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"Se Cathedral, being the largest church in Asia, deserves a visit even if you are not usually inclined to religious sightseeing. Its architecture, from outside and inside have enough charm to gain an appreciative glance from you."
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Se Cathedral

Se Cathedral Panaji, Gao
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 great solemnities.

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.


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