One of the most ancient and celebrated religious buildings of Goa, this magnificent 16th century monument, constructed by the Roman Catholics under the Portuguese rule, is the largest church in Asia. The Cathedral is dedicated to St. Catherine of Alexandria on whose feast day in 1510 Alfonso Albuquerque defeated the Muslim army and took possession of the city of Goa. Hence it is also known as St. Catherine’s’ Cathedral and is bigger than any of the churches in Portugal itself.
The Cathedral was commissioned by the Portuguese Viceroy, Redondo to be “a grandiose church worthy of the wealth, power and fame of the Portuguese who dominated the seas from the Atlantic to the Pacific”. The construction of this imposing edifice began in 1562 during the reign of King Dom Sebastião (1557-78) and substantially completed by 1619. It was consecrated in 1640.
The church is 250 ft in length and 181 ft in breath. The frontispiece stands 115 ft high. The building is Portuguese-Gothic in style with a Tuscan exterior and Corinthian interior. The exterior of the cathedral is notable for its plainness of style whereas, its vaulted interior overwhelms the visitors by sheer grandeur.
Cathedral’s tower houses a famous bell, the largest in Goa and one of the best in the world, often referred to as ‘Golden Bell’ on account of its rich tone. The main altar is dedicated to St. Catherine of Alexandria, and old paintings on either side of it depict scenes from her life and martyrdom.
On the right of the nave, is the screened Chapel of the Cross of Miracles. A vision of Christ is said to have appeared in 1919 on this huge, plain, cross. Towering above the main altar is the huge gilded reredos. Scenes from the life of St. Catherine, to whom the cathedral is dedicated, are carved on its six main panels. A chamber on the left contains the baptismal font made in 1532. St. Francis Xavier is said to have baptized thousands of Goan converts using this font.
Visited by millions from all over the world, the church is regarded as a pilgrimage by people of all religions. It is the most indispensable tourist attraction in Goa and a trip to Goa is considered to be incomplete without paying a visit to Sé Cathedral.
About Se Cathedral Church
Also called St. Catherine’s Cathedral this 16th-century masterpiece took 80 long years to finish and is one of the largest churches in the world. The Cathedral attains to the west of the great square called Terreiro de Sabato and has its face turned to the east. A flight of steps approaches its beautiful courtyard. It was consecrated in 1640 and was built to honour the triumph of the Portuguese over the Muslim rulers of the city.
Owing to such a magnificent aura and the glory, Se Cathedral has been stated as a world heritage site by UNESCO. It is known as the largest church in Asia, and also has a giant bell and its elegant architecture makes it a majestic white beauty. Se Cathedral also endures the honour of being the seat of the Archdiocese of Goa. Se Cathedral is home to the historic “Golden Bell” which is famous around the world as it is the largest bell with a rich sound.
When you will visit the church now you will be amused to witness the amazing construction techniques and designs used while building the church. The intricate work on wood in the interiors of the church add to its beauty as it the wonderful work of art. This place is a combination of peace and beauty, visiting this place will not only rejuvenate you but will also fill you up with positivity.
Legend of Saint Catherine of Se Cathedral
Catherine was a lady who was considered as a Christian Saint according to tradition, and was martyred in the early 4th century at the hands of the pagan Emperor Maxentius. It is believed that she was both a princess and a noted scholar, who became a Christian at around the age of 14 and also converted hundreds of people to Christianity, and was martyred around the age of 18.
Catherine was known to be a spiritual pathfinder and raise her voice against the oppression of the Christians under the rule of Roman emperor Maxentius. She was so strong and logical with her arguments that the king himself was incapable of countering them and has a then he formed a committee of 50 philosophers to debate her ideas.
However, even the assembly conceded defeat in front of her and confessed Christianity as their belief. Out of anger, the king burnt the philosophers alive and sentenced st.catherine to prison. Catherine did not give up, and she was succeeded in converting not only the jailers but also the king’s wife. It is believed that she showed the path of Christianity to 200 people. Even when she was facing the worse condition of her life, she continued to stretch the word of Jesus.
She was honoured with the title of”patroness of the wheel-wrights” because it is believed then when she was fastened to a spiked wheel as it was mentioned in her death sentence the wheel broke and she was left uninjured. And when she was finally beheaded, it is said that angle took her remains and laid them to rest atop Mount Sinai.
When you visit the Se Cathedral, you can witness the Saint Catherine ornaments, a crown portraying her royal birth and has a book in her hands, which signifies her sound knowledge as she points a spiked wheel, which reveals her martyrdom.
Se Cathedral History
The Cathedral is devoted to St. Catherine of Alexandria, it is said that it was built to celebrate the victory of the Portuguese ruler Alfonso Albuquerque who destroyed the Muslim army and took ownership of the city of Goa. Consequently, it is also called St. Catherine’s’ Cathedral. In 1953, the Cathedral was presented with “The Golden Rose” by Venerable Pope Pius XII. It is a gold ornament, which the Popes of the Catholic Church have traditionally favoured and given as a symbol of devotion or affection.
You can witness it as it is placed on the tomb of St. Francis Xavier. It was approved by Governor George Cabral to be spread in 1552 on the remains of an earlier structure. The formation of the church began in 1562. The church was completed in 1619 and was consecrated in 1640. It is a perfect place to experience a blend of peace and tranquillity. You will be filled with positivity when you will visit this sacred place.
The architecture of Se Cathedral
The architecture of Se Cathedral is awe-inspiring and elegant. The architectural style is a blend of Gothic elements and typical Portuguese style, or you can say that the architecture style of the Se Cathedral is Portuguese-Manueline. There were two different techniques that were opted to make the church. The exterior was made in Tuscan style and the interior has been built in and Corinthian style. With dimensions of 250 feet long and 181 feet wide, this church has a delightfully decorated entrance that measures around 115 feet in height.
The church is amazingly decorated, yet the style is intriguing and simple. The Cathedral has been built on an elevated base of laterite, which is covered with the thick lime plaster.You can also see the bell tower which is located on the southern side of the façade. The building of the church is rectangular on the plan but has a cruciform layout in the interior. The main altar is devoted to Catherine of Alexandria, and you can also see several old paintings on either side of it. You can also see the Chapel, which is known as the Cross of Miracles, it is believed that there was an image of Christ that was said to have appeared in 1619.
How to Reach Se Cathedral Church
Se Cathedral is one of the gems of Goa and should be in the section of “must-visit” on your list. It is easy to reach this beautiful place which is located in the old Goa.
– From Panji: If you are willing to visit the Se Cathedral church from Panji you can easily choose public transport like buses or private transport like taxi. The total distance of Se Cathedral church from Panjim Kadamba Bus Stand is 9 km.
– From Goa International Airport: The total distance from the airport to the Se Cathedral church is 28.2 km and you can take the help of public or private transport which is easily available there.
Best Time to Visit Se Cathedral Church
There is no specific season to visit this peaceful place, but yes, you can be wise to choose months between November to March as it is said to be the best duration for visiting Goa. During this period you will be accompanied by beautiful weather, which will add to your enjoyment and you will be exploring the place it without facing any problem.
During the day, the best time to visit Se Cathedral is close to the opening hours so that you can avoid the long queue or the crowd. You can avoid coming during the afternoon hours so that you don’t get to face scorching heat, and you get to know the place thoroughly.