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The Church of St. Francis of Assisi
Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrThe Church of Saint Francis of Assisi is located in Old Goa, state of Goa, India. It is in the Terreiro de Sabao, the beautiful large compound in which is also the Se Cathedral and the erstwhile palace of the Archbishop of the East Indies. It is to the west of the Se Cathedral and the palace connects the two buildings. Attached to the church is a convent, which has been converted into a museum by the Archaeological Survey of India in 1964.
HistoryIn 1517, a group of Franciscan friars arrived in Goa and sought permission from the then Portuguese Governor to preach Christianity in Goa. Having got that, they proceeded to build a small chapel with three altars and a choir. In 1521, the monks enlarged the chapel into a church, which was consecrated in 1602 and was dedicated to the Holy Ghost. The church was razed in 1616 and another was built in its place while retaining only the gateway made of black stone.
Adjoining the church is a building which was once a convent. Originally, the Friars built a group of rooms as accommodation for themselves. Eventually in 1529, those rooms were converted into a convent. In 1835, the convent was closed by the Portuguese Government and in 1664, after the liberation of Goa; it was converted into a museum.
Architecture and ConstructionThe church faces west and is connected to the Se Cathedral by the palace of the previous Archbishop. Built with red laterite stones and plastered with lime, the façade is Tuscan with two octagonal towers on either side. The entrance, retained from the earlier structure is distinctly Manueline . In the niche on the façade is a statue of Our Lady of Miracles which was brought from Jaffna in Sri Lanka. Bearing the insignia of the Franciscans is a painted wooden statue of St. Francis on the pedestal.
As one enters the church there is a pulpit on the left, carved with beautiful floral patterns. There is a rib-vaulted nave without aisles. Three chapels on each side are separated by internal buttresses, decorated with floral frescoes. The buttresses also support a gallery. Impressive 17th-century paintings of the Italian school depict scenes from the Holy Bible.
Beneath the vault is the richly gilded altar with rich Baroque and Corinthian features. There is a tabernacle, used to display the Holy Sacrament, supported by statues of four evangelists, above which is the main altar with a belfry on the top. Large statues of St. Francis of Assisi and Christ on the Cross are placed on the altar. Below the statues are inscribed the vows of the Saint of poverty, humility and obedience. Large paintings on wood on either side of the altar depict the life of St. Francis of Assisi.
The Museum of the Archaeological Survey of IndiaAfter the convent was ordered to be closed by the Portuguese administration in 1835, the quarters were mainly used as accommodation. In 1964, the Archaeological Survey of India converted it into a museum. It was reorganized in 1982.
The museum has eight galleries, and displays antiquities and artifacts from the pre-historic period to the late medieval period. Pillars, wooden sculptures, capitals and postal stamps are exhibited along with 60 portraits of the Viceroys and Governors of the Portuguese era. Many objects belonging to the era, of both Portuguese and Indian origins, are displayed and give the visitor a good idea of the life in those times.
Armaments used by the Portuguese in Goa, Portraits of Vasco da Gama and Com Joa de Castro, a statue of Alfonso de Albuquerque, a bronze statue of St. Catherine of Alexandria, a model of Vasco da Gama’s São Gabriel , 10 centuries' old basalt statues of the Hindu deities, Surya and Lord Vishnu, and slabs with inscriptions in Persian and Marathi are some of the exhibits that a visitor will find interesting.
Getting ThereOld Goa is well connected with the capital city of Panjim as well as other cities by public transport. Taxis and auto-rickshaws are available. In Goa, motorcycle pilots operate as taxis and are most suitable and economical for someone travelling alone. Though accommodation is scarce in Old Goa, the city of Panjim, ten kilometers away has plenty of lodging and boarding facilities for all budgets.
Other Places of InterestOf the 60 churches supposed to have been there in Old Goa in the 18th-century, only seven are still standing along with a chapel. The Se Cathedral, the Basilica of Bom Jesus with St. Francis Xavier’s tomb in it, the Church of Our Lady of Rosary, St. Augustine’s Tower, the Church of St. Cajetan and the Chapel of St. Catherine are all places of interest and are of historical importance. Besides, there is plenty for a tourist to see in Goa, from the beaches on the coastline to the waterfalls in the higher reaches of the Western Ghats. Temples, some of them dating to the 11th-century, exhibit the architectural styles of different eras.
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Author: jackmartis. Last updated: Apr 06, 2015