Sunday, 17 April 2016

St. Agustine Church (1602), Goa - a great monument in ruins

the church of St. Agustine, Goa. www.augnet.org
Tower of the church of St. Agustine, Goa
www.besttoursingoa.com
During the colonial days in 1500s and 1600s when Goa, western coastal area of India, was under the Portuguese rulers, it became an important center of mercantile trades and lots of Portuguese from Portugal moved over to this place of pristine beauty and fine tropical beaches  to start their lives afresh  in a new environment and along with them came numerous Christian preachers who settled down there. The Christian evangelists' main vision was two fold: to build churches for the Portuguese community whose number was swelling every month and to spread the Gospel of Christ among the natives. They had a misconception at that time that the culture of natives was far inferior than theirs which subsequently in the later periods landed them in serious trouble. 
Goa has numerous, impressive churches of beauty and grandeur built during the colonial periods. Many of them have survived to day, but some  have crumpled due to ravages of time, negligence and poor maintenance. 

 On the Holy Hill (Monte Santo), Goa  stands a beautiful church building in ruins, that, perhaps, might have  witnessed Goa's past glory and colonial rulers' heyday, but now it a  sad and silent reminder of a fallen colonial era. The forty six meter high colossal four storied arched belfry tower  made  of laterite, not only formed part of the facade of the church of St. Augustine facing east, but also dominated the sky line once upon a time. The church and the tower were built in  1602 by the  St. Augustinian Friars. Unfortunately all that is left today of this once famous church is the 46m-high tower, which served as a belfry. One can see the damaged parts of eight chapels, four altars and extensive convent with many cells.

The Friars of Augustinian Order settled in Goa in 1572 and they had built on the holy hill  a large convent - a three-story building  with large stairways to reach the upper levels. The huge building included corridors, two cloisters, pillars, galleries and halls with many rooms, besides infirmary and guest house. Dormitories were also part of the building complex. It was well planned and executed building. That nothing is permanent in this world is quite true in the case of this church. All the above mentioned parts of the buildings are in ruins and restoration to its original form is very tough task.
St. Agustine, Goa.www.exoticgoa.co.in
According to the records the church  dedicated to "Our lady of Grace" was under the control of  the Augustinian order till 1835. It was in 1835 the church complex with a sprawling vault - roof was marked out for demolition in the wake of expulsion of the religious orders from Goa. Between 1842-46 the church's huge vault collapsed and soon the religious articles were either sold or transferred to other  places of worship.  As for the huge  bell from the tower,  it was removed, then  initially taken to Fort Aguada and later in 1871 was shifted to the Church of Our lady of Immaculate Conception in Panaji, where it can be seen (and heard) today.
ruins of st augustine back to top church of ste
www.goacentral.com
As  a consequence of partial demolition of huge vault, natural process of weathering and decay under different climatic conditions, the facade of the church, including the 46  meters  tall tower  again  collapsed  in  1938. The ASI - Archaeological survey of India  since 1998  has been seriously clearing the ruins, applying new scientific  conservation methods  to  restore  the  historical site to back to past glory.

Ref:
http://exoticgoa.co.in/st-augustine-tower-old-goa.php
http://www.lonelyplanet.com/india/goa/old-goa/sights/historic/ruins-church-st-augustine#ixzz