A jewel In Panaji's Crown
Category : Articles
Location  : Goa

Prajal Sakhardande,
Head of History Department.
Dhempe College,Miramar,Goa

Standing tall and elegant in the heart of the Capital is the famous Church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception of (Igreja Maria Immaculada Conceicao).

With a flight of steps adding to its exquisite charm and majestic look of the immaculately the Panjim Church is rooted in Goa's historic past and Culture for more than four and half centuries. Built originally before 1540, that is, between1510 - 1540 by the Portuguese, the Shrine of Nossa Senhora da Immaculada Conceicao was raised to a Parish Church in 1600. It is one of the oldest Catholic ecclesiastical structures of Panaji, contemporary to the Cabo Chapel at Dona Paula.

It was rebuilt from its foundations in 1612 but historian scholar from Panaji Antonio de Menezes writes that it was rebuilt in 1619. (‘Goa' - Historical Notes - Vol. I by Anthonio Menezes).

He further states that the flight of steps which leads up to the Church dates back to 1870. According to B.D. Satoskar the stairs are of 1780.

The bell at the top of the Church is the second largest in Goa, the first being that of Se Cathedral at Old Goa.

The Church originally stood on a small hillock called ‘Conceicao Hill' and, hence, the necessity was felt to built the majestic steps. The bell was cast in 1749 and placed in the Church in 1871.

In 1619, the Portuguese Governor of Goa, Ferrao Albuquerque took charge of his office in the Church. On 8th September, 1641 the royal proclamation of Dom Joao IV (Braganca royal family) as the 21st King of Portugal was read out, by a nine year old boy Andre in this Church. Mr. C.M. Estibeiro in his book - "Goa, Yesterday & Today" writes that the Church of Mary Immaculate Conception has its own pristine historic splendour, apart from its architectural beauty of majestic façade with two balustraded towers and an imposing central gable which holds the famous bell whose sound resounds throughout Panjim.

The majestic stairway of the church set in a zig-zag pattern rising in angled platforms has at the centre a beautiful pulpit with the image of our Lady in standing position raised on a pedestal with an inscription of 8th December, 1954. The stairway has balustraded pattern dotted with posts. The façade has other architectural features like pediments and Roman arched entrance, pilasters, niches, belfry and above all a red cross set on the king's crown at the apex of this charming Church. Its illuminated view is a treat to the eyes. During the Portuguese period St. Thomas Aguinas College was located behind the church.
       Antonio Menezes mentions that it was one of the six shrines mentioned in the ‘Convencao of June 30, 1541. The others being the shrine of Cabo, Carambolim, Batim, Diwar and Banastarim.

The altar of the Church is in the baroque-Renaissance style. The side altars are that of Francis Xavier. The Church vault is done up in the ribbed vault style.In the Church there are many Portuguese inscriptions of 1866, 1871, 1955 etc. In the Centre of the altar there is no image but star with a red background.

8th December is celebrated as the feast of this church.

 

 


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