The Sé Cathedral of St. Katherine in Old Goa - What is so special about it?

 cathedral of old Goa,dedicated to st.Catherine.
Largest in Goa & Asia: Sé cathedral of old Goa
The small State of Goa has many historical and beautiful churches built during the Portuguese rule in that region. Some of them are quite artistically quite inspiring. Among them,  cathedral of old Goa is impressive is a great destination of tourists.
King Dom Sebastião (1557-78)
e church in Asia, the  Cathedral or  Cathedral of St. Katherine, the most  ancient and celebrated religious buildings of old Goa, was commissioned by the Portuguese Viceroy, Redondo/George Cabral  and he wanted it to be "a grandiose church worthy of the wealth, power and fame of the Portuguese who dominated the seas from the Atlantic to the Pacific". This magnificent 16th century  Roman Catholic  Church built during the Portuguese rule in Goa is dedicated to St. Catherine of Alexandria on whose feast day in 1510 Alfonso Albuquerque defeated the Muslim army and took possession of the city of Goa. Hence it is also known as St. Catherine's' Cathedral.  Though commenced in 1562, for various reasons, apparently unstable political situation prevailing then, the cathedral was not completed until 1652 when the altars were finished.  It is an excellent example of European Renaissance architecture; the interior has Corinthian  style of architecture and it  boasts of several chapels and a total of 15 altars around the walls, seldom found in other churches. The  fully finished building  is bigger than any of the churches in Portugal itself.

 cathedral of old
It was during the rule of of King Dom Sebastião (1557-78) 
the construction of this imposing structure had begun in earnest in 1562  and later completed in 1619. As mentioned above,
the  main altars did not get ready  until the year 1652. However, the consecration of the cathedral was done in 1640. It is said the expenses were met by the Royal Treasury out of the proceeds of the sale of the Crown's property and it was built for the Dominicans.

 cathedral of old Goa
The  building built in Portuguese-Gothic in style with a Tuscan exterior and Corinthian interior  stands to the west of the great square called Terreiro de Sabaio and has its façade turned to the east. The church is 250 ft in length and 181 ft in breath. The frontispiece stands 115 ft high. It has a fine  courtyard that can be accessed by a flight of steps. 

The  cathedral originally had two tall towers on either side at the front, but the one on the south side collapsed in 1776. Since the loss of  Bell tower. it has not been rebuilt, and surprisingly, this cathedral with plain exterior  has a unique appearance in the Tuscan tradition and it is quite catchy.  Yet another interesting feature is this cathedral has has five bells. The surviving  tower houses a famous bell, believed to be  the largest in Goa and is often referred to as 'Golden Bell'  owing to its rich and distinct tone which has been immortalized in a Portuguese poem. As for the main altar, it is dedicated to St. Catherine of Alexandria, and has old paintings on either side of it displaying various  scenes from her life and martyrdom. The Saint was beheaded in Alexandria and among the images here are those showing her awaiting execution and being carried to Mount Sinai by angels

 cathedral of old Goa and ASI.
 Built on a raised plinth of laterite, covered over with lime plaster, the cathedral has a  a long nave, two aisles and a transept.  The nave is barrel-vaulted while the crossing is rib-vaulted. Massive pillars support the vault in the nave and the choir, while the chapels on either side are separated by internal defences. The building is oblong in plan but has a cruciform layout in the interior. A bell tower is located to the southern side of the façade.

 cathedral of old Goa,
The  front main entrance has Corinthian columns on plinths supporting a pediment containing an inscription in Latin  mentioning that, in 1562, in the reign of King Dom Sebastiao, this Cathedral was ordered to be erected and later rulers  continued the same at the cost of the Royal Treasury.

The notable feature is there are four chapels on either side of the nave, two of which have perforated wooden screens across the entrance. The screens are so beautiful, its workmanship is just amazing. Of these two screened chapels, the outstanding Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament has a nicely  gilded and beautifully decorated wall and ceiling as opposed to the sober look of the cathedral's interior.
Largest in Goa & Asia: Sé cathedral of old Goa
On the right of the nave, is the other screened chapel, the Chapel of the Cross of Miracles. It is said a vision of Christ is said to have appeared in 1919 on this huge, plain, cross. Towering above the main altar is the huge gilded reredos. The six panels are carved with scenes from the life of St Catherine. .
There are small  statuettes of St Francis Xavier and St Ignatius Loyola  inset into the main pillars supporting the choir   The chamber to the right, contains  the baptismal font made in 1532, apparently brought from the old Cathedral. 
St Francis Xavier is said to have baptized thousands of Goan converts using this font. A large painting of St. Christopher is hung beneath the choir.

The four chapels are to the left of the entrance dedicated to Our Lady of Virtues, St. Sebastian, the Blessed Sacrament and Our Lady of Life. The four chapels to the right are  dedicated to St. Anthony, St. Bernard, the Cross of Miracles and the Holy Ghost.

There are two wooden pulpits in the nave  projecting from two columns on the right. There are are six altars in the transept, three on either side of the main altar. The altars on the right side are those of St. Anna, Our Lady of Dolores and St. Peter, while those on the left are those of Our Lady of Sorrows, Our Lady of Three Necessities and Our Lady of Hope.

The arches in the  altars are decorated with paintings depicting scenes from the lives of the saints. The wooden statues of St. Paul and St. Peter are kept  in the niche on either side of the nave.

 There is an 18th century organ kept in a projecting gallary  near the altar in the nave. There are also  seats for the canon and a throne for the archbishop in the nave. Yet another feature is an old richly carved  ebony stand, which was originally in the Church of St. Francis of Assisi. The  church is modelled after St. Peter's Church in Rome as it is revealed by the presence of vaulted structure with gilded altar in the  sacristy.

The adjoining conventis turned in to an Archaeological Museum and is open to the public. Just behind the cathedral lies a two storied edifice, the Palace of the Archbishop, which is no longer in use. The Franciscan church lies to the the west of the cathedral. Archdiocese of Goa and Daman is taking care of the administration.  It is a UNESCO world Heritage Site.