Old Goa - Today
The Silhouette of the Tower of St.
The main altar has a gilt altarpiece with a 2.86 meter
high statue of St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the
Society of Jesus. Dressed in Mass vestments, he has
his right arm raised and his eyes turned towards heaven;
the sculptor represented the attitude of Ignatius at
the time when he exclaimed in ecstasy: Quam sordet mihi
tellus quum coelum aspicio (How doth the earth fill
me with disgust when I lift my eyes to heaven). Below
it, there is an image of Bom Jesus. On the top, there
is a sculpture the Holy Trinity and below it, the emblem
of the Society of Jesus.
The-side altars are dedicated to St. Michael and to
Our Lady of Hope. In the transept there are two vaulted
chapels on both the sides; the one on the left side
was formerly dedicated to St. Francis of Borgia Portugal's
patron saint and that of its colonies. The other is
dedicated to St. Francis Xavier. In 1622, the image
of St. Francis of Borgia was transferred to the side
altar and the Relics of St. Francis Xavier were kept
in its place. But in 1655', they were taken definitively
to the Chapel where we see them today; and the tabernacle
which was here, was transferred to the Chapel of St.
Francis of Borgia.
Since 1779, the cerimonia de posse (empowering ceremony)
of Vice-Roys and Governors took place in this Church.
The Bishop solemnly handed over the staff, to the Governor
who returned it only after the end of his term.
The walls on the way to the sacristy are decorated with
nine beautiful canvasses. The richly carved teak door
of the sacristy has the sculptures of four saints in
deep relief namely, Peter, Paul, Ignatius and Xavier.
This door has been elegantly decorated with foliage
designs. The sacristy has a vaulted roof with fine stucco
work. This sacristy which is the largest and the richest
in Goa has in its corners four colossal chests of drawers;
on the lateral sides there are still another four. They
are made of black wood with foliage and floral designs.
They have gilt labels indicating the contents.
At the further end of the sacristy, there is a Chapel
of Our Lady of Sorrows decorated with azulejos brought
from the sacristy of St. Francis of Assisi's Church
and from St. Augustine's. This sacristy was built at
the expense of Baltazar da Veiga from Lisbon. On October
21, 2004 the second floor of Casa Prof essa caught fire
around 12.30 midnight. The burnt area was repaired by
the Archdioces before the Exposition of November 2004.
CONVENTO DOS AGOSTINHOS E IGREJA
DA N .Sra. DA GRACA
(THE TOWER OF ST. AUGUSTINE)
This tower is the last relic of the famous Church of
Our Lady of Grace attached to the Convent of St. Augustine
on the Monte Santo (Holy Mount). Soon after their arrival
in 1572, the Augustini-ans built a modest Convent. Later
it was rebuilt. The foundation stone was laid on September
9, 1597, and the work was completed in 1602. Close to
this Convent there was a Church with the façade
looking towards the west; it was erected at the same
time as the Convent. It had an imposing frontispiece
with two five-storeyed towers with a pinnacled balustrade
on the top. Its façade has been reconstituted
by Prof. Mario Tavares Chico with the help of old photographs.
This Convent was famous for its library, the paintings,
the gilt woodwork and the azulejos. William Franklin
praised it more than all the others, in the XVlllth
century; "All the Churches in the city are magnificent;
but that of St. Augustine, due to its situation on the
top of a hill, due to the beauty of its interior decoration,
excels over all the others". On the southern side
of this Convent there was a Novitiate and opposite to
this building stood the famous Collegio de Populo (People's
When the religious Orders was suppressed in Goa in 1833,
59 friars left the Convent; but it was well preserved.
The Santa Casa de Misericordia was transferred to this
Convent in 1836; but they could not afford to live there
on account of its high maintenance cost. Consequently
this sumptuous edifice fell into neglect. The vault
of the Church collapsed in the morning of 8 September
1842, burying under its debris the colossal images of
St. Augustine and Our Lady of Grace. In the night of
August 8, 1931, the frontispiece fell down leaving only
one of its towers.
The Church had a big bell cast in Lisbon by João
Nicolau Levachi. At present it is to be found in the
Panjim Church. An interesting story is narrated about
this Church. "An Italian architect who was entrusted
with the construction of its vault, but his labours
were on both the occasions rendered fruitless by its
fall. Being reduced to despair, he rebuilt it the third
time, and to try its stability placed himself and his
only son directly under it and ordered a heavy cannon
to be fired near the building, choosing rather to loose
his life in the event of the vault falling through than
to undergo a fresh disappointment. Fortunately the vault
resisted the shock and he was satisfied as to the durability
of the work and received a suitable remuneration for