Statue of Abbé Faria

Monument in Panaji

Beside the Secretariat Building, look out for the sublime, starkly black statue of a caped man, arms, hands and fingers outstretched, towering over an apparently frightened woman. This is the statue of Abbé Faria, considered the ‘father of modern hypnotism’, a contemporary of Franz Mesmer (from where the term 'mesmerise' derives) and a native of Goa.

Born the son of a monk and a nun in a Candolim mansion in 1756, Abbé Faria is one of history’s fabulously enigmatic figures, having hovered handsomely on the sidelines of the greatest events of the 18th century and flirted with its main players (the Portuguese royal family, Robespierre, Marie Antoinette and Napoleon among them), somehow ingratiating himself with every successive regime while remaining an elusive outsider, caught in a world of black magic and esoteric pursuits. He was considered to be at the forefront of modern hypnotism for his explanations, and belief in, the power of suggestion – uncharted territory at the time.