Old Goa - Today

It may be noted with great regret that at present only the façade of the Church, in Doric style remains. In 1827, both the College and the Church were in a dilapidated state and a small part of the college could be seen. Regarding the Church, the façade (which has still withstood the vagaries of time and men), the sidewalls, the choir cloister, staircase and arches could be seen among palm trees and shrubs. Abbe Cottineau writes that "nous avons penetre avec ditticulte dans le jardin tout rempli de cocotuers et d'antres arbes et dont le terrain est couvert d'arbustes et herbes, Ia retraite des serpents." In 1829, the Government demolished all the standing portions except for the façade and the material was transported to Panjim to be utilized for new constructions.

In 1541, two secular priests viz. Diogo de Borba and Minguel Vaz established the "Santa Fe" confraternity and they set up a College for the new converts from the East. The building work of the church & college which began on November 10, 1541, was completed on January 25, 1543, feast of Conversion of St. Paul to whom the Church was dedicated.

When the construction was progressing, Fr. Francis Xavier arrived in Goa and selected for his residence the Hospital Real (Royal Hospital). When Fr. Borba died in 1548, the institution was handed over to Xavier who accepted it in the name of Society of Jesus, after completing the legal formalities. The central and local governments supported it with rich endowments. With this backing, the old College edifice was demolished and the two distinct buildings were erected one for the students and the other for the residence of the Jesuits. Both of them were connected with a passage. The former was named as Seminario de Santa Fe and the other as Collegio de S. Paulo.

In 1556, the doors of the college were opened even to those who were interested in secular studies through an ordinance issued by King D. João III. In 1568 the faculty consisted of 88 Jesuits and three thousand students from India and other parts of the East. The Jesuits had been empowered with the faculty of conferring the Masters degree (mestre em artes) and even the Ph.D.degree (doutor).

Besides the Seminary of Santa Fe, the following institutions were attached to the College: a novitiate, a professed house, a hospital and a house for the newly converts.

The College had a large library and the first printing press in Asia was set up in this College, through which came the first printed publications.

In 1560, the Church was demolished on account of its weak condition and the foundation stone for a larger Church with three naves was laid on 25th" January, 1560. It was twenty years later that one of the walls developed cracks and three arches of magnificent dimensions covering the existing road were built as support under the supervision of Jesuit João de Faria. As such it was popularly known as S. Paulo dos Arcos (St. Paul of Arches).

It was for the first time that Santos Passos (dramatic representation of Passion of Christ) were introduced in Asia in this institution. The penitential procession was characterized by public self-flogging. There were also booths erected in different places to provide first aid. The tradition of spreading or throwing flowers on the occasion of the feast of Our Lady of Mount originated here. Above all, the greatest honour that this institution received was the presence of Francis Xavier whenever he was in Goa and the first public exposition of his incorrupt body after his death. The martyrs of Cuncolim were also buried here.

In 1570, there was an epidemic and the Jesuits acquired some houses belonging to Pedro de Faria on the hill of Nossa Senhora do Rosario in 1578, for the residence of the convalescents. The complex was named as Colegio de S. Roque (1580). All the departments of studies from College of S. Paul were transferred to College of S. Roque which was also known as College of S. Paulo 0 Novo (St. Paul, the New).

The construction of a new building in this place met with a stiff opposition of Augustinians and nuns from Sta. Monica. The Jesuits had some other enemies too, who set fire to the building four times between 1591 and 1675. Once, the Rector of the College D. Jeronimo Xavier, a relation of Francis Xavier was the victim of these flames. There was a surplice of Francis Xavier deposited in a silver box in this College which was later taken to Basilica of Bom Jesus.

The printing press from the old College was also transferred to College of St. Paul the New and the third edition of Purana of Fr. Thomas Stephen was printed here, in 1654.

The Hospital Real functioned here from 1760 to 1764 after the closure of the College. Today, there is nothing left for the visitor to admire, not even the stones.