The Church of St.Augustine in Old Goa is set away a little from the main cluster of buildings around the central square. Head west up a steep road behind some restaurants and after about 10 minutes you’ll reach an impressive collection of ecclesiastical buildings.
The complex is dominated by the 42m tower of the ruined Church of Augustine, built in 1602 and believed to have been the most impressive decorated of Old Goa’s churches.
The site looks to have been extensively excavated, so there’s plenty of signs to inform you of what’s to see, and the whole area is extremely well maintained.
The church was officially dedicated to Our Lady of Grace and was built bu Augustinian friars on the site of an older church.
Some of the ruinous state is in fact quite recent. Although the main part of the building collapsed in 1842, an impressive facade remained intact until further collapse in 1931. The half remaining tower looks incredibly precarious, as if further collapse is due any minute.
As you wonder around look out for gravestones embedded in the floor of what was the nave, and some wonderful glazed tiles that have been reconstructed to demonstrate how the walls would have looked.
Some of the site that you can’t get to is much overgrown, being reclaimed by nature that really just adds to the atmospheric setting, especially after the monsoon rains.
The Church of St.Augustine is believed to contain the body of Queen Ketevan of Georgia, For refusing to convert to Islam, she tortured and killed on the orders of Shah Abbas I of Persia in 1624, and later canonised by the Georgian Church. Her body was brought here by Augustinian friars and buried, apparently, to the right of an alter – but nobody knows which exact alter that was. I don’t believe any of the recent excavations here have helped solve that particular mystery.
Nearby is the Convent of St.Monica, which has the largest and most out of proportion flying buttresses of any building I have ever seen, they are truly massive ! The interior of the building was being renovated when I was visiting, but has (or will be) a museum of Christian art.
Just across the road is also the Convent and Church of St. John the Good (pictured below), which didn’t seem open when I visited.
I like a good ruin, so the Church of St.Augustine was well worth the short hill walk to visit. If you are visiting Old Goa, make sure you find the time and effort to do so.
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