Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church, Goa
|Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church|
|Town or city||Panaji, Goa|
|Completed||Chapel in 1541, Church in 1609 1609|
The colonial Portuguese Baroque style church was first built in 1541 as a chapel on a hill side overlooking the city of Panjim. It was eventually replaced by a larger church in the 1600s as part of Portuguese Goa's religious expansion. This church houses the ancient bell that was removed from the Augustinian ruins of the Church of Our Lady of Grace (Nossa Senhora da Graça) in the once famed city of Old Goa. This bell is considered to be the second largest of its kind in Goa, surpassed only by the Golden Bell which resides in the Sé Cathedral in Old Goa.
A chapel was first built in Panaji in 1541, to serve the religious needs of Portuguese sailors at their first port of call in colonial Portuguese India. At that time the settlement was a small fishing village. It became a Parish in 1600, and in 1609 the small chapel was replaced by the present day large church to minister to the residents and sailors. In the 18th century the stairways, in a symmetrical zigzag form, were added to the church. The second largest church bell in Goa was installed in a bell tower in 1871. It was formerly at the Augustinian Monastery on Holy Hill, and was retrieved after the monastery was damaged. 
The church is located in Panjim and sits atop a hill facing the square below. The city's municipal garden (Garcia da orta) lies to its southeast and can be seen from atop the hill. The site was once the location of a colonial port landing where ships sailing from Lisbon made first call, and where sailors disembarked before they proceeding further inland to Ela (now Old Goa) - the capital of Goa until the 19th century. A laterite stone walkway with ziz-zag stairs ascend the church while lines of thin and tall palm trees form part of the scene.
The exterior facade of the church, rich with Portuguese Baroque style architectural elements is painted a bright white to signify the Immaculate virgin, Mary. The tall belfry centered atop the facade houses the bell from the Augustinian Monastery. The imposing façade is distinctive with its two towers and centrally placed taller belfry. It can be seen from a great distance and is often known as the ‘crown’ of Panjim. The church is laid out in the orthodox cruciform fashion with a nave and a transept. The steps are possibly remodeled after the Nossa Senhora da Peneda Sanctuary in Penada and the Bom Jesus do Monte church in Tenões, Portugal.
The interior of the church is not extravagant, but is colourful. The main altar, which has an elegant decor, is dedicated to Mother Mary. There are two other intricately carved, gold plated and decorated altars, one each on either side of the main altar. The one to the left is of Jesus's Crucifixion, and the one to the right is of the Our Lady of the Rosary. These two altars are flanked by marble statues of St Peter and St Paul.
On festive occasions, the wooden structural elements, which form part of the vaulted ceiling above the altars, are festooned with twines of blue and white flowers, an indication of the external colour scheme of the church.
During the Festival of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, held every year on 8 December, the church is colourfully illuminated. A fair is also part of this festival.
- Harding 2003, p. 116.
- Thomas 2012, p. 246.
- Abram 2003, p. 74.
- "Our Lady Of The Immaculate Conception Church, Panjim". Government of Goa, Department of Tourism.
- Fodor's 2013, p. 427.
- The largest church bell in Goa is at the Se Cathedral,
- GTDC. "Goa Tourism - Church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception Panjim". www.goa-tourism.com. Retrieved 2017-03-13.
- Abram, David (2003). Goa. Rough Guides. ISBN 978-1-84353-081-7.
- Fodor's, India (7 May 2013). Fodor's Essential India: with Delhi, Rajasthan, Mumbai, and Kerala. Fodor's Travel Publications. ISBN 978-0-89141-944-0.
- Harding, Paul (2003). Goa. Lonely Planet. ISBN 978-1-74059-139-3.
- Thomas, Amelia (1 June 2012). Lonely Planet Goa & Mumbai. Lonely Planet. ISBN 978-1-74321-315-5.
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