Built in 1661 by Italian friars of the Theatine order, the Church of St. Cajetan is located half a kilometer away from Se Cathedral in Old Goa. Originally called as the Church of Divine Providence, it is believed to have been modelled on the original designs of the Basilica of St. Peter in Rome. The church has a pearly white exterior and is one of the landmarks of the capital city. Although the church is dedicated to Our Lady of Divine Providence, but it has been named after its founder, St. Cajetan, a contemporary of St. Francis Xavier. As of now, it has been included among the World Heritage Site, Churches and convents of Goa.
History of Church of St. Cajetan
In 1639, three Italian priests of the order of Theatine arrived in Goa with the intention to preach Christianity. They were, however, banished in 1643 by a Portuguese Viceroy while they were working in a hospital. The leader of the trio then, went to Portugal to seek prior permission from the Portugal king John IV and convinced him that all their preaching was in the interest of Christianity. He not only managed to convince him about this but also got the king to agree to build a hospital which got completed by 1650. Later in 1655, they also set up this church and a small convent near it.
Architecture of Church of St. Cajetan
The Church has been built in a typical Corinthian style of architecture which resembles the St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. A massive dome sits on the building which is shaped like a Greek Cross. The interior of this dome has elaborate inscriptions from the Gospel of Matthew. It has four granite sculptures of Saints Peter, Paul, John the Evangelist and Matthew outside. Besides, the church houses seven altars- St. Clare, the Holy family, Our Lady of Piety, St. Agnes, St. John and St. Cajetan, while the main altar is dedicated to Our Lady of Divine Providence. The hall has a raised platform at the centre which has a well which has now been covered. The presence of this well has also led to doubts about the church being a temple originally.