There are a number of churches in Goa built by the Portuguese. Many magnificent churches were built by them in Old Goa which is well known for its churches. The Old Goa churches remind of its former glory that once rivaled that of Rome. It was known to the world as 'Golden Goa' or 'Pearl of the Orient' in 16th and 17th centuries in its glory days. Some of the churches at Old Goa are:-
Se Cathedral Church in Goa
The Portuguese Viceroy Redondo commissioned the Se, or St. Catherine's' Cathedral, southwest of St. Cajetan's, to be "a grandiose church worthy of the wealth, power and fame of the Portuguese who dominated the seas from the Atlantic to the Pacific". Today it stands larger than any church in Portugal, although it was beset by problems, not least a lack of funds and Portugal's temporary loss of independence to Spain. It took eighty years to build and was not consecrated until 1640.
Church of St. Francis of Assisi Goa
Church of St. Francis of Assisi, Old Goa: Adjacent to the Cathedral is this church. Built in the 17th Century, a beautiful octagonal tabernacle ornately decorated has two statues, one of St Francis of Assisi and the other of Jesus on the cross. Vows of poverty, humility and obedience of St. Francis of Assisi are scripted right below these two statues.
Chapel Of St. Catherine, Old Goa
Chapel Of St.Catherine situated in Old Goa is dedicated to St. Catherine. It stands as a living monument of the conquest of Goa by Alburquerque. At one enters the chapel you will see a statue of Our Lady. There is also a beautiful altar dedicated to St. Catherine upon which stands another statue of Our Lady Of Peity.
Basilica Of BomJesus, Old Goa
The Basilica of Bom Jesus is the most august and famous of all the churches in Old Goa. It contains the relics of St. Francis Xavier, Patron saint of Goa, Apostle of the Indies. He was known as Goencho Saib by most of the people of Goa. The construction of the church began on the 24th November 1594 AD from the funds bequeathed for this purpose by Dom Jeronimos Mascarenhas. It was blessed by the Archbishop Dom Fr Aleixo de Menezes on the15th May1605 AD. It became the first church in India to be elevated to the status of a minor basilica in 1946.
The three storey structure is combination of Doric, Corinthian and Composite style of architecture from the exterior. It is built of black laterite stone. The façade is divided into four parts. The lowest part contains three graceful entrances. The part above it has three large windows corresponding to the three entrances. The third section has three circular windows and the fourth part forms a quadrangle decorated lavishly with arabesque. All the sections are decorated with pillars and carvings on basalt brought from Bassein in north Goa. The interior of church is made of Mosaic-Corinthian style and is noteworthy for its simplicity. Three rows of windows are rising one over another from each side besides those of the choir and corresponding circular ones. The windows in the second row have a protruding balcony skillfully attached to them. The entrance is beneath the choir and is supported by columns. The body of the Basilica is spacious.
The relics of St Francis Xavier were kept in this chapel from 1623-55 AD. The Blessed Sacrament was earlier kept on the main altar under the statue of St Ignatius and now is preserved in a gold tabernacle. A cenotaph of gilded bronze to Dom Jeronimos Mascarenhas, Captain of Cochin and Ormuz and the benefactor of the church, is on the northern wall near the side wall. The church is dedicated to the Infant Jesus and is exquisitely decorated. The infant Jesus is shown under the protection of St Ignatius of Loyola, the Founder of the Society of Jesus. The statue of St Ignatius is almost 3 m high. The side have altar to Our Lady of Mercy and St Michael. The Liturgical altar was set up by assembling the old discarded altars and was inaugurated on 12th March 1965. The chapel and tomb of St Francis Xavier is to the south of the church. The body of St. Francis Xavier was brought here from the College of St Paul after his canonization in 1624 AD. It was shifted to its present location in 1655 AD. The chapel has three doors on the east, west and south. A huge picture of the saint is hung on the last door. The chapel is decorated with 27 pictures representing the life and miracles of the saint.
The mausoleum is a three-tiered bier built by the Duke of Tuscany (1670-1737 AD) in return for the pillow on which the head of St. Francis Xavier rested for many years after his death. Giovanni Batista Foggini from Florentine designed the structure and was completed in1698 AD. It arrived at Goa on 16th September 1698 from Florence, Italy and was erected between 14th October and 9th November 1698. On the top of the bier lies the Silver Casket, which contains the relics of the saint.
The casket was constructed by Gaon silversmiths under the supervision of Fr Marco Mastrilli S.J. it is also known as Mastrillian casket. The money for its construction came from the donation in Goa and elsewhere. It was completed on 2nd December 1637 on the feast of the Saint. It was crowned by a cross standing on a pedestal with the figures of two angels on both the sides, one near the head holding a heart with a halo and the other near his feat bearing the motto "Satis est, Domine, Satis est" meaning "It is enough, O Lord, it is enough!". It is believed to be the most common utterances of the saint. The plates on the sides of the casket have been removed to make the relics visible through the inner glass/ crystal urn into which the relics were placed in 1955.
The crystal urn was ordered after the exposition of D. Jose Costa Nunes, Patriarch of Goa in 1952, it was decided that the sacred relics should not be touched directly anymore. The crystal urn was made in the Casa Brandizzi at Rome and was brought to Goa on January 30th 1955. The relics were placed in the crystal urn first and then into the silver casket on February 13th 1955 and sealed. The old wooden coffin with its three keys is now kept in the museum at the Professed House of the Jesuits.
St. Cajetan Church, Old Goa
St.Cajetan Church situated in Old Goa. Equally amazing is the high vault on which are inscribed the words of Christ "My House Is A House Of The Words Of Christ".
The church has alters to dedicated to the Holy Family, Our Lady Of Piety and St.Clare and to the right are the altars dedicated to St. Agnes, St. Cajetan and St. John.
St. Augustine Church
The Built in 1602, the only ruin of the Church of St. Augustine on the Holy Hill at Old Goa near the Nunnery, is a lofty 46-metre high tower defying the torrential rains. The tower is one of the four of St. Augustine Church that once stood there. There were eight richly adorned chapels and four altars, and a convent with numerous cells and artistic columns attached to the church.
The Church when intact was perhaps the biggest in Goa. With the religious suppression in 1835, the Augustinians deserted the church and the convent. The latter was used for some time by the charitable institution of the Misericordia. The buildings fell into neglect resulting in the collapse of the vault on 8 September 1842. The Government appropriated the property selling the materials the following year. The façade and half of the tower fell in 1931 and some more parts of it collapsed in 1938.