Se Cathedral

This is the largest church among the group, and measures 35.36 m high on the façade, 76.2 m long and 55.16 m wide. Built on a raised plinth of laterite, covered with lime-plaster, the church has, besides the main altar, eight chapels alongside the aisles and, six altars in the transept. There is a long nave, two aisles and a transept. A bell tower is located to the southern side of the facade. The nave is barrel-vaulted while the crossing is rib-vaulted. The vault in the nave and the choir are supported by massive pillars, while-the chapels on either side are separated by internal buttresses.

The building is oblong on plan, but has a cruciform layout in the interior. Architecturally, Portuguese-Gothic in style, the exterior of the building is Tuscan and the interior Corinthian. There was a tower on the northern side of the façade, corresponding to the one on the southern side, which collapsed in 1776. The bell in the existing tower is often referred to as the ‘Golden Bell’ on account of its rich sound immortalized in a Portuguese poem.

The main entrance in the façade has Corinthian columns on plinths supporting a pediment containing an inscription in Latin. The inscription records that ink the reign of King Dom Sebastian (AD 1557-1578), this Cathedral was ordered to be erected, the Archbishops and the primates being administrators and that the succeeding kings continued the same at the cost of the Royal Treasury.

Inserted into the two columns supporting the choir are two marble basins having the statues of St. Francis Xavier, while to the right is a chamber containing the baptismal font made in 1532, perhaps brought from the old Cathedral. A large painting of St. Christopher is hung beneath the choir. As one enters, to the left, are four chapels dedicated to Our Lady of Virtues, St. Sebastian, the Blessed Sacrament and Our Lady of Life. To the right, again, are four chapels dedicated to St. Anthony, St. Bernard, the Cross of Miracles and the Holy Ghost.

Of these, the chapels of the Blessed Sacrament and the Cross of Miracles are provided with perforated wooden screens, having a high degree of filigree carving which has transformed wood into the most delicate insinuations of foliage. In the nave are two wooden pulpits projecting from two columns on the right. In the transept are six altars, three on either side of the main altar.

The altars on the right side are those of St. Anna, Our Lady of Doloures and St. Peter, while those on the left are those of Our Lady of Sorrows, Our Lady of Three Necessities and Our Lady of Hope. The arches accommodating four of these altars are decorated with paintings depicting scenes from the lives of the saints.

The main altar is dedicated to St. Catherine of Alexandria. The richly gilded panel shows the martyrdom of the Saint. On either side of the nave is a niche in which are kept the wooden statues of St. Paul/and St. Peter. In the nave, near the altar, to the right is a projecting gallery on which is kept an eighteenth century organ. There are seats for the canon and a throne for the Archbishop in the nave. There is also a richly-carved ebony stand which was originally in the Church of St. Francis of Assisi.


Glided altar of the Blessed Sacrament


Se Cathedral


1 Main Altar

2 Sacristy

3 Altar of Our Lady of Three Necessities

4 Altar of Our Lady of Hope

5 Altar of St. Peter

6 Chapel of St. Doloures

7 Altar of St. Anne

8 Chapel of the Holy Ghost

9. Chapel of the Cross of Miracles

10. Chapel of St. Bernard

11.Chapel of St. Anthony

12.Chapel of Our Lady of Virtues 13.Chapel of St. Sebastian

14.Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament 15.Chapel of Our Lady of Life

16.Altar of Our Lady of Sorrows

To the right is a door that leads to the sacristy, which is a barrel—vaulted structure with a gilded altar showing a church modelled after St. Peter’s Church in Rome.

There are also painting depicting scenes from the life of St. Catherine, besides chests of drawers containing various robes worn on ceremonial occasions.

This church remained under construction for nearly three-four a century beginning from 1562. Ti main body of the church was completed in 1619 and the altars in 1652. The cathedral was built by the Portuguese Government for the Dominicans out of the sale proceeds of the property that escheated to the Government.

Conservation work at Se Cathedral was undertaken for many years by ASI’s Mini Circle, Goa. The dilapidated structure in the residential complex was constructed with seasoned laterite stones in combination mortar. In addition, laterite stones were used to repair the northern bell tower. Teakwood doors and windows were fixed to the ancillary structure in the residential complex of the church. The decorated pillar base mouldings were replastered. The decayed wooden beams, rafters and ceiling planks of the roof above the main altar on the north- west were replaced. A faulty design in the basic structure of the Sé Cathedral was rectified. The old and decayed windows through which rainwater entered the church were replaced and welded mesh fixed. The damaged walls inside the southern bell tower were deplastered and replastered with combination lime mortar mixed with acrylic resin (nafafil). The walls were white-washed as per the original.

The wooden ceiling the northern and southern aisles, which had been damaged, was replaced. The exposed reinforced rods were given a protective coating and plastered as per the original. The plaster over the ceiling and walls of the transepts had weekend and these walls were deplastered and fresh lime-plaster was applied. The exterior walls were painted with waterproof cement paint. The ancient retaining wall built of laterite stones on the northern and eastern sides had been damaged due to vegetational growth and decomposition of stones. The same was reconstructed.


Chapel of the Holy Ghost



Main Altar Se Cathedral


Chapel of the Cross of Miracles


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