It is a great feeling to learn about the great Saint Francis of Assisi, Italy, who lived over 800 years ago and to be at the magnificent Church of Saint Assisi and Convent in Goa, which was established by eight Portuguese Franciscan Friars who landed in Goa in 1517. It is situated in the main square of Old Goa, 10 kilometres east of Panaji, the State Capital.
Saint Francis of Assisi was born Giovanni di Pietro di Bemardone, informally named as Francesco (1181-3rd Oct.1226). He was born in Assisi a town in Italy in the province of Perugia. He founded the Franciscan religious order – Order of Friars Minor for men, Order of Saint Clare for women, the order of Saint Francis and the Custody of the Holy Land, in this town around 1208. Pope Gregory IX canonized Francis on 16th July 1228 and he was designated Patron Saint of Italy. St. Francis is one of the most venerated religious figures in history. The present Pope (266th), Jorge Mario Bergoglio from Argentina, took his Papal title after St. Francis of Assisi and is known to the world as Pope Francis. Life of St. Francis has made an impact on me. You may look for his life particulars on internet.
Now coming back to the Church, it was a small Chapel in 1517. It was modified to a Church in 1521 and consecrated in 1602. That building was replaced by the current structure erected in 1661. It is a mixture of styles. Its exterior decoration is in the simple Tuscan order, but its interior especially the main altar is rich with Baroque and Corinthian features. The three-tier exterior façade has two distinct octagonal towers, one on each side and a small niche that houses a statue of Mary. The Church’s interior includes a richly ornamental niche with a tabernacle supported by the four Evangelists on the main altar. Above the tabernacle are two large statues, one of St. Francis of Assisi and the other of the crucified Christ. The Church’s gilded interior is decorated with paintings of events in the life of St. Francis, carved woodwork, additional statues, and frescos with intricate floral designs. You may see this to some extent in the attached pictures.
The Convent, contiguous to the Church houses a museum that was set up by the Archaeological Survey of India in 1964. The museum contains several artifacts, paintings and sculptures that testify Goa’s rich and vibrant history…photography is prohibited in the museum.
This is a must visit place in Old Goa. And as a final word, no tour of Goa could be complete without a visit to this twofold attraction.