Church of St. Francis of Assisi Panaji- Goa
About the convent and church
Just like Se Cathedral, facing west stands Church and
Convent of St. Francis of Assisi built in 1521. The church joins Se
Cathedral at the convent. The church and convent were built by
Franciscan friars, the first group that came to Goa in 1517. Back then
it was a chapel. Later, it was modified into a church in 1521 and
consecrated to the Holy Spirit on 2nd August, 1602. The church was
rebuilt in 1661, but the black stone gate finely carved was retained.
The convent reconstructed in 1529 was initially a group of cells built
by Friars in the garden for residence purpose.
The Government of Portugal closed the convent in 1835. Later in 1964, a museum was set up in the convent and today, it houses a number of artifacts, paintings and sculptors. The double storeyed structure, 230 feet long and 108 ft wide was the residence of Archbishop till 1695, when they moved to Panelim.
The church built of laterite is lime plastered. The doorway is Manueline style and the facade is flanked by octagonal towers on either side. A recess in the wall holds the statue of Our lady of Miracles (transported from Jaffna in Sri Lanka). On the pedestal bearing the sign of Fransiscans stands a wooden statue of St. Francis. The church is open for the public from 7:30 am to 6:30 pm except on Sundays and the museum is open 9 am to 12:30 pm and 3 pm to 6:30 pm.
Inside the church
The interiors are Mosaic Corinthian in style, the arch
ribbed, the walls are illustrated with scenes from Bible and vault
ribbed. The church has a main altar and two other on either side in
the transept, a nave with three chapels on its either side and a choir
on first floor. The choir has, in between carved wooden panels, a
portrait of Fransiscian hagiology (literature related to their lives).
The church has a belfry and a sacristy towards the north of the main
altar. A wooden pulpit exquisitely carved with floral patterns on the
left welcomes sight as you enter. Buttress walls are adorned with
frescoes depicting sophisticated floral designs. These walls inside
the structure separate the three chapels and support a gallery above.
The main altar dedicated to St. Francis is heavily ornated, the style is Baroque with Corinthian touch. Also on the altar is an equally large statue of Christ on the cross, underneath are mentioned the three vows of the saint - poverty, humility and obedience. On both sides of the nave are beautiful paintings made on wood illustrating instances of his birth, his first anointment, taking oath and joining the Dominican and other such important instances marking the life of St. Francis. Beneath the main altar is a tabernacle supported by four evangelists. This tabernacle was earlier used for exhibiting the holy sacrament.
Inside the convent
The convent was turned into an Archaeological Museum for public in 1964. The museum has a rich collection of paintings, artefacts, statues etc. On display are eclectic collection comprising sixty portraits of Portuguese viceroys and governors of Goa. There are statues of Afonso de Albuquerque, Vasco da Gama and St.Catherine (in bronze) from the Viceroy of Arch. Some Hindu deities are also there like Lord Vishnu and a standing statue of Lord Surya (the sun god).