Se Cathedral

Weather :

Timings : 7:30 AM - 6:00 PM

Time Required : 1-2 hours

Entry Fee : Free

Built by : Portuguese rulers

Built in : 16th century

Length : 250 ft

Breath : 181 ft

Mass Timings : Weekdays – 7:30 AM and 6:00 PM
Sunday – 7:15 AM, 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM

Tips : Dress modestly. Cover your knees and shoulders

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Se Cathedral, Goa Overview

Se Cathedral, or Sé Catedral de Santa Catarina, is one of the largest churches in Asia and an important church in Goa. Located in Old Goa, it is dedicated to Saint Catherine and is an important centre of the Latin Rite Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Goa and Daman. Se Cathedral is a famous landmark in Goa exhibiting Portuguese-Manueline architectural style.

The Se Cathedral houses the huge Golden Bell which is the biggest bell in Goa and one of the best in the continent. Apparently, the sound of the bell can be heard all over the state. Se Cathedral is simple in its design and consists of 14 altars, each one beautifully and intricately carved. Out of these, the main altar is embellished with gold plated The reredos which illustrates the life of St. Catherine of Alexandria. 

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History of Se Catherdral

The Se Cathedral was built to mark the victory of the Portuguese army under the able leadership of Afonso de Albuquerque over a Muslim army, which eventually led to the capture of Goa in 1510. The decisive day of the war coincided with the feast day of Saint Catherine, hence the cathedral was dedicated to her. The construction of Se Cathedral in Goa started in 1562 during the reign of King Dom Sebastiao and under the guidance of the Archbishops of Goa. Although the bulk of the work was completed by 1619, the main altars were only constructed in 1652, a hundred years after the construction first began. Se Cathedral was consecrated in the year 1640.

Architecture of Se Cathedral

The Se Cathedral is a classical example of the Portuguese-Manueline style of architecture, which was quite famous in the 16th century. Elements of late Gothic architecture, Spanish Plateresque style, Mudejar, Flemish architecture and Italian Urban design. The facade of Se Cathedral is 250 feet (76 m) in length, 181 feet (55 m) in breadth and is built on a laterite plinth. Interestingly, the interior of the cathedral is laid out in the form of a crucifix even though the exterior appears rectangular in shape.

As you enter the threshold of the church, you are welcomed by Corinthian columns supported on plinths which have Latin inscriptions carved on its surface. The interior is beautifully ornamented with reredos above the main altar of Saint Catherine, which itself is gilded. Fifteen communion tables, dedicated to Our Lady of Three Needs, Our Lady of Hope and Our Lady of Anguish and the baptismal font, built in 1532 which was used by St. Francis Xavier are also present here. The nave of Se Cathedral is flanked by four chapels, out of which two have wooden screens embellished with illustrations of beautiful foliage. The right side of the nave has chapels dedicated to Our Lady of Virtues, St. Sebastian, the Blessed Sacrament and Our Lady of Life.

Legend of Saint Catherine of Se Cathedral

Saint Catherine of Alexandria is one of the most revered prophetic saints of the church owing to her incomparable contribution as a philosophical defender of the faith. She is believed to be one of the early women martyrs and is also the patroness of Christian philosophers besides being the patroness of the City of Old Goa, aka Velha Goa or Goa Velha. The legend of Saint Catherine goes that she was born into a noble family of Alexandria and was a well - read girl. She converted from Paganism to Christianity after experiencing a vision of Our Lady, the Madonna and baby.

She was a pioneer in raising her voice against the persecution of the Christians under the Roman Emperor Maxentius. Her arguments were so poignant and logical that Maxentius was unable to counter them and has a committee of 50 philosophers to refute her ideas. However, even the assembly conceded defeat in front of her and professed Christianity as their own faith. Enraged, the Emperor burnt the philosophers alive and condemned St. Catherine to prison. Whilst serving her sentence, Catherine succeeded in converting not only the gaolers but the Emperor’s wife, Valeria Maximilla, as well. It is estimated that she showed the path of Christianity to around 200 people.

As she continued to spread the word of Jesus Christ even under extreme torture and hostile circumstances, her refusal to yield was met with a death sentence by means of being fastened to a spiked breaking wheel. However, as the sentence was being carried out, the wheel broke down leaving the saint unharmed. Thus, the title of 'patroness of the wheel-wrights' was conferred on her. She was finally beheaded, and it is said that angels took her remains, and laid them to rest atop Mount Sinai.

In the Se Cathedral, Saint Catherine adorns a crown depicting her royal birth and has a book in her hands which denotes her impeccable knowledge as she steers a spiked wheel which reflects her martyrdom.

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