rd December, thousands of devotees gathered at this church to mark the death anniversary of Father Francis. And this time I was lucky to participate in the mass prayer and feast. This beautiful church can be easily access from Panaji, as it just 9km away. I rented a motorbike from a local motor shop and roam around Goa's serene and unexplored places.
Other than Basilica of Bom Jesus, even I had explored Se Cathedral, which is famed as the largest church in Goa and reportedly in Asia. While cherishing the beauty of this church, I got a golden opportunity to know about its history from an elderly person. He told me that this church is dedicated to St. Catherine for it was on St. Catherine's day -Nov 25th that Alfonso de Albuquerque conquered Goa. Originally, this church was constructed on 1510 A.D with the help of materials like mud, stones and straw.
Later on, in the year 1510 it underwent modifications and a second church was created in 1515 A.D. Again after few years, Portuguese Viceroy, Dom Francisco Coutinho, the Count of Redondo commissioned to demolish the second church and to make way for a new church. The construction of final church took one complete century(1562 A.D - 1652 A.D). Its very hard to describe the beauty of this church in words. One has to visit Se Cathedral to appreciate its beauty. Apart from its architecture, this church is also famous for its Miraculous Cross. It is believed that with the passage of time, this cross has grown in size.
Due to lack of time, I couldn't explore other churches of Old Goa and returned to my home. So, if you want to behold the beauty of these beautiful churches, just pack your rucksacks and proceed towards Goa.
| By - Allen D'Souza
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