Old Goa - Today

The Silhouette of the Tower of St. Augustine

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 College).

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 his pains."