Se Cathedral Panaji- Goa
About Se. Cathedral
Largest church in Asia, Se Cathedral is dedicated to
St. Catherine as it was on St. Catherine's day, November 25, that
Alfonso de Albuquerque, Portuguese Naval General conquered Goa. Along
came the first missionaries, the Dominicans sent by the Portuguese.
The original church erected was that of mud, stones and straw.
Subsequent modifications were made and a second church came up in
1515. Later the status of church was elevated to a cathedral and the
structure demolished to make way for the subsequent building. Viceroy
Dom Francisco Coutinho, Count of Redondo (1561-1564) was instructed by
the Portuguese government to build "a grandiose church worthy of
the wealth, power and fame of the Portuguese who dominated the seas
from the Atlantic to the pacific". The church was designed by
engineers Julio Simao and Ambrosio Arguero and it took almost
three-fourth of a century (1562-1619) to complete. No church in
Portugal today can beat Se Cathedral in terms of its size. This west
facing church is made in shape of a cross. Construction of body of
Cathedral was completed by 1619 and then the Blessed Sacrament was
placed on the altar on the feast day of the Guardian Angel amidst
Portuguese Gothic in style, the exterior of the building is Tuscan while the interior is Corinthian. The 98 ft high facade was flanked by two Manueline style square towers on the northern and southern side. However, the northern tower collapsed in 1776. The remaining tower has a 'Golden bell' referred so because of its rich sound. Earlier, relics of St. Francis Xavier were shown to public here. The largest church in Asia also has the prestige of being the seat of Archdiocese of Goa. The church is one of the most sacred buildings for the Christians and has been declared a heritage site by UNESCO.
Located opposite the Basilica de Bom Jesus, Se Cathedral is open seven days week 7:30 am to 6:30 pm except during mass.
Inside Se Cathedral
As you enter through the main entrance, a pediment
supported by Corinthian Columns on plinths stands. It contains an
inscription in Latin. It says that the 'cathedral was ordered under
the reign of King Dom Sebastiao in 1562, the Archbishops and the
primates being administrators and that the succeeding kings continued
the same at the cost of the Royal Treasury.' Inserted in the
Corinthian columns are two marble basins for holy water. Beneath the
choir is a large painting of St. Christopher.
The cathedral has fifteen altars and eight chapels. The grand altar being dedicated to St. Catherine of Alexandria. On either side of the altar stand images of St. Peter and St. Paul. Beautifying are engravings depicting Matyrdom of St. Catherine of Alexandria (307 A.D.). The altar has frames carved depicting scenes from the life of St. Catherine and a majestic crucifix. Close to the altar is placed the throne of Archbishop of Goa. In a gallery close to nave is placed an eighteenth century organ. To the right is a door leading to the barrel vault structured sacristy which has a model of St. Peter's church in Rome.
Inside the cathedral, which is 69 1/5 feet wide and 142
3/5 feet long, are placed four altars on each side. The inside of the
Cathedral being divided into a nave (72 feet) and two aisles (57 ½
feet). On the right in the order of placing are the Chapels of St.
Anthony, St. Bernard, Cruz Dos Milagres or the Miraculous Cross and
The Holy Ghost. It is said that a vision of Christ had emerged on the
Miraculous cross in 1919 and that the cross is growing in size. On the
left side are the chapels dedicated to Nossa Senhora de Necessidades,
St. Sebastian, the Blessed Sacrament and the last to Nossa Senhora de
Boa Vida. Among these, Chapels of Blessed Sacrament and The Miraculous
cross are noteworthy. They are adorned with some outstanding filigree
work (delicate and intricate ornamental work made from gold, silver,
or other fine twisted wire).
Further, in the interiors are placed six altars in the transverse part of the Cruciform of the church, three on either side of the main altar. To the right are those of St.Anna, Our Lady of Doloures and St.Peter and on left are those of Our Lady of Sorrows, Our lady of Three Necessities and Our Lady of Hope. The arches of four of these chapels are adorned with paintings depicting scenes from the life of saints.
The neighbouring convent is now an Archeological Museum for public viewing and behind the cathedral is the two storeyed Palace of Archbishop. However, this is not in use anymore.