Old Goa is a UNESCO world heritage site and is famed for its opulent buildings and churches reminiscent of the glory days of "Golden Goa". It was abandoned by the Portuguese officially in 1843 when the capital was moved to Panjim or Panaji. Today, most of the remaining buildings and churches are maintained by the Archeological Survey of India and the church services are maintained by the Archdiocese of Goa.
For a nautical colonial nation such as Portugal to settle on an island was helpful for purposes of overseas trade and defence, but did not necessarily help those who came to offer the Christian religion to these areas.
In the year 1510, the Portuguese sailor and explorer Afonso de Albuquerque took possession of the island of Goa off the Malabar coast of India.
The island then remained in Portuguese hands for more than 4½ centuries.
Francis Xavier was the first Jesuit to set foot on Indian soil on 6th May 1542.
Goa became a diocese (i.e., received a bishop of its own) in 1534, and then in 1554 was elevated to an archdiocese.
This meant that the Archbishop of Goa was the senior official of the church for all of the Portuguese Far East. He had responsibility for Cochin, Mayalapur (near Madras), Malacca, Macao (part of China) and Punai (in Japan).
Administratively in the Portuguese colonial hierarchy and for the Church hierarchy, Goa became a Portuguese "Rome of the East", and was referred to by that description.
In the year 1571, the Portuguese province of the Augustinians created a special Augustinian Congregation of The East. For Augnet pages about the invitation of the Augustinians from the king of Portugal to go to the Near East, click here
Twelve Augustinians departed
Lisbon on 18th
March 1572, and on 3rd September 1572 arrived at Goa. The Order then remained at Goa until 1663.
From the previous paragraphs, it can be seen that Goa had been established for 62 years when the first twelve Augustinians arrived there. The pioneering ministry in Goa had long been handled by the Franciscans and Jesuits.
A dozen Augustinian friars on their arrival in Goa built the first Augustinian priory there in 1572. This simple priory was rebuilt 1597-1602, mainly through the efforts of Gaspar de Sao Vicente O.S.A., and dedicated to Our Lady of Grace.
The project was assisted by the fact that at this period the Archbishop of Goa was a capable Augustinian, Dr Alexio (Alexis) de Menezes O.S.A
., whose patronal favour gave the Order of Saint Augustine a special place in the society of Goa.
This new Augustinian monastery, which became the richest monastery in Goa. Beside it was the massive Church of Our Lady of Grace - the largest church in Goa. It great height made it one of the greatest-ever feats of construction in Goa.
(Continued on the next page.)