Further to our exploration of magnificent churches of Goa that are still standing since Portuguese rule over Goa, I bring to you more of those beautiful architectures.
St. Francis of Assisi
This church was built in 1661. The three tier facade has octogonal tower on each side and in the central niche, there is a statue of St. Michael. The main entrance is decorated with circular pilasters and rosette band. In a niche on the facade, stands a statue of our lady of miracles brought from Jaffna in Sri Lanka. The internal buttress walls separating the chapels and supporting the gallery on top have frescoes showing floral designs.
Above the tabernacle in the main altar is a large statue of St. Francis of Assisi and Jesus on the cross. Statues of St. Peter and St. Paul are seen below the adjoining walls of nave retain painted panels depicting scenes from the life of St. Francis of Assisi.
One of the most ancient and celebrated religious buildings of Goa, this magnificent 16th century monument to the Roman Catholic rule in Goa under the Portuguese is the largest church in Asia. This cathedral was built in the first quarter of seventeenth century AD. The structure is oblong on plan but the interior has a cruciform, whereas the exterior is Tuscan (plain ornamentation). A belfry on the southern side of the facade is said to possess golden bell which was heard all over Goa. The church has besides the main altar, eight chapels.
The main altar is dedicated to St. Catherine. The richly gilded panel shows the martyrdom of the saint. On either side of the nave, there are wooden statues of St. Paul and St. Peter. Besides a large painting of St. Christopher hung beneath the choir, there are several painted and gilded episodes over walls which draw attention.
Church of St. Augustine & its tower
One of the most spectacular of all monuments in Goa, reproduced on innumerable travel brochures and advertisements is the St Augustine tower in Old Goa. This highly visible landmark, a 46m-high tower served as a belfry and formed part of the facade of a magnificent Church. Out of the more than twenty fabulous churches which once existed in the old city of Velha Goa, only ten remain today. And of these four are actually chapels. The churches were located on and between seven hills around the Velha Goa region. When it was completed in the 16th century, the grand Nossa Senhora da Graca Church was recognized as one of the three great Augustinian churches in the Iberian world.
The church was abandoned in 1835 due to the repressive policies of the Portuguese government, which resulted in the eviction of many religious orders from Goa. The church fell into neglect and the vault collapsed in 1842.
The church’s demise began with the collapse of this vault. The body of the church was soon destroyed, but the facade remained intact. The tower’s huge bell was moved in 1871 to the Church of our Lady of the Immaculate Conception in Panjim, where it remains and can be seen and heard today. In 1931, the facade and half the tower fell down, followed by more sections in 1938 leaving only half the tower that is seen and visited by thousands of tourists today. This remnant, the renowned St. Augustine’s tower is all that remains of what was once one of the largest buildings in Goa — The Augustinian Monastery.
The Church Of Our Lady Of The Rosary
Not far to the west of the Basilica of the Bom Jesus is the Holy Hill at the extremity of which is the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary. Built of laterite and plastered with lime mortar, it has a two-storeyed portico. The portico as well as the facade of the church has rounded towers on either side with the cross on top. The roof of the church is tiled, supported by wooden rafters.
There are two chapels and three altars. The main altar is dedicated to our Lady of the Rosary. The church, with windows near the roof and with rounded towers giving an impression of a fortress church, is manuline in style though Gothic influence can be seen in the rib-vault at the portico.
This votive chapel was built in fulfillment of a vow taken by Afonso de Albuquerque while reviewing the battle between his forces and those of the Bijapur sultan from the same spot, on which the church stands. The vow, however, could be fulfilled only after his death, since this church was built in 1544-49.