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Chapel of St Catherine of Alexandria
 · Easy Activity



Age Group:
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Easy Activity
Not Applicable
Mon – Sun
1-2 hrs. (suggested)
Jan to Dec
Jun To Feb
Old Goa
Panjim, Goa
Summer: 30°C – 40°C
Winter: 20°C – 25°C

At a distance of 9 km from Panjim Kadamba Bus Stand, 27 km from Vasco Da Gama Railway Station and 23 km from Mapusa, The Chapel of St. Catherine is situated in Old Goa part of North Goa. This place is part of UNESCO World Heritage Site (Churches & Convents of Goa).

The Chapel of St. Catherine is located in the west of St. Francis of Assisi Church and is dedicated to St. Catherine. It was built by Alfanso De Albuquerque in 1510 when he defeated the local Muslim ruler Adil Shah on St. Catherine’s Day that is 25th November 1510. In 1534 the chapel was granted cathedral status by Pope Paul III. It was enlarged in 1550 by the Portuguese Governor George Cabral and rebuilt in 1952 using laterite blocks.

Courtesy: DonsEye

The Chapel was built in Renaissance style architecture. The Chapel with a pale yellow exterior is built with laterite stones and plaster with lime mortar and has a tower on either side. The Chapel interior has only one altar which is plain. On one side of the Chapel is a stone inscription in Portuguese. The Chapel has rectangular window panes of the Old Portuguese style dressed in mica shells. As you enter the chapel, you will see a statue of Our Lady. There is also a beautiful altar dedicated to St. Catherine upon which stands another statue of Our Lady of Peity. It houses a beautifully gilded altar, various artworks, paintings depicting the story of St Catherine of Alexandria and an art gallery.

One belief states that St. Catherine was born in the 4th century to a noble family in Alexandria, Egypt. She became Christian as a teenager and was martyred by a pagan emperor Maxentius. At first, he ordered her to be tortured on a wheel, however the wheel immediately broke when she touched it. She was beheaded instead.

According to another belief, St. Catherine’s body was carried by angels to Mount Sinai, and a church and monastery were constructed in her memory in the 6th century.

A church dedicated to St. Catherine was also built in Bethlehem. It is a Catholic church and Franciscan monastery located in the complex of the Nativity Church, over the area of the grottowhere Jesus Christ was born.

According to local tradition, the church stands on the spot of Christ’s appearance to St. Catherine of Alexandria around 310 AD.

Crusaders also built a cloister and a monastery which they gave to the Canons of St. Augustine and which in 1347 became a Franciscan convent.

The present building consists of a nave and two aisles. It incorporates remains of the 5th-century sanctuary related to the St. Jerome and the parts of 12th-century Crusader church, which are clearly visible particularly in the courtyard.

In 1882, the monastery was rebuilt with financial help of the Emperor of Austria. In 1948, the Church of St. Catherine was restored again by the famous architect Antonio Barluzzi, who also designed many other churches of the Holy Land including the Church of the visitation in Ein Karem. His magnificent reconstructive work can be mainly seen in the 12th-century Cloister of St. Jerome surrounding the entrance to the Latin church. Its design is in keeping with the original medieval architecture.

A beautiful stained glass window featuring a Nativity scene was installed above the main altar in 2000. And just recently, in the summer of 2013, the main altar of the church was shifted backward to create more space for believers. This change gives a chance for more pilgrims to be present on the Christmas Eve Mass on the night of 24th of December, which is broadcasted annually around the world.

There are stairs on the right side of the main nave that lead down to the grotto which is divided on a number of chapels. Those include the Chapel of St. Jerome, who devoted his life to translating the Bible into Latin language – Vulgate; Chapel of the Holy Innocents, which commemorates the children killed by Herod the Great and the Chapel of St. Joseph that reminds us of his dream in which an angel warned him to escape to Egypt. 

There is also a passage leading to the Nativity Grotto, tho it is usually closed. But the grotto can be viewed by a keyhole in the door.

Every year around 25th of November there are planned special liturgical events for the Feast of the St. Catherine which will take place in Bethlehem, in the church dedicated to her.

Summer (April – September): 6:30 am – 7:30 pm / Sun. morning: grotto is closed

Winter (October – March): 5 am – 5 pm / Sun. morning: grotto is closed

The Sunday masses at 7:30 am, 9 am, and 11 am in the St. Catherine Church are usually held in Arabic.

Old Goa is near about 9 kms from the capital city of Panaji. From Panaji, one can always hire locally running taxis, autos and buses to this part of the state. Same can also be said about the other nearby places to Se Cathedral as well.

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