History of Se Cathedral
The history of Se Cathedral traces back to the time of Dominicans, who were the first missionaries to be sent to India by the Portuguese. The Se Cathedral is dedicated to St. Catherine, as it was on her feast day, 25th November 1510 that Alfonso de Albuquerqueconquered Goa. Thus, this cathedral was built to commemorate the victory of the Portuguese over a Muslim army, leading to the capture of the city of Goa in 1510.
Foundation of Se Cathedral
The original church erected was that of mud, stones and straw. Subsequent modifications were made and a second church came up in 1515. Later the status of church was elevated to a cathedral and the structure demolished to make way for the subsequent building. It was commissioned by Governor George Cabral to be enlarged in 1552 on the remains of the earlier structure. The actual construction began in 1562 under the reign of King Dom Sebastian and substantially completed by 1619. This west facing church is made in shape of a cross and the Blessed Sacrament was placed on the altar on the feast day of the Guardian Angel amidst great solemnities.
Architecture of Se Cathedral
The Se Cathedral has been built on a raised plinth of laterite, covered over with lime plaster. The Cathedral stands to the west of the great square called “Terreiro de Sabaio” and has its facade turned to the east. Its beautiful courtyard is approached by a flight of steps. The architecture style of Se Cathedral is Portuguese-Gothic. The church is 250 ft in length and 181 ft in breath. The frontispiece stands 115 ft high. The west-facing cathedral has a Tuscan exterior with square towers flanking the 30.3 metre high facade; whereas the intricately detailed Corinthian interior has huge pillars dividing the 76.2 metre long central space from the side aisles.
The Se Cathedral is famous for its 5 massive bells. There were originally two towers, one on either side of the facade, but the one on the southern side collapsed in 1776. The loss of one bell tower, which was never rebuilt, has given the building a unique look.
Interiors of Se Cathedral
The Se Cathedral has 15 altars and 8 chapels. The main altar is dedicated to Catherine of Alexandria, where on either side of the altar stand images of St. Peter and St. Paul. Beautifying are engravings depicting Martyrdom of St. Catherine of Alexandria (307 A.D.). The altar has frames carved depicting scenes from the life of St. Catherine and a majestic crucifix. Close to the altar is placed the throne of Archbishop of Goa. In a gallery close to nave is placed an 18th century organ. To the right is a door leading to the barrel vault structured sacristy which has a model of St. Peter’s Church in Rome. On the left side are the chapels dedicated to Nossa Senhora de Necessidades, St. Sebastian, the Blessed Sacrament and the last to Nossa Senhora de Boa Vida. The adjoining convent has been turned in to an Archaeological Museum and is open to the public.