Tuesday 18 June 2024

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Society | Heritage

Goan Churches to get a face lift


Several churches across Goa are heading for a massive restoration, a job undertaken once in 50-60 years.

The lifespan of interiors and antiquities in these churches built during Portuguese colonial rule in Goa, has entered a phase where they require huge upkeep.

The restoration of wooden altars and gold-plated antiquities is mandated every 50-60 years, according to experts.

The church authorities are employing restoration experts who are working on these major projects.

“A protective coat needs to be given for altars while the interior design has several gold plate carvings which wither with time,” Sadashiv Parab, working as a modeller with Goa State Museum, said.

Four generations of Parabs have been working tirelessly for restoring paintings, antiquities and wooden altars in churches.

Goa has 180-odd churches and chapels spread across almost every corner of the state, which has 27 % Catholic population.

As per information available from Goa State Museum, each of the religious orders has its own style of architecture and motif.

“A typical church square generally has one or more piazza (square) cross, a Cristo Rei (Christ the King) monument and a grotto to our Lady. The square is often bounded by fourteen crosses of the via sacra (way of the cross),” a senior official said.


Goan churches belonging to 16th century era have undergone restoration several times, but post-liberation (1961), this is for the first time such an extensive exercise has been taken up.

Altars are cleaned, dusted and given protective coating so that they are not spoilt.

Mr Parab, who is trained by International Conservators of Rome, said that most of the churches require renovation now as they have lived for half a century after the last restoration.

Fr Mousinho de Ataide from Goa’s first Church, built in 1514, conceded that the restoration is a concern for parishioners and priests across the state.

Fr Ataide is a priest in Church of St John de Evangelist at Neura village near here, which is the first known Church to be built during Portuguese rule.

“The upkeep and restoration is a concern for the parishioners as these Manueline styles of architecture needs proper care. They are vast,” he said.

The parishioners collect money for restoration and up-gradation in every church while Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has been maintaining the Churches at Old Goa World Heritage Monument complex, he added.

The state government does not have a scheme for restoration of churches, he said, adding that the concern is more for churches where number of parishioners are very less.

Radha Bhave, Director, Goa State Museum, said that they have started documenting various churches with their background, so that there will be proper record about their history and existence.

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The suit property where the Church authotiy wants to construct saying "NOvi Igorj novea zagear" is meaningless and just to fool the innocent parihioners which is handiwork of some "Vested interest"who are out to destroy the religious fabric. The suit land in question is under stay vide Judgment and Order dated 12th October, 2000 which attracts the directions of the Hon~ble High Court in Writ Petition No. 71 and 168/2000 wherein the applicant was ordered to stop the construction/conversion immediately under survey no.40/1 to 40/20 of village Quepem. This order was passed in the year 2000 and thereafter an attempt was made in the year 2011 by the Fabrica de Igreja de Quepem to recall back the Order passed in the year 2000 which was rejected by the Addl. Collecto South vide Judgment dated 15th March, 2012.

Agnelo A. Fernandes , Quepem

Page 2. Continuation: However without clarifying the doubts the Parish Priest now as President of Fabrica de Igreja Quepem filed Appeal before the Pr.Revenue Secretary, Govt. of Goa, Bardez who fixed the hearing on 28th May, 2013

Agnelo A. Fernandes , Quepem

Quepem Church is not listed in the list of Heritage maintained by the Directorate of Art and Culture and he has responded to us under RTI vide letter dated 15/12/2010 that "The Holy Cross Church, Quepem is not a protected monument under Goa Ancient Monuments and Archaelogical Sites and Remains Act, 1978 and Rules 1980."

The Secretary of Indian Heritage when contact and shown our restoration plan gave us a letter stating that "THe new plan showed the facade as well as the main altar unaltered. Hence, in this particular case, we see no objection for the committee in charge to go ahead with the work" vide letter dated 15/12/2009.

This land attracts the directions given in the Writ Petition No.71/2000 and 168/2000 wherein the Revenue Authorities are directed to stop all the construction that are going on wherein the names of the tenants are figuring as per the survey records as on 2nd November, 1990. These names from the tenants column were clandestinely deleted by filing an application under Section 103 LRC which has no powers to correct the clerical errors as the Govt. circular says that " such cases do not come under the ambit of clerical error and if so desired the party has to file a Civil Suit for deletion of the entries from the Record of Rights.

The Parish Priest again filed an Application dated 2/3/2011 to recall back the Stay Order passed by the Dy. Collecto Quepem however the same was dismissed vide Judgment & Order dated 15th March, 2012.

Again keeping the Collector in dark the Parish Priest Fr. Mario Vaz filed another application for conversion in his individual capacity vide his application dated 4th May, 2012 which was again rejected on the grounds that " The applicant has not taken any interest to obtain the reports from the Town Planning Department although more than one month has passed and no positive report received. Hence the application of the applicant is rejected with the liberty to file fresh application once the doubt raised by the Town & Country Planning Department is clarified.

Agnelo A. Fernandes , Quepem