Old Goa - Today
IGREJA DE NOSSA SENHORA DO ROSARIO
(THE CHURCH OF OUR LADY OF ROSARY)
This is one of the first churches built by the Portuguese,
in 1542. This Church elicits admiration even today.
It belongs to the first period of Church building activities
in Goa. Its design is completely different from that
of the other Churches we see today. It has only one
tower and the characteristic cylindrical turrets for
its façade. Except for the portico of St. Francis
of Assisi's, the Rosario Church is the only religious
architecture specimen of Manueline style in Goa. This
Church which was built by the reinois (from Portugal),
has a ribbed vaulting in the chancel and in other parts
of the Church. The other Churches of this period were
demolished either because they were too small or because
their structure was very weak. The Rosario Portals,
writes Rafael Moreira, are pure copies of those from
the Graca in Evora, Portugal (1532) drawn by the famous
French sculptor Nicolas Chanterene, also replicated
in Infante D. Luis palace at Flor da Rosa (1534-35).
Goa's first Bishop was a personal friend of Chanterene.
It is situated on the hill called Monte Santo (Holy
mount) or Monte do Rosario, so called because it harboured
many religious buildings. Afonso de Albuquierque was
stationed here with a portion of his army when Antao
de Nogueira informed him about the victory against Adil
Shah on November 25, 1510. He himself requested that
this Church be built together with another one dedicated
to St. Anthony, patron saint of the military. This wish
was fulfilled by Governor Martim Afonso de Souza. In
1931, the Portuguese Archaeological Commission placed
a marble slab in the wall of the Church with the following
inscription: DESTE ALTO ASSISTIU / AFONSO DE ALBUQUERQUE
/ EM 25 - XI-1510 A / RECONQUISTA DE GOA. (From this
height Afonso de Albuquerque witnessed the reconquest
of Goa on 25.XI.1510.)
Ttii full was not inria until 1526 when Pedro Faria,
ex-Captain of Malacca, purchased it and built a house
for himself, assigning the remaining part for the building
of the Church of Rosario and of the Chapel of St. Anthony.
Later, the house of Pedro Faria was acquired by the
Jesuits and was transformed into a residence for the
professed members and afterwards into a Novitiate.
The Church was raised to the rank of Parochial Church
in 1543. It was later known as Priorado. But it was
downgraded in 1869, and affiliated, as a Chapel, to
the Se Cathedral The Church belonged to the Dominicans
and was one of the most populous parishes in the city.
It was held in great veneration, because according to
tradition it was here that St. Francis conducted catechism
class every evening and the people gathered at the sound
of his bell. But there is controversy about this. In
his letter dated 18th September, 1542, St. Francis Xavier
wrote that he taught catechism to the children, in a
Chapel of Our Lady near the Royal Hospital (me vuelvo
a una Hermita de Ia Santissima Virgem que esta muy cerca
de el Hospital: alii enseno). The Church of Our lady
of Rosario was built in 1543; and even supposing that
it had been built in 1542 as somebody suggested, it
does not seem to be the 'hermita' to which the Saint
refers because it was not close to the Hospital, whereas
the Chapel of Immaculate Conception was nearby; perhaps
it was here that St. Francis taught catechism.
The feast of Our Lady of Rosario was celebrated with
great pomp. The well known traveller, Pietro della Valle,
who was present on one occasion writes: "On the
evening of 30 September, the Dominican fathers organize
a procession together with the mem-bers of the Society
of Rosario with many chariots and statues dressed up
and jeweled according to the fashion of the epoch. All
the streets through which the procession passes are
decorated with evergreens and the windows with tapestry.
The whole population of the city flocks here to see
On the portico of the Church there is the following
inscription: ASSUNTA EST MARIA IN COELUM (Mary was assumed
into heaven). On the altar above the statue of Our Lady
of Rosario, there is an image of Our Lady of Sorrows.
Indian decorative motifs such as cashews, mangoes, flowers
are seen on the main altar.
The lateral Chapels have retables representing the Crucifixion
and Resurrection. The baptismal font is made up of a
single granite block.
An interesting feature of this Church is the alabaster
mausoleum, in Persian style, of Catarina a Piro located
in the wall of the chancel. It has the following epitaph:
AQVI IAZ DONA CATER-INA MOLHER DE / GARCIA DESA A OVAL
PEDE A OVEM ISTO LER/QVE PECA MISERICORDIA A DEOS PERA
SVA ALMA. (Here lies Dona Caterina, wife of Garcia de
Sá, who requests the readers of these lines to
beg God's mercy on her soul). Below, there is the sepulcher
of Garcia de Sá (+ 1549) who was Captain of Malacca,
and brought this lady of plebeian origin born in Miragaia
in Portugal and married her in articulo mortis (at the
time of death), when he was Governor. Tradition has
it that St. Francis Xavier administered the marriage
The bell of this Church has the following inscription:
ASSUNTA EST MARIA IN COELUM GAUDENT ANGELI LAUDANTES
I BENEDICUNT DOMINUM /(effigy of Our Lady) AVE MARIA
GRATIA PLENA / DOMINUS TECUM BENEDICTA TU IN I MULIERIBUS
ET BENEDICTUS FRUCTUS / VENTRIS TUI JESU SANCTA MARIA
/ PETRUS DIAS BOCARROS FECIT / 1618. (Mary was assumed
into heaven. The angels rejoice and bless the Lord in
praise. Hail Mary, full of grace! The Lord is with thee.
Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit
of your womb Jesus. Holy Mary. Peter Dias Bocarro made
the bell (in 1618).