History books say that Goa was conquered by the Portuguese on 25th November, 1510 AD, and that the Portuguese rule lasted for 451 years till 19th December 1961 AD. Is it true? Yes and No, for the whole of Goa as it is today, was not conquered by the Portuguese in a day.

Figure 70 (a) –The Old Conquests coloured

The Portuguese conquered the Tiswaddi (Ilhas) taluka on 25th November 1510 AD, as we have seen in the previous Chapter. It is said that in 1530, Vijayanagar had already conquered the other two talukas of Bardez (Bara-des) and Salcete (Saxtti) and offered them to the Portuguese; but the Portuguese again lost them to Ismael Adil Shah three years later. Ismael died in 1534. His eldest son Mallu (Meale) succeeded his father. He was accused of being in the company of evil habits. Punji Khatun, Mallu’s paternal grand-mother with the help of her general Asad Khan, deposed Mallu and declared his younger brother Ibrahim Adil Shah I as the king. Mallu (Meale), however, tried to resist, but lost the contest; therefore, he sought asylum with the Portuguese in Goa and ceded to them his inheritance: Bardez and Salcete, as the price of protection. After efforts at re-conquest by the Bijapur forces, these two talukas came firmly into the grip of the Portuguese in 1543 AD, until, by the treaty of 1571, they were definitely integrated into their colonial territories1. Thus Tiswaddi (Ilhas), Bardez and Salcete became the Old Conquests (Velhas Conquistas) of the Portuguese in Goa. These three Concelhos (Talukas) were the only territory under the Portuguese dominion till about 1788. The New Conquests came much later as we shall see in section 4 of this Chapter.


With the Portuguese conquest came the Religious orders to work in the vast areas of the entire East. The Franciscans were the first to land in Goa in 1510, followed by the Jesuits led by St. Francis Xavier in 1542 AD, the Dominicans in 1548 AD and other Religious Orders later on. They made efforts to spread the message of Christ in various small pockets which came under Portuguese influence or trade, from Mozambique in Africa to Japan in the Far East and were entrusted to them for missionary work.

The Franciscan Order was founded by St. Francis Assisi in 1209 at Assisi in Italy. At times this founder was so strongly attracted to prayer that he began to doubt whether his order should be an active one or a contemplative one as the other orders had been before him. Though he finally opted for the first alternative, he did not forbid the second. Hence some of his followers started erecting hermitages (retiros in Portuguese). These developed later on in the Order of the Franciscan Capuchos (like the Capuchins of today). They were also known as Recollectos, Descalcos and Reformados, in Portuguese.

Those Franciscans who came first to Goa, were the active ones; in 1518 they built their first friary (house) in honour of St Francis of Assisi at Old Goa and were active in Tiswaddi. When the other Orders, mentioned above, came to Goa, the Portuguese Governor of Goa in 1555, sent the Franciscans to Bardez, the Jesuits to Salcete and parcelled out Tiwaddi, giving 15 villages in the north-western sector to the Dominicans and the remaining 15 in the south-eastern sector to the Jesuits. These three Orders then built the village Churches, in their respective jurisdiction.

The Franciscan contemplatives (Capuchos), came to Goa later and established their first Friary at Daugim in 1569; this became their “Mother of God” province after 1622. In contrast the Franciscan actives had their “St Thomas” Province with headquarters at St Francis Assisi Monastery, today the ASI Museum in Old Goa. The above “Mother of God” Province had besides Daugim, the Friary of Our Lady of Cape (today the Cabo Raj Bhavan – the official residence of the Governor of Goa), the Pilar Monastery, as their Formation House, the Hospice of Our Lady of Angels at Rachol in Salcete and the Friary of Our Lady of Fountains (Brotas), at Anjediva Islands. They also had Friaries in Daman, Diu and Macau in China2.

Figure 70 (b) – Map of Padroado Archdiocese of Goa

Meanwhile under the Patronage (Padroado) of the King of Portugal, in 1533/34, the diocese of Goa was created commencing at Cape of Good Hope (South Africa), comprising the whole of the Eastern world, including India and China and all the islands and lands already discovered as well as those yet to be discovered where the Portuguese would build fortresses and live with other Christians3. In 1557, Goa was raised to an Archdiocese. The Portuguese went up to Japan and with them slowly, the above religious orders and those who came later as the Augustinians and Carmelites, spread the Christian faith wherever they were sent, with base in Goa. Thus Goa became the centre of the Church of the entire East.

However, since Church and State worked hand in hand, under the Padroado system, the Church edifices with their endowments as well the maintenance of missionaries were met from State funds and so naturally it came to be a colonially dominated Church.

In Goa territory, assemblies of village representatives (ganvkars) were held, from time to time, to convince the non-Christians, by persuasive methods, to accept Christianity, but the Portuguese officers did not succeed in this venture; on the contrary, the missionaries encountered stiff opposition from the higher castes. So, in 1541, laws were promulgated in Tiswaddi taluka, to obtain a type of coercive conversion.

At one such assembly, (held probably in 1536), it was resolved that the performance of the rites and ceremonies in the temples should continue, side by side with those in the Churches that were being built. Francisco Paes writes, “When the King D. Joao III was informed, that many of the inhabitants of Ilhas were becoming Christians, others were firm in their gentile beliefs, but that in their assemblies both the Christians and the non-Christians had agreed that the performance of the rites and ceremonies in the temples, where the non-Christians worshipped, be continued, the King ordered that “these temples be demolished and that not one be left in the whole island of Goa and its limits; nor should the gentiles be allowed to perform any gentile ceremony in the land under our dominion, so that by this merciful rigour they would be made to forget the gentile cult and be converted to our holy faith as had happened and was happening to many who had already been converted”.4

On 30th June 1541 came the first provision of this law5. This order was immediately carried out and in the same year most of the temples in Tiswaddi were demolished.6 On 27-2-1566, the same Order was applied by the Viceroy to the temples of Bardez7 and in 1567 to Salcete by the Captain of the Fort of Rachol with the approval of the Viceroy8. Temples were, in fact, broken only in the Old Conquests, not anywhere else in Goa or in other places.


St. Francis Xavier landed in Goa in May 1542 and died on the borders of China in the beginning of December 1552. Xavier seems to have had no hand in the above, as before his arrival, the temples in Ilhas had already been destroyed; and 14 years after his death, was the order of the King, to destroy the temples, applied to Bardez and Salcete. The Inquisition was introduced in Goa in 15609, which is, 8 years after Xavier’s death. It has, no doubt, written the blackest pages of Goa’s history, but not during Xavier’s lifetime. He cannot be blamed for its atrocities, as many suppose. Xavier had a delicate conscience, a high sense of morality and concern for others, especially the poor and the new converts. The Portuguese officers stooped so low in his estimation that, in several letters to the King of Portugal, Xavier complained about their misbehaviour. In his letter dated 27-1-1545 he wrote that their motto and goal was, “I plunder, thou plunderest (in latin: rapio, rapis)” In other words, he says, “I am amazed to see how those coming here (from Europe) manage to find such number of moods, tenses and particles to this their wretched verb (to plunder)”10. In his letter dated 26-1-1549, he condemns the fidalgos, captains and officers for inflicting on the new converts ill-treatment and sufferings to satisfy their lust for bodily pleasure, power and wealth, instead of helping them as they ought to11. It was to bring these officers to book that Xavier suggested to the King to send the Inquisition, which was established after his death, and in the words of Pope Clement X, exceeded the limits of its powers12. St Francis Xavier sought to go to Japan and China because there at least the Portuguese would not be able to disgrace the Christian name13, murky renegades as they were, prepared to sell out one’s soul to the devil for a fanan.14 He was sure that certain types of empires and certain kinds of officials would have no place there.


The Portuguese had conquered only Bardez, Ilhas and Salcete in Goa and made the city of Ela (today’s Old Goa), the capital of their possessions and their commercial emporium in the East. Elsewhere they had opened trading centres, with the permission of local rulers, and dotted the coastline of Asia with small forts to protect these centres of trade. They had no ambition to grab territories like the British and the French. If their possessions were attacked they would defend themselves but they had nowhere to take refuge in case of defeat.


The Portuguese monopoly in the East was challenged by the Dutch in 1600; by 1615, the English and later on the French began making inroads into their possessions so that the Portuguese empire began to crumble and the Padroado Missions began to suffer. To remedy the situation the Pope created the Sacred Congregation of Propaganda (1622), to look after these abandoned missions, but the Padroado authorities refused to cede their jurisdiction.


To add to these woes, the Portuguese civil authorities themselves became Free Masons and Atheists and in 1759 due to some flimsy internal problems, suppressed the Jesuits in Portugal and in all colonies. Then due to a civil war in Portugal, all the other Religious Orders too were suppressed in 1835.


275 years after the Portuguese stepped in, their Goa territory was enlarged by 1791, with the conquest and addition of 7 more Concelhos (Talukas), called the New Conquests ( see figure 70a – namely Pernem, Sanquelim, Satari Ponda, Sanguem, Kepem and Canacona); the first three were conquered from the Marathas (Bhonsles) and the last four from the Raja of Sonda, a local dynasty which had succeeded the Bijapur Sultanate after its eclipse in 1686.

After neglecting these territories for about a century, the Portuguese Government only in 1881 published a decree, reorganizing the New Conquests15 giving the above mentioned names to those new Concelhos (Talukas). Most of the old names were different and some were amalgamated, as follows:

The Bhonsles gave up Pernem by the Treaty of 29th January 1788 along with Satari and Bicholim. But Bicholim (formerly Betagrama) had first been conquered in 1746 along with Satari. However, the Portuguese had lost both and reconquered Bicholim in 1781 and Satari in 1782. The Ponda taluka (Antruz) had come under the Portuguese, by virtue of the Treaty of 17th January 1791. By the same treaty, this king of Sonda granted the Portuguese, the rights he had to his five Provinces of Zambaulim (Panch Mahal), namely: Emberbecem and Astragar (later amalgamated into Sanguem Taluka), Zambaulim and Cabo de Rama (later amalgamated into Quepem taluka), and Advota (later named Canacona Taluka)16. Hence, the whole of Goa cannot be said to have been under the Portuguese for 451 years, but only Tiswaddi; of the other talukas, Bardez and Salcete were for 428 years; the other Talukas for much lesser period of time, not more than 170 years.

Figure 70 (c) – Mangoes

The discovery of the sea-route to India from Europe via the Cape of Good Hope (southern most point of Africa) in 1498, with its advent of the Portuguese in the Indian Ocean and the subsequent conquest of Goa in 1510, was an encounter between the East and the West, which opened new vistas to the entire world, an era of exchange of many good things, among nations and peoples, hitherto unknown to one another. When speaking about the freedom struggle, however, many a time, the good aspects of the encounter of civilizations and its missionary contributions to ecology, science and development tend to be overlooked, while the negative aspects of the impact of colonialism on the local and native cultures tend to be over-emphasised. However, these encounters have left their own imprint on both sides of the encountering cultures and civilizations

The missionaries excelled in the field of agriculture. They introduced a variety of plants and fruit bearing trees from Africa, South America and the Far East into Goa and Kerala.

Jesuit missionaries taught Goan families to make mango grafts which produced a variety of mangoes, which initially carried the names of both Christian and Hindu families that developed them: Afonso, Musrad, Malgesh, Malkurad, Fernandina, Coler, Colaso, Costa, Dourado, Raposo, etc.

Figure 70 (d) The Caju tree and fruit (apple)

The most diffused of the trees is the Caju tree with the first seeds brought by the missionaries from Brazil, where it is named acaju. Its scientific name is anacardium occidentale, (also called Cashew, Kaz, Kazu). The result was an extensive plantation of Caju groves, thanks to the efforts of these missionaries, on the hills, plateaux and highlands of Goa, side by side with the coconut groves in the lowlands.

Figure 70 (e) Diffusion of Coconut Plantations

The coconut, although original to Goa, was widely diffused, thanks to a Jesuit missionary who wrote a book “Arte Palmarica”.

This book led to the diffusion and extensive plantation of coconut palm groves, not only in Goa but also in Mangalore, Kerala, the Coromondel Coast, Ceylon, Indonesia, Malaysia and elsewhere, wherever the Portuguese presence was felt for a considerable length of time. Both the caju and the coconut plantations enabled Goans to develop their own techniques of extraction of wine – both urrac and fenny from both, the coconut toddy and theCaju apple, which brought in a whole class of toddy tappers (render and kazkar), a lucrative trade in these beverages, as well as cash products as coconut kernel out of which coconut oil is extracted, and dry processed caju seeds, which are much in demand as an exquisite item of export, providing the best prospects of profitable export trade for Goa17. Let us repeat it again, there is no doubt that these eastern countries, had coconut plantations from times immemorial but their extensive cultivation may have resulted from the ‘Arte Palmarica’.

Figure 70 (f) – Chickoo tree and fruit

Besides the Caju plants, Mr Mariano Saldanha mentions the names of 48 more varieties that were introduced in India by the missionaries and the Portuguese.18 One more of such is the Chiku (in Konkani, Chickoo in English, scientific name Achras Sapota of the family of Sapotaceas), brought from South America or West Indies by missionaries and planted in India (Figure 70c). The pictures of plants given in this section are from the Pilar Hillock.

Figure 71 – A Thrishul like Candlestick

At the initial stage, the Portuguese rulers followed repressive policies not only against Muslims and Hindus but also against the old Christians, (as seen in Chapter 3, section 3 of this book and section 3 above). In spite of that, a deep sense of camaraderie has prevailed among the Goans. The initial antagonism gave rise to cooperation when Hindu and Christian artists were employed in the construction and furnishing of the Churches, built in Goa. Indian artists got new ideas and new vistas in developing their artistic talents. They put their own mark on Christian artefacts: lotus flowers, Krishna features, Naga (snake) and other symbols.

A Trishul like candlestick in the Pilar Museum (Figure 71) is one such symbol, which also abounds in the Church pulpits and statues19. More examples of this are shown below from the Pilar Seminary Museum and Church furnishings.

Figure 72 – Child Jesus with Krishna features

A wooden statue of Child Jesus carved by a Hindu artist, under the guidance of a catholic priest, shows Krishna features (Figure 72). Like Krishna, the Child is sitting on a tree; but instead of the flute, the artist has shown the globe and the skull in his hands.

Jesus thus contemplates at the age of seven, how he is going to die on the Cross and save the world from sin. The dress, the curly hair,

the crossed legs and the wooden slippers are all Krishna features. The skull is the symbol of death, and death came because of sin.

Figure 73 – St Mary Magdalene

A granite sculpture depicting St. Mary Magdalene (figure 73) was found hidden in the cave in Pilar shown at figure 29a. It was made in 1733 by Thomas Barreto with the help of his son Joseph Barreto from Concolim, as engraved on the border of the slab. St Mary Magdalene was a great sinner (Lk.8, 2) who changed her life at the bidding of Jesus and followed him till his death on the Cross (Mt.27, 56) and was the first to witness the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus from the dead (Mk.16, 9-10). St Mary Magdalene is depicted doing penance on this sculpture. She is shown fasting, so she is lying flat on the ground, as she cannot stand.

Around her are seen the instruments of penance and meditation: the scourges, a skull, a Gospel book, and a Cross with crown of thorns in her hand. Curiously enough, the sculpture shows the symbols of other religions, then prevalent in Goa. In the artists’ minds, this signifies that like the Hindu Rishis, the Buddhist Bikkus and the Jain Acharyas, Mary Magdalene too did great penances, fasts and meditations. She thus becomes a Bhagwan (saint) like the Hindu Bhagwans. Hence in front of her, is an adapted Shiva Lingam (a Hindu symbol of holiness) and at her feet is the Tree of Enlightenment. The great Buddha meditated under a Bodhi tree for 12 years and was enlightened. So was St. Mary Magdalene, and therefore, the Bodhi tree, the symbol of Buddhism is placed near her feet, which also look like Padukas, another symbol of holiness.

In the clouds above her is seen an angel with bread and water in the hands. The Jewish Prophet Elijah was fed by an Angel and with the strength of the bread and water, he walked for forty days until he reached Mount Horeb, where he encountered God and became a great Prophet (1 Kings. 19:6-16). Likewise Mary Magdalene, who was the first to meet the Lord Jesus after his Resurrection is also a Prophet sent by the Lord to give the good news to his disciples (Apostles).

The half-moon is shown in the form of a thick hallo around her head – a symbol of Muslim religion. The carving depicts the communal harmony that has existed among Goans right from times immemorial. The sculpture was hidden in a cave, perhaps, to avoid its destruction by the Portuguese mischief–mongers. It shows that in spite of the repressive measures of the Portuguese, Christians among Goans, like Thomas Barreto and Joseph Barreto preserved a deep respect and harmony towards their non-Christian brothers and sisters.


Besides, ivory statues, showing both the Child Jesus sitting on a tree, and Mary Magdalene at the bottom, were carved by Hindu artists, ancestors e.g. of the late Waman Zo from Ribandar, and others and were much in demand, and are at present adorning several Museums in European, African and American countries and private collections. Pictures of two of these statues, which have come to our knowledge are shown below with the names of some of the world famous Museums, where they and others are found.

Evidently, the Indian sculptors, be they Christian or not by religious affiliation, retained a deep respect and reverence for the concept of divinity which they instinctively accepted.

Figure 74 (a) Pieces of another Kadamba slab

The original slab, on which St. Mary Magdalene is depicted, appears to be part of a Kadamba pillar.

Figure 74 (b) – Another full slab of Kadamba times

A piece of a similar slab (figure 74(a) was found in the Pilar Tank; and another full slab with identical contours, (Figure 74b) can also be seen in the Museum. It was found in the well below Fr. Agnel Higher Secondary School in Pilar while laying its foundation stone. The figure on it is worn out but seems to be a lady in a sitting posture with a musical instrument in her hands: probably it was the figure of the Hindu deity Saraswati, playing the Veena.

Figure 74 (c) – Blessed Sacrament Slab

Near the Pilar Monastery a granite stone slab, depicting the Blessed Sacrament was found below some trees in the garden. It is a sculpture of the 17th century.


In the construction of the walls of the Churches in Goa, the angles taken for the curvilinear furnishings of the vaults resemble more the stupas and the Indian temples, than their European counterpart which is flat. The reticulations on the exterior walls also carry a lot of Indian motifs, especially in the form of natural flora which are not present in the architectural designs of the Churches in the West. The character of the altar retables too, conforms more to the Indian deities in the temple wood sculptures. Our Padma Bhushan, Dr Jose Pereira, mentioned in Chapter 5, Section 7 (A) (vi) refers to this as the Indian Baroque20, as distinct from the European Baroque. See the figure 75 b in the next Chapter 10.

Figure 74 (d) The Pilar Cross

Jesus died on a wooden Cross. The Cross became the symbol of Christians. However, the rains and weather conditions would not allow wooden crosses to last in the open for a long time. Hence people resorted to stone crosses.

On the Pilar hillock, from 1613 to 1944, there was only one building – the Pilar Monastery – surrounded by thick overgrowth of forest. In the 18th century, because lightning struck the hillock, the Grand Master of the Capuchos ordered a stone Cross to be erected in that place, as an inscription in Portuguese, carved vertically on the Cross, shows. The Cross was mounted about a hundred metres away from the Monastery building, as seen alongside. Its pedestal is a later enlargement, around 1963.

That Cross occupies the central stage among the buildings that came up on the Pilar hillock after 1945, as we shall see in Chapter 13.

Figure 74 (e) – St Valentine

A granite statue was found dumped in a pit by the roadside by Mr Shawn Almeida in Utorda and offered by him to Pilar Museum. It is a rare statue of stone, as most of the statues venerated in the Churches and Christian homes in Goa are made of wood, except those displayed in the niches of the frontispieces of the Churches and Chapels. The pedestal of this statue is broken. It contained the name of the saint. Only two letters of the name are legible “S V” which makes us conjecture that the statue may be depicting St Valentine, the famous priest martyr of the time of the Roman Emperor Diocletian. St Valentine is said to have been a physician. He was imprisoned for giving aid to prisoners, and while there, he converted the gaoler by restoring sight to the gaoler’s daughter. For this he was accused of sorcery and condemned to death. He died beaten and beheaded in about 289 AD at Rome.  There was a Roman pagan custom for men and women to write love letters in mid-February; later on, when Rome was Christianised, this became Valentine’s Day.

1 Rui Gomes Pereira, Hindu Temples and Deities, Print-well Press, Panjim, 1978, p.7

2 Achilles Meersman ,The Franciscan Provinces of India pp. 161`-162

3 D. de Couto, Decada Quinta da Asia, liv. 3, Ch. 8, p. 275, Coimbra, Bibliotheca da Universidade, 1936; George Mark Moraes, op. cit p. 237

4 George Mark Moraes, op. cit p. 233 from which this paragraph is taken. Moraes says that the Order of the King is recorded at the Tombo Geral of Francisco Paes of 1595.

5 Cunha Rivara, Arquivo Portugues Oriental, Imprensa Nacional, 1857-77, Fac. 5, Part 1 p. 174

6 Gaspar Correia, Lendas da India, Lisboa, Tipografia da Academia Real das Ciencias, 1862, Vol. IV, pp. 289-290; Wicki, Documenta Indica I, Rome, 1975, p. 793

7 C. C. de Nazareth, Mitras… op. cit p. 8 speaks of another Order of the King John III dated 8th March 1546 to the Viceroy D Joao de Castro. The words contained in the Order of the King and in the Provisao of Viceroy Antao de Noronha are more or less the same. Also see Achilles Meersmam, op. cit p.105

8 Pe. G. Saldanha, Historia de Goa, Nova Goa, Casa Editora Livraria Coelho, 1925, Vol. II p.251

9 Ibidem, pp.195-198

10 Schurhammer and Wicki, Epistolae… Vol I op. cit p. 282

11 Idem, Vol. II, pp. 60-61

12 Pope Clement X’s brief “Cum lastima ad aures” dated 23-12-1673: Cfr.C. J. Costa, A Missiological Conflict between Padroado and Propaganda in the East, Pilar Publications, 1997, p 48

13 Schurhammer and Wicki, op. cit p.281

14 J Brodrick, St Francis Xavier, Wicklow Press, New York, 1952, p.188. At that time, a fanan was the price of one plump chicken.

15Boletim Official do Governo do Estado da India, No. 9, dated 25/1/1881.

16 Rui Gomes Pereira, op cit. p. 7-84

17 C. J. Costa (this author), Missionary Contribution to Ecology, TAUZ, A journal of Science, Religion and Society by Sangam Publications, Vol. II, No1, May 2008, pp. 51-55.

18 Mariano Saldanha. Oriente Portugues,Vol V – VI, 1908. The above article on TAUZ, gives the details and names of those plants.

19 C. J. Costa, Religious Identities in the Heritage of Govapuri, DECCAN STUDIES, Hyderabad, December2003 Vol. I. No.1 pp. 63 & 66.

20 Dr Jose Pereira, Churches of Goa ,Indo-Baroque Quintet, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2002, pp72-90