Renowned as the largest church in Goa, Se Cathedral is one of the top tourist attractions in Goa. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Se Cathedral is known for its imposing interiors and mosaic work. Not just this but Se Cathedral Goa has the impressive Golden Bell, which is the largest one not just in Goa but in the world. St. Catherine to whom this church is dedicated was believed to be one of the early women martyrs and the patroness of Christian philosophers besides being the patroness of the City of Old Goa now called Velha Goa.
Dedicated to the Catherine of Alexandria, Se Cathedral is one of the ancient structures in Goa, which is classically Portugese brick by brick. The historic church is located in the old part of the state, right on the banks of the Mandovi river. Representing the royal and imperial atmosphere of the bygone Portugese era, Se Cathedral is an important attraction in Goa.
As per one of the popular beliefs, it is said that a vision of the holy Christ appeared in the church and due to that, the cross is gradually increasing in size with every passing year. Gaining such a sacred mileage, Se Cathedral has become an ultimate destination for the Christians traveling from all over the world to Goa.
Flaunting a Portugese-Maneulin architectural style, the exteriors of the sprawling Se Cathedral are in Tuscan, while the interiors are Corinthian. The church tower houses a ‘Golden Bell’, which is highly appreciated for its rich tone. Main attraction on the inside is the altar, which is dedicated to Catherine of Alexandria.
To everyone’s delight, the altar has several old paintings, decorated on both sides of it. Just near the offering place, one can see six panels, which depict various scenes from the life of Saint Catherine. Wooden statues of St Paul and St Peter are also very eye catching.
Adding to the charm of this main attraction in Goa is the adjoining archaeological museum, which stays open for the general public. Premises of the Se Cathedral church also contain a two storied edifice, known as the ‘Palace of Arch bishop’.
Keep reading to know the history, legend, architecture, how to reach, tips, and more about Se Cathedral Church in Goa.
History of Se Cathedral Church Goa
A 17th-century Roman Catholic Church, Se Cathedral is devoted to St. Catherine of Alexandria and is the cathedral of the Archbishop of Goa. The construction of the Se Cathedral church started in 1552 during the reign of King Dom Sebastiao and was completed in 1652. It was built to commemorate the success of Afonso Albuquerque, a Portuguese ruler over the Muslim military. The day of the Portuguese’s victory was the feast day of St. Catherine of Alexandria.
Legend of Se Cathedral Church Goa
St. Catherine was born into a noble family of Alexandria and was a well-read girl. After experiencing a vision of Our Lady, the Madonna, and baby, she converted from Paganism to Christianity
She was the first to raise her voice against the persecution of the Christians and as her arguments were so logical, the then Roman Emperor Maxentius was unable to counter them. Thus, he put together a committee of 50 philosophers to discard her ideas. But, the assembly was defeated in front of her as well and professed Christianity as their faith.
Enraged, an emperor burnt the philosophers and send St. Catherine to jail. While in there, she converted only the jailers but the emperor’s wife as well. She continued to spread the word of Jesus Christ and showed the path of Christianity to around 200 people until she was made hostile and tortured. She was given the death sentence of being attached to a spiked breaking wheel. Surprisingly, the wheel broke down leaving her unscathed. Thus, the title of 'patroness of the wheelwright' was conferred on her.
At last, she was beheaded and it is said that the angels took her remnants and placed them to rest atop Mount Sinai. Today, as you visit this church, you will see St. Catherine embellished with a crown representative of her royal birth with a book in her hands, which indicates her impeccable knowledge.
Architecture Se Cathedral Church Goa
If you are an architecture admirer, you must visit Se Cathedral in Goa. It is built in Portuguese-Manueline style, which was popular back in the 16th century. This design also had the influence of many others like Italian Urban design, Mudejar, Flemish architecture, and Late Gothic architecture with Spanish Plateresque style. The exteriors of the church are built in Tuscan style, which is simple and has a plain appearance.
Mass Timings of Se Cathedral Goa:
- 7.30 am – 6.00 pm (Weekdays)
- 7.15 am, 10.00 am, and 4.00 pm (Sunday)
How to reach Se Cathedral Goa:
By air: You can take a flight to Dabolim Airport and then choose public transport like bus or a taxi to reach Se Cathedral. It is at a distance of 27 km from the airport and requires around 45 minutes to reach.
By train: Either take a train to Madgaon (35 km away) or Vasco da Gama railway station (27 km away) to Goa. Avail public transport to reach Se Cathedral.
By Road: Goa has a great network of roads that connects it to major places in Goa and other states via bus, taxi, or car.
Tips for visiting Se Cathedral Goa:
- Dress modestly. Wear outfits that cover your knees and shoulders.
- Do no litter to keep the surroundings clean and appealing to tourists.
- Visit the church during open hours to avoid crowds.
- Follow the rules and regulations of this church. Do not click photos in the prohibited areas.
- The parking of the church is a little far. So you have to walk a little.
Places to visit near Se Cathedral Goa:
- Viceroy’s Arch
- Basilica of Bom Jesus
- Old Goa
- The Archaeological Museum