Thursday, November 27, 2008

Spotlight on Goan churches - Rachol Seminary

Goa and its beautiful structures are spanned across the entire state. The focus of this post is on the Rachol Seminary in South Goa in Salcete taluka. This seminary has a very historic lineage and has transcendedRachol seminary Goa from different religions which include muslim , hindu and Christianity.

If one travels from Margao, Goa’s commercial city, a seven kilometer stretch passing through fatorda and Raia will finally land you at the rachol Seminary. On the way you are bound to enjoy the serene and vast expanse of fields and meadows at Raia as the road leads you to the Rachol seminary.

The Rachol seminary was incidentally a muslim fortress. The Portuguese are known to have first converted it into a church and then transformed part of it into a prison. The Rachol seminary is known to have been built somewhere in between 1570-1580 AD and was an edifice which acquired respect as a centre for studying theology . There is a church inside the seminary which is dedicated to the Jesuit saint Ignatius of Loyola who founded the Jesuit order, a dedication which is maintained till date.

It is recorded that the University of Arts, Science and Technology was established at the rachol seminary by the Capuchins. And in the year 1759, it is said that Archbishop da Silveira declared Rachol as a diocesan Seminary with the title ‘The Good Sheperd’, Bom Pastor.

Records show that the seminary was the house of the the first version of the printing press which was the centre to produce Christian religious literatures. While this press set up by Father Thomas Stevens produced over 16 books ,the most prominent of them was the translation of the gospels to the Indian language. This institution is known to have played an active role in propagating Christianity in Goa since its inception when it used to house a hospital and even a school for the poor along with the college to train the priests. Currently the Seminary has lot of students here not only from Goa but also from various parts of India.

The Rachol seRachol seminary doorminary is known for its very unique architecture.. There is a statue of Saint Constantine, the first Roman Emperor who got converted to Christianity. It is a carved statue made very articulately. Also one cannot help marveling at the the wonderfully carved and gilded main altarpiece. Till recently the seminary used to house the Museum of Christian Art that displayed the church artifacts collected from all corners of Goa. However the same has now been shifted to Panjim.

The central courtyard of the Rachol Seminary has a huge water tank and is surrounded by pillared walkways. The inside aisles are very wide the seminary and has a very tall height and looks imposing on the inside. The hall of the seminary exhibits some paintings of the Goan high clergy and some Portuguese statesmen.

The Rachol seminary is worth a visit.

Xittuk Goencar

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