St. Catherine's Chapel, first catholic structure in Goa.
Category : Articles
Location  : Old Goa

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

The first ever Christian ecclesiastical structure to be built in Goa, was the small yet elegant St. Catherine's Chapel located at Old Goa. But unfortunately, very few people or tourists take note of this Chapel of immense historical significance and pertinence.

The Portuguese 'governador' Afonso de Albuquerque had constructed it originally in 1510, dedicated to St. Catherine since it was on her feast day; i.e. November 25, 1510, that he was successful in re-conquering Goa from the Adhil Shah of Bijapur. Originally, there stood a mosque of the Adil Shah's city from where Afonso de Albuquerque entered the city. You can see the fort wall of Adil Shah even now opposite the Chapel at Old Goa. Albuquerque ordered the demolition of the mosque on November 25, 1510 and built a modest Chapel there with mud, palm leaves, etc.

It was enlarged in 1550 by the Portuguese Governor, George Cabral and re-built in 1952 using laterite blocks. It has a tower on either side of the facade and the interior is plain with only an altar. On one side of the Chapel is a stone inscription in Portuguese. The Chapel has rectangular window panes of the Old Portuguese style dressed in mica shells. It is perhaps the second or the third oldest Christian structures in entire Asia. The Church of St. Francis of Asisi at Old Goa lies next to it. Although the Chapel is not functional now, its historical significance goes back to the inaugural year of the Portuguese rule.

Portuguese Governor George Cabral, put up an inscribed slab, which when translated reads as follows: "Here on this spot and by door entered the Governor Afonso de Albuquerque reconquered this city from the Moors (Muslim Adil Shah) on the day dedicated to St. Catherine in the year 1510 in whose honour and memory the Governor Jorge Cabral raised this house in the year 1550."

The period look of this chapel is quite obvious and every Goan interested in Goa's history and culture should have a look at this simple, but graceful chapel with brown and white exteriors.

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