St. Cajetan Church, Old Goa - a fascinating World Heritage Site

St. Cajetan Church in Old Goa

St. Cajetan Church, completed in 1661 is one of the oldest churches in India. Named after saint St. Cajetan (1480 - 1547), an italian priest and reformer,  who was  beatified  on 8 October 1629 - 82 years after his death.  Also  known as the Church of Divine Providence, it is in old Goa, once a Portuguese settlement.  A church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Goa and Daman, it is part of the World Heritage Site, Churches and convents of Goa.

St. Cajetan Church in Old

The church came into being owing to dedicated efforts made by  Italian priests led by  Pedro Avitabili who got permission from the king of portugal  John IV of Portugal to work along with the Portuguese priests in Goa in their missionary work and to spread the message of ''Gospel of love'' by Christ. In 1650 they built a hospital and later in 1655   a church and a small convent near it. 

Church was modeled after  St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City and  its design was entrusted with   Italian architects, Carlo Ferrarini and Francesco Maria Milazzo.   

Interior,St. Cajetan Church in Old Goa.

Altar and dome St. Cajetan Church in Old Goa 
Built in the form of a Greek Cross with a large hemispherical dome in the middle, the attractive features are the  Corinthian style facade of the church that displays two quadrangular turrets instead of towers. Ornate Corinthian columns  with four decorative niches, contain the  granite statues of the apostles Peter, Paul, John, and Matthew. Besides, Latin inscriptions from the Gospel of Matthew inside the dome enhance the beauty of the interior.  Yet another feature is there are seven altars, with the main altar dedicated to Our Lady of Providence which is  intricately carved and backed by a gilded reredos (an ornamental screen). The main one is based on the one at  Church of San Nicolo, Verona. It was ordered in 1713 by the Theatines under Cosimo III de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany. The altar to Saint Cajetan is located on the right

The cupola on a raised square platform  over a covered well suggests that the church was built on a site of a Hindu temple. In order to take care of the dead Portuguese soldiers before dispatching them to Lisbon, capital of portugal, the cemetery below the altar in 1842 was converted into a vault (to store the bodies). 

The nearby Convent of St. Cajetan, constructed on a much smaller scale than the church, is equally an impressive building and it   houses the Pius X Institute of Pastoral Theology for the training of priests and a small museum of Christian relics.

Being a popular church lots of people visit it year round as it is a fine example of old Portuguese architecture with numerous innovative features. Saint Cajetan's  feast day is 7th August.