Christian Art Musuem - Old Goa

Christian art musuem, old goa

Tabernacle cum Monstrance in the form of a Pelican 17th Century

The Museum of Christian Art founded in 1994, was initially located in the Seminary of Rachol, Salcete, Goa is now relocated within the precincts of the Convent of Santa Monica in the vicinity of the Old Goa World heritage monuments.

The Museum houses a very important and unique collection of Christian art objects spanning from the 16th century to the middle of the 20th century. Recognised the world over as a perfect symbiosis of two cultural manifestations, Indian and Portuguese, these Indo-Portuguese Christian art objects besides their antiquity are known for their Indian (predominantly Hindu) contribution and whether ivory, silverware, woodwork or embroidered liturgical vestments, they are all of surprising richness and perfection.

The Portuguese who arrived in Goa in 1510, brought along with them religious orders who came with the purpose of evangelisation. Churches like the Basilica of Bom Jesus, Sé Cathedral and the Mosteiro da Santa Monica in Old Goa were erected by these missionaries who also introduced masterpieces of Christian sculptures in ivory, wood, clay depicting images of Christ on the cross, of Virgin Mary under different invocations, of saints and angels. Local artists, silver smiths, gold smiths, wood carvers were often asked to copy these objects and consciously or unconsciously they began to superimpose their own Indian artistic style on these European objects of art.

The Museum is in pleasant surroundings and the added attractions are the Garden cafeteria serving tea, coffee and soft drinks and "Step Inn" the Museum shop where one can pick up handmade stationary, icons, postcards and books on Goa.

The Museum is open to the public 7 days a week (Monday – Sunday) from 09.30 hours to 17.00 hours. The Entrance Fees are priced at Rs. 30/- per Adult, Rs. 10/- per Student. Children below the age of 12 years – Free.

Some photographs of the unique collection of Christian art objects

St. Ursula 16th -17th Century

This beautiful painting of St. Ursula part of the Museum’s collection, once adorned the walls of the famous Se Cathedral of Old Goa. St. Ursula is identified by an arrow in one hand, and a palm frond in the other. (Both attributes of a martyr saint). She is draped in a rich red mantle with a golden border, gem encrusted crown and a linear halo around her face. The painting has a gilded red decorative frame.

According to legend, Ursula was the daughter of a British King, and was promised in marriage to a pagan ruler, upon whom the sovereign had imposed the condition that he convert to Christianity. On her way back to the British Isles after her wedding her caravan was attacked by Huns driven by hatred of the Christian faith. The princess and her maidens-in-waiting were detained in Cologne, where they were all killed with arrows.

The Good Shepherd 17th Century

The image of Jesus the Good Shepherd exhibited in the Museum is carved out of ivory. One can see a young shepherd boy in a sheepskin seated on a highly decorated pedestal. From the upper level, a face juts out from whose mouth the water of life gushes out into a basin, from which birds of paradise drink. In the middle level sheep are seen grazing and moving about enjoying their pasture. On the lower level one see the figure of a penitent performing penance in a cave.

St. Margaret of Antioch 17th Century

Born in Antioch, St. Margaret was an early convert to Christianity, despite being the daughter of a pagan priest. After refusing to renounce her faith by marrying a Roman, she was subject to a series of persecutions which ended in her imprisonment and martyrdom. Shut up in a caravan guarded by a dragon, which she deemed to be the devil, she eventually overcame it through force of prayer and by making the sign of the cross. The dragon thus came to be associated with the martyr.

The reliquary bust of St. Margaret exhibited in the Museum is represented with a well defined cavity in her chest (meant to keep a relic). She wears elaborate clothing. Her hair is curled and she wears a crown on her head. In front of the saint, a mythical animal lies upside down (probably a dragon).

Elephant tusk 20th Century

Image Crown 18th Century

Holy Family 20th Century - Ivory

Chalice and Paten 17th Century

Our Lady of the Rosary 18th Century

Our Lady of the Rosary 18th Century

Bible 18th Century

Bracelet 20th Century

Incense Boat 17th Century

Reliquary Monstrance 17th Century



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