Standing with its gracious façade facing east to welcome each new day, and to the west of the great square Terreiro de Sabaio, Se Cathedral is the most imposing of all the churches at Old Goa, its vaulted interior overwhelming visitors with its sheer grandeur. Se Cathedral Goa, is dedicated to St. Catherine
Open every day from 7.30 am to 6 pm.
Weekdays – 7.30 am and 6.00 pm
Sunday – 7.15 am, 10.00 am and 4.00 pm
Claim to fame: The Se Cathedral wast built to commemorate the victory of Afonso Albuquerque, which was won on the feast of St. Catherine of Alexandria, this edifice is the largest church in Asia. It is the Cathedral of the Archbishop of Goa.
With its superb Iberian façade, soaring ceilings, fabulous mosaic work, intricate wood and gilded carvings, the Se Cathedral, also sometimes called St. Catherine’s cathedral is an absolute must-see for any visitor in Goa.
The construction of Se Cathedral in Goa started in 1562 and ended in 1652. The hundred years spent on this construction, have indeed been well worth it, as the proud cathedral still stands tall and almost unblemished today. Built on a raised laterite plinth and covered in lime plaster, this cathedral measures 250 feet (76 m) in length, 181 feet (55 m) in breadth whilst its frontispiece stands 115 feet (35 m) high
The interior is laid out in a traditional cruciform shape, even though the exterior appears rectangular. The interior architecture is Corinthian. The main altar is dedicated to St Catherine of Alexandria. Besides the main altar there are eight chapels along the sides of the nave and six altars at the transept.
Pope Pius the XII conferred upon this shrine the Golden Rose, which is a gold ornament, a token of reverence and affection. The ornament itself has since been placed on the tomb of St. Francis Xavier.
Visitors to this shrine should make it a point to see the magnificent reredos above the main altar whose six gilded panels depict the life of Saint Catherine, the fifteen communion tables, dedicated to Our Lady of Three Needs, Our Lady of Hope and Our Lady of Anguish and the baptismal font, built in 1532 which was used by St. Francis Xavier to baptize converts. Also worth seeing, is the chapel of the Cross of Miracles, where a vision of the Christ has been said to have appeared in 1919.
Usually numbered among early women martyrs, Catherine of Alexandria holds a special place among the prophetic saints in the church because of her role as philosophical defender of the faith. She is also the patroness of Christian philosophers besides being the patroness of the City of Old Goa, aka Velha Goa or Goa Velha.
In Church art, St. Catherine of Alexandria, is depicted wearing a crown, (denoting her royal Birth), holding a book, (denoting knowledge), and steering a spiked wheel (denoting her martyrdom). The reason for this is tradition is to denote the notable epochs in her life.
Contrary to the idea that this chapel was built using funds from the Royal Treasury, some sources instead claim that it was built using money from the sale of properties that were impounded by the government.
The Cross of Miracles (Khuris Milagre) is also credited with phenomenal power and significance some legends state that it is constantly, if slowly, growing, whilst others claim to have seen water spring from the rock upon which the cross is built.
This Cathedral in Goa is not only worth a visit in its own right, but it is also convenient to several other tourist spots. The convent which adjoined the cathedral has been converted into an Archaeological Museum which is open to the public and the world famous Bom Jesus Basilica, lies just on the other side of the square. Small wonder then, that no visit to Goa could be considered complete without gazing at the awe-inspiring art and architecture of this most revered cathedral.