Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church, Goa
History and museums
The Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church is located in Panjim, Goa, India. The Church conducts mass every day in English, Konkani, and Portuguese.
The colonial Portuguese Baroque style church was first built in 1541 as a chapel by the Portuguese, was replaced by a larger church in the 1600s, then in colonial Portuguese Goa .
The church is located in Panaji, with the Municipal Gardens to its southeast in the foreground. The site was the location of a colonial port landing, where ships sailing from Lisbon made first call and where sailors disembarked, before they proceeding further inland to Ela (now Old Goa), which was the capital of Goa until the 19th century. A laterite walkway and a straight line of thin palm trees were part of the scene around the church.
A chapel was first built in Panaji in 1541, to serve the religious needs of Portuguese sailors at their first port of call in colonial Portuguese India. At that time the settlement was a small fishing village. It became a Parish in 1600, and in 1609 the small chapel was replaced by the present day large church to serve the religious activities of the residents and sailors. In the 18th century the stairways, in a symmetrical zigzag form, were added to the church. The second largest church bell in Goa was installed in a bell tower in 1871. It was formerly at the Augustinian Monastery on Holy Hill, and was retrieved after the monastery was damaged.
The exterior facade of the church, rich with Portuguese Baroque style architectural elements, is kept painted a bright white. The tall belfry centered atop the facade houses the bell from the Augustinian Monastery. Next to the suspended ropes for ringing the bell there is sign asking "please do not ring the bell."
The interior of the church is not extravagant, but is colourful. The main altar, which has an elegant decor, is dedicated to Mary. There are two other intricately carved, gold plated and decorated altars, one each on either side of the main altar. The one to the left is of Jesus's Crucifixion, and the one to the right is of the Our Lady of the Rosary. These two altars are flanked by marble statues of St Peter and St Paul.
On festive occasions, the wooden structural elements, which form part of the vaulted ceiling above the altars, are festooned with twines of blue and white flowers, an indication of the external colour scheme of the church.
There is also a chapel of St. Francis Xavier, located in the south transept to the right side of the main altar; the statues in this chapel are enclosed in a glass case.
During the Festival of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, held every year on 8 December, the church is colourfully illuminated. A fair is also part of this festival.