The largest church in Goa and the seat of the Archdiocese of Goa and Daman, this huge white Portuguese Gothic structure was constructed from 1562 to 1619 to commemorate a Portuguese military victory over Goa that was won on the feast of Saint Catherine. Inside, images of the saint adorn the cathedral walls.
A monument to Portuguese military might, this gargantuan white edifice contains gorgeous interiors full of religious art and relics. Among these is the Cross of Miracles, where some visitors have had visions of Christ on the cross. The cathedral also houses a bell tower with the largest bell in the state. Many travelers come as part of an organized tour to learn as much as possible about the cathedral’s architecture, artworks, and history.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Visitors are expected to dress modestly, with clothing that covers their shoulders and knees.
- If you visit during Mass, be respectful to worshipers and do not take photos, converse, or walk around.
- The church is a must-visit for anyone with an interest in history or architecture.
How to Get There
St. Catherine’s Cathedral is a popular stop on most tours of Goa that focus on churches or Portuguese colonial history. Those traveling independently will need to get to Old Goa, where the cathedral is located; doing so requires a 20-minute drive or taxi ride from Panaji (the state capital), or about 40 minutes’ drive from Calangute.
When to Get There
The cathedral is open every day, from 7:30am to 6pm. Mass is held in the local language, Konkani, at 5:30am Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday; at 7:30am Thursday; and at 5pm Tuesday and Friday. Sunday services take place at 7:20am and 10am, and again at 4pm.
Who was St. Catherine?
Considered a Great Martyr by those following the Eastern Orthodox tradition, St. Catherine was a Christian princess and a scholar who was killed around age 18 at the hands of Emperor Maxentius, a pagan (though some believe her story comes from a revised telling of the story of the pagan Neoplatonic philosopher Hypatia). There are many legends surrounding the saint, and Joan of Arc claims that Catherine visited her in a vision.