Se Cathedral of Santa Catarina, Panaji

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Dedicated to the Catherine of Alexandria, Se Cathedral of Santa Catarina is arguable India’s largest church. While this claim has been met with stiff opposition, the church attracts thousands of tourists and pilgrims every year, especially around Christmas.

After all, the church measures close to 250 feet in length, 181 feet in breadth and stands at over 115 feet tall. That’s’ taller than 10 stories! This church is proximate to another famous church, St. Francis of Assisi Church and Convent.

The Se Cathedral of Santa Catarina forms part of a group of very famous churches dedicated to Catherine, most of them being in Brazil.

The History

Unlike most of the Goa based cathedrals of its era, the Se Cathedral of Santa Catarina is immaculately maintained. Built in 1510 to commemorate the Portuguese victory and eventual takeover of Goa from the Mugal Army, the cathedral originally featured two towers, one of which was destroyed along the way and never rebuilt.

This is why, till date, the cathedral is an asymmetrical structure. Since the day of the victory of the Portuguese armies happened to be on the day of the feast of Catherine, the church was dedicated to her.

The church did not become active until after it was constructed. Construction finished in 1619 and the church was subsequently made active in 1640.

Inside the church, one can help but marvel at the magnanimity of the main alter which is dedicated to Catherine of Alexandria. Look up at the tower, and you’ll catch a glimpse of one of Goa’s largest most melodious church bells dubbed the Golden Bell because of the quality of its sound. To the right of the main chapel is situated the Cross of Miracles where Jesus Christ is said to have miraculously appeared in 1919.

How to get there?

The Church of Saint Catherine, is a little far off, inland towards the east around 9 kilometers from the capital city of Panjim. From Panjim, Vasco da Gama and Margao, one can get a cab. It’s quite a ride from North and South Goa, and we recommend you hire a bike or use your own vehicle, since one can make a day of it, visiting other sights and sounds around the church. The revered St. Francis of Assisi Church and Convent is just a stone throw away from the Se Cathedral of Santa Catarina.

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