Church of Our Lady of Rosary Panaji- Goa
About the Church
Old Goa, 8 kilometres from Panaji is the spiritual back
bone of the state. The area is dotted with architectural masterpieces
in the form of churches and convents of the golden age. Old Goa has
actually been declared as a world heritage site by UNESCO. These
churches were built here after fifteenth century when it had become
Portuguese Colony. Many of these churches were built as thanksgiving
to victory in annexing Goa. One such church was the Church of Our Lady
of Rosary. This church marked the first victory of Portuguese in Goa.
Built in 1544, Church of Our Lady of Rosary is one of the oldest built churches in Goa. Situated atop the western side of the Monte Santo (Holy Hill), the church overlooks Mandovi river and Divar Island. The road going slightly uphill south of the Basilica de Bom Jesus will take you to the church of Our Lady of Rosary. A plaque placed in the church gives its brief history. Afonso de Albuquerque (the first Portuguese Admiral who came to Goa), vowed to make this church as thanksgiving at Holy hill, as he saw standing from there his troops defeating Adil Shah, Sultan of Bijaipur in 1510. However, the church was not built during his life time. Starting in 1544, the church took six years to complete. It's status was raised to that of a church in1543. Francisians were given the authority of this church then. It was here that St. Francis Xavier taught Catechism (basic principles of Christianity in question-and-answer form) in the evenings. He use to ring a bell and people would come there. The people of Goa have special reverence for the church due to this special connection with St. Francis Xavier. Every year, on November there is the feast day of the church. The day is marked with fetes, music bands, dances, mimicry and fashion shows.
Simple in its design, the church is an excellent example of Manueline style architecture of the early Portuguese. With windows near the roof and rounded towers, the church looks more like a fortress. The church built of laterite and plastered with line mortar has a two storeyed portico. The facade and the portico have rounded towers on either sides with cross on the top. Gothic influence is visible in the rib of the portico. The roof is tiled, supported by wooden rafters. The church is open seven days from 9 am to 5:30 pm.
Inside the church
The church is cruciform in plan with a square apse. The choir gallery is just above the entrance. The church has two chapels and three altars, the main altar being dedicated to Our Lady of Rosary. Hindu influence is visible in the decoration of the church. The main altar has motifs of cashews, mangoes and flowers. To the right of the main altar is the cenotaph of Dona Catarina whose marriage to Viceroy Garicia De Sa was performed by St. Francis Xavier. The decorations, the foliage emanating from the vase resemble closely to Gujarat temples. The cenotaph is slightly projecting from the wall. It is decorated with carved miniature pillars and inscriptions in Portuguese. The triangular pediment is crowned by a shell moulding.