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Archdiocese of Goa

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Patriarchate of the East Indies, the chief see of the Portuguese dominions in the East; metropolitan to the present province of Goa, which comprises as suffragans the sees of Cochin, Mylapore, and Damão (or Damaun) in India, Macao in China, and Mozambique in East Africa. The archbishop, who resides at Panjim, or New Goa, has the honorary titles of Primate of the East and (from 1886) Patriarch of the East Indies. He enjoys the privilege of presiding over all national councils of the East Indies, which must originally be held at Goa (Concordat of 1886 between the Holy See and Portugal, art. 2). The Patronage of the see and of its suffragans belongs to the Crown of Portugal.


The history of the Portuguese conquests in India dates from the arrival of Vasco da Gama in 1498, followed by the acquisition of Cranganore in 1500, Cochin in 1506, Goa in 1510, Chaul in 1512, Calicut in 1513, Damao in 1531, Bombay, Salsette, and Bassein in 1534, Diu in 1535, etc. From the year 1500, missionaries of the different orders (Franciscans, Dominicans, Jesuits, Augustinians, etc.) flocked out with the conquerors, and began at once to build churches along the coast districts wherever the Portuguese power made itself felt. In 1534 was created an episcopal see suffragan to Funchal in the Madeiras, with a jurisdiction extending potentially over all past and future conquests from the Cape of Good Hope to China in 1557 it was made an independent archbishopric, and its first suffragan sees were erected at Cochin and Malacca. In 1576 the suffragan See of Macao (China) was added; and in 1588, that of Funai in Japan. In 1600 another suffragan see was erected at Angamale (transferred to Craganore in 1605) for the sake of the newly-united Thomas Christians ( see under EASTERN CHURCHES, Malabar Christians and Uniat Church of Malabar ); while, in 1606 a sixth suffragan see was established at San Thome, Mylapore, near the modern Madras. In 1612 the prelacy of Mozambique was added, and in 1690 two other sees at Peking and Nanking in China. By the Bulls establishing these sees the right of nomination was conferred in perpetuity on the King of Portugal, under the titles of foundation and endowment.

The limits between the various sees of India were defined by a papal Bull in 1616. The suffragan sees comprised roughly the south of the peninsula and the east coast, as far as Burma inclusive, the rest of India remaining potentially under the jurisdiction of the archdiocese and this potential jurisdiction was the actually exercised even outside Portuguese dominions wherever the Faith was extended by Portuguese missionaries. Missionary work progressed on a large scale and with great success along the western coasts, chiefly at Chaul, Bombay, Salsette, Bassein, Damao, and Diu; and on the eastern coasts at San Thome of Mylapore, and as far as Bengal etc. In the southern districts the Jesuit mission in Madura was the most famous. It extended to the Kistna river, with a number of outlaying stations beyond it. The mission of Cochin, on the Malabar Coast, was also one of the most fruitful. Several missions were also established in the interior northwardds, e.g., that of Agra and Lahore in 1570 and that of Tibet in 1624. Still, even with these efforts, the greater part even of the coast line was by no means fully worked, and many vast tracts of the interior northwards were practically untouched.

The decline of Portuguese power in the seventheenth century, followed as it was by a decline in the supply of missionaries, etc., soon put limits to the extension of missionary work; and it was sometimes with difficulty that the results actually achieved could be kept up. Consequently, about this time the Holy See began, through the Congregation of Propaganda to send out missionaries independently of Portugal --appointing vicars Apostolic over several districts (The Great Mogul, 1637; Verapoly, 1657; Burma, 1722; Karnatic and Madura, after the suppression of the Jesuits in 1773; Tibet, 1826; Bengal, Madras, and Ceylon, 1834, and others later). In certain places where these vicars Apostolic came into contact with the Portuguese clergy, there arose a conflict of jurisdiction. This was particularly the case in Bombay, which had been ceded to the British in 1661. Here the Portuguese clergy were at first allowed to remain in charge of the churches, but in 1720, on the ground that they caused disaffection among the people against the British power, they were expelled from the island, and the Vicar of the Great Mogul, with his Carmelite missionaries, was invited to take their place. The Holy See, in authorizing this arrangement, did not deny or abrogate the ordinary jurisdiction of the Archbishop of Goa, but merely intended to make a temporary provision till such time as the British Government should allow the Portuguese clergy to return. (See BOMBAY, ARCHDIOCESE OF). Efforts were made from time to time on the part of the Goan party to recover their place, and this ultimately, through a division of the churches in 1794, gave rise to the existence of two rival jurisdictions in Bombay -- Padroado and Propaganda . The Holy See had for a long time been dissatisfied with the general situation, and especially with the opposition shown to the vicars Apostolic by the Goan prelates and clergy. After the revolution of 1834 in Portugal, the expulsion or abolition of the religious orders, and the severing of diplomatic relations with the Vatican came the famous Brief "Multa praeclare" on 24 April, 1838 provisionally withdrawing jurisdiction from the three suffragan sees of Cochin, cranganore, and Mylapore, and assigning their territories to the nearest vicars Apostolic --at the same time implicitly, or at least by subsequent interpretation and enactments, restricting the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of Goa to actual Portuguese territory. This Brief was, however, rejected by the Goan party as spurious or at least surreptitious, since they contended that even the Holy See could not rightly legislate in this manner without the consent of the King of Portugal, as was declared in the original Bulls of foundation, etc. The principles underlying this dispute fall outside the scope of the present article, which is concerned solely with the main historical facts. The resistance which followed, both in Bombay and in other parts of India has uniformly been called the "Goan or Indo-Portuguese Schism " by writers outside the Padroado party; and the term schism occurs frequently in the pronouncements of the Holy See ; but the Padroadists themselves have always resented this title on the ground that the fault lay with the Holy See misinformed by the vicars Apostolic , and that they were only contending for their canonical and natural rights, etc. In 1857 a concordat was entered into which gave peace for a time, but a final settlement was not arrived at till 1886, when a further concordat was drawn up, and a Bull ("Humanae Salutatis Auctor", 1 Sept., 1886) issued, by which the suspended jurisdiction of Cochin and Mylapore was restored, and a third suffragan diocese (that of Damão) added -- all in British territory; and after subsequrent adjustments the present delimitations were agreed to. At the same time the Indian hierarchy was established, and the whole of the country divided into provinces, dioceses, and prefectures Apostolic.

In the following List of Prelates of the See of Goa , dates still under dispute are given in parentheses:

  • João Affonso d'Albuquerque, 1538-1553;
  • Gaspar de Leão Pereira, 1560-1567, and again 1574-1576;
  • Henrique de Tavora, transferred from Cochin, 1578-1581;
  • João Vicente da Fonseca, 1580-1586 (1581-1587);
  • Matheus de Medina, transferred from Cochin, 1588-1592;
  • Aleixo de Menezes, 1595-1610 (1612);
  • Christovam de Sá e Lisboa, from the Bishopric of Malacca (1610) 1616-1622;
  • Sebastião de S. Pedro, from the Bishopric of Mylapore (1623) 1625-1629;
  • Manoel Telles de Brito, 1631 (died on voyage);
  • Francisco dos Martyres,1666-1652, Christovão da Silveira, 1671 or 1672 (died on voyage);
  • Antonio de Brandão, 1675-1678;
  • Manoel de Sousa e Menezes, 1681-1684;
  • Alberto de silva, 1687-1688;
  • Pedro de Silva, from the Bishohic of Cochin, 1689-1691;
  • Agostino da Annuciacão, 1691-1713;
  • Sebastião d'Andrado Pessanha, 1716-1721;
  • Ignacio de Santa Thereza, 1721-1739;
  • Eugenio Triguieros, 1741, from the Bishopric of Macao (died on voyage), Lourenço de Santa Maria e Mello 1744-1750;
  • Antonio Taveira de Neiva Brum e Sllveira, 1750-1775;
  • Francisco de Assumpção e Brito, 1775-1780;
  • Manoel de Santa catharina, transferred from Cochin (1780) 1784-1812, Manoel de São Gualdino, 1812-1831;
  • José Maria de Silva Torres, 1844-1849;
  • João chrysostome d'Amorim e Pessoa, 1963-1869 (1874), Ayres de Ornellas Vasconsellos, 1875-1880;
  • Antonio Sebastião Valente (first patriarch) 1882-1908.
  • The present prelate, Mathaeus d'Oliveira Xavier, transferred from Cochin, took possession of his see 1 July, 1909.
During the vacancies (some of which extended to 6, 7, 13, and one even to 23 years) the see was, according to the rules laid down by Gregory XIII in 1562 and Leo XII in 1826, administered by the Bishop of Cochin, or, failing him, by the Bishop of Mylapore; and failing both, sometimes by some prelate from elsewhere, sometimes by a coadjutor or vicar capitular, as circumstances allowed. Synods

The first and second provincial synods were presided over by Dom Gaspar de Leão Pereira in 1567 and 1575 respectively, the third, in 1585, by Dom Vicente da Fonseca, the fourth, in 1592, by Dom Matheus de Medina ; the fifth, in 1606, by Dom Aleixo de Menezes. In these five councils 316 decrees were framed relating to ecclesiastical discipline (Fonseca, p. 67). In recent times one provincial council was held (1894) by Dom Antonio S. Valente, in which seventy-nine decrees were framed. The special Synod of Diamper, held in 1599, had for its scope the reunion of the Thomas Christians, for whom the See of Angamale was established in the following year.


The city of Goa, originally a fortress in the hands first of the Hindus and then of the Mohammedans, was taken by Albuquerque in 1510. As soon as he became master of the place he built the first church--that of St. Catherine, who thus became the patron of the new city. This was the beginning of a vast series of churches, large and small, numbering over fifty, with convents, hospices and other institutions attached, which made Goa one of the most interesting ecclesiastical cities in the world. The civil splendour was in keeping with the ecclesiastical. But the situation was an unfortunate one. Lying on a low stretch of coast-land, surrounded on two sides by shallow creeks and on the other two by miasmic marshes, the place was soon found unhealthy to such a degree that, after several ravages by epidemics, it was gradually abandoned in favour of Panjim, five miles nearer the sea. The transfer of the Government in 1759 soon led to the total desertion of the old city. In consequence the civil buildings gradually fell into decay or were demolished for the sake of building materials, and, especially after the expulsion of the religious orders in 1835, many churches and monasteries followed suit. In place of houses thick palmgroves gradually grew up, which now, with the exception of a few open spaces, occupy the whole area. The original city extended almost two miles from east to west along the river, and comprised three low hills crowned with religious edifices.

Most of the churches have disappeared, leaving nothing but a cross to mark their site. Others are in various stages of decay, while a few are kept in repair. The finest of those still standing are grouped about the great square: the cathedral (built 1571), in which alone the full liturgy is kept up by a body of resident canons, and adjoining which is an archiepiscopal palace, the Bom Jesus church ( Jesuit, built c. 1586), containing the body of St. Francis Xavier incorrupt in a rich shrine; St. Cajetan's, built about 1655, belonging to the Theatines ; the Franciscan church of St. Francis of Assisi, built on the site of a mosque 1517-21: and finally the little chapel of St. Catherine, built in 1510. Farther away, on the western hill, stand the great nunnery of St. Monica (1598), still in full repair, formerly occupied by a large community of native nuns --the only female religious in Goa; the Augustinian church and convent built in 1572, now in ruins; convent and church of St. John of God (1685), now partly in ruins; the Rosary church of the Dominicans, built before 1543; the viceregal chapel of St. Anthony, of about the same date. The last two are still in full repair. To the south are the ruins of the Jesuit college of St. Paul, built about 1541, and the Carmelite church and convent, built about 1612, occupied after 1707 by Oratorians. The chapel of St. Francis Xavier , the scene of the "Domine, satis est", built before 1542, is still in repair. The following either have entirely disappeared or their sites are marked only by ruins: the chapel of St. Martin, built shortly after 1547; college and church of St. Bonaventure (about 1602); Nossa Senhora de Serra (1513); convent and church of St. Dominic, built about 1548, rebuilt 1550, Santa Luzia at Daujim (about 1544); church of St. Thomas, built to receive the relics of St. Thomas brought from Mylapore in 1560; church of St. Alexis, built before 1600; church of the Holy Trinity , built about the same time ; convent and church of Cruz dos Milagres, built after 1619; Nossa Senhora da Luz built before 1543; new college and church of St. Paul ( alias convent of St. Roch ) used as a college in 1610, church rebuilt later. From the church of Our Lady of the Mount, on the eastern hill, which is still in repair, a magnificent panorama is obtained.

Besides these convents and churches there were others attached to the Royal Hospital, the Santa Casa de Misericordia, the retreats of N.S. de Serra and Santa Maria Magdalene, the hospital of St. Lazarus, the hospital of All Saints, etc. to say nothing of a long list of churches and chapels in the suburbs.

The Inquisition, which was introduced into Goa in 1500, possessed a majestic building in the great square close to the cathedral. The staff (Dominicans) consisted originally of three principal officials. In 1565 there were five, whose joint salaries amounted only to about $355 per annum. In 1682 their number was raised to thirty-two, in 1800 it had increased to forty-seven. This institution, which had been once debanded in 1774 and restored again in 1779, was finally abolished in 1812. The decaying building was pulled down in 1820, and at present only the site is preserved.

From a government list drawn up in 1804, we learn the number of convents and regulars existing under the Portuguese at that time. There were 3 convents of Observantine Fransciscans, with 63 inmates; 7 of Reformed Fransciscans, with 72 inmates; 10 of Dominicans, with 61 inmates; 9 of Augustinians, with 79 inmates; 1 of Carmelites, with 28 inmates; 1 of Theatines, with 13 inmates, 4 of St. John of God, with 30 inmates; 2 of Oratorians, with 61 inmates, and the convent of St. Monica, with 61 inmates; total, 38 houses, with 486 inmates. Collectively their funds at this time amounted to a capital of £96,378 (about $491,000), with a resultant income of £5876 (about $29,000) per year (Fonseca, p. 69). On the expulsion of the religious orders in 1835, their property, with an aggregate value of £122,566 (about $610,000), was appropriated by the government, while the number of religious expelled was 248. Their missions were transferred to the secular clergy, who received some portion of the confiscated funds for their support. According to the budget of 1873-74 the state contribution to the maintenance of 110 missionaries was £2145, while the total ecclesiastical expenditure for the same year was £4955. (Fonseca, p. 70). These figures include the suffragan dioceses. In 1908 the total government expenditure amounted, it is said, to over £16,000.


In accordance with the concordat of 1886 (with subsequent adjustments) the Archdiocese of Goa comprises the whole of the Portuguese territory of Goa, and in British territory the three districts of North Canara, Savantwadi, and Belgaum, besides one exempted church in Poona. The Archbishop of Goa is metropolitan over 3 province comprising the three suffragan Sees of Cochin, Mylapore, and Damao in India, Macao in China, and Mozambique in East Africa. The Portuguese territories consist of the Velhas Conquistas (llhas, Bardes, Salsette) and the Novas Conquistas. North Canara is under a vicar-general, and Belgaum, Poona, and the native State of Savantwadi etc., are under another called the Vicar-General of the Ghauts. The patriarchal residence is at Panjim, or New Goa. There is an episcopal seminary at Rachol containing at present about 534 students, of whom 82 are in the course of theology. There is also a smaller seminary at Mapuca. The total member of priests belonging to the archdiocese is about 724, of whom four (at Belgaum) belong to the Jesuit Order, the rest being secular clergy. Besides these there are 20 religious of the Hospitallers of St. Francis, who conduct a college for girls and an asylum at Panjim, and 10 Sisters of Charity of Canossa who have under them a asylum and orphanage at Belgaum. There are several schools affiliated to the seminary at Mapuca and also 145 elementary schools. The total Catholic population in Portuguese territory is reckoned at 293,628 out of a total population 365,291. In British territory the Catholic population is more scanty, numbering about 35,403. According to Madras Directory for 1908 the totals for the archdiocese are as follows: 102 parishes and 22 missions, 129 churches and 336 chapels, 619 priests, 312 confraternities, and 306 pious associations ; 3879 children attending schools, and a total Catholic population of 335,031.

The map of Goa, representing an area of about a mile and a half by one mile, which accompanies this article is based on those of Cottineau de Kloguen and Fonseca, modified by personal observations made in 1907. It claims to be a rough sketch only. The crosses represent objects of which no notable features remain.

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