Church of Our Lady of the Rosary

Church in Old Goa

Passing beneath the buttresses of the Convent of St Monica, about 250m further along the road is the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary, which stands on the top of a high bluff. It’s one of the earliest churches in Goa; legend has it that Afonso de Albuquerque surveyed the action during his troops’ attack on the Muslim city from this bluff and vowed to build a church there in thanks for his victory.

It’s also thought to be here that St Francis Xavier gave his first sermon upon his arrival in Old Goa. The church, which has been beautifully restored, is Manueline in style and refreshingly simple in design. There are excellent views of the Mandovi River and Divar Island from the church’s dramatic position, but unfortunately the building is frequently locked.

The only ornaments on the outside of the church are simple rope-twist devices, which bear testimony to Portugal’s reliance on the sea. Inside the same is true; the reredos (ornamental screen) is wonderfully plain after all the gold decorating in the churches down in the centre of Old Goa, and the roof consists simply of a layer of tiles. Set into the floor in front of the altar is the tombstone of one of Goa’s early governors, Garcia de Sá, and set into the northern wall of the chancel is that of his wife, Caterina a Piró.