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Built by the colonial Portuguese rulers, the Se Cathedral is one of the oldest and most celebrated religious buildings in Goa. It is situated 15 km away from Old Goa. The church is the prestigious seat of the archdiocese of Goa. It is also one of the largest churches in Asia at over 76m long and 55m wide.
The church was built to commemorate the victory of the Portuguese under Afonso de Albuquerque over a Muslim army, leading to the capture of the city of Goa in 1510. This was dedicated to St. Catherine of Alexandria, on whose feast, the Portuguese scored their decisive victory. It is also known as Chapel of St Catherine and St Catherine’s Cathedral.
The Cathedral took almost 80 years for completion. The original facade was built by Afonso de Albuquerque in 1510 as an act of gratitude at having beaten the forces of Bijapur. Initially, it was a mud structure and a stone chapel was erected by the then Governor George Cabral in 1550. The actual construction began in 1562 under the reign of King Dom Sebastião. The Cathedral was finally completed in 1619 and was consecrated in 1640.
The Church is built in the Portuguese Gothic Style with Tuscan style on the exterior and Corinthian style inside. The main facade faces East with two towers, one of which collapsed in 1776 and was never rebuilt. The remaining one has a huge bell known as the Golden Bell, the largest bell in Asia renowned for its rich tone.
It has a barrel vaulted ceiling and it has eight chapels and fifteen altars dedicated to several identities like Our Lady of Hope, Our Lady of Anguish and Our Lady of Three Needs and so on. Near the St. Joseph Altar, there is a slab covering the bones of Dom Gaspar de Leao Pereira, the first Archbishop of Goa.
The main altar has carved frames depicting scenes from the life and martyrdom of St. Catherine and a majestic crucifix.
Apart from the main altar, there are 4 chapels on either side of the nave, on the right, is the chapel of the Cross of Miracles, where a vision of Christ is said to have appeared in 1919, and the Holy Spirit; on the left to Nossa Senhora De Necessidades, the Blessed Sacrament and Nossa Senora de Boa Vida.
To its left stood the Senate building and to its right
the Palace of the Inquisition, both of which have completely ruined. Over
16,000 cases were heard between 1561 and 1774.