History of Evangelization of Goa:
Christianity was introduced in India
in the apostolic times by St. Thomas
and also by St Bartholomew, although the latter is a controversial point.
However, because of the distance from the other Christian centres, Christianity
did not receive much attention.
The Chaldean Church made an effort to save the Church in India from the
4th century CE. In the process, the Indian Christians allowed themselves to be
dominated by the Chaldean Patriarchs (or Catholicos).
The Indian Christians did not have an indigenous ecclesiastical Government and
depended entirely on the Chaldean Patriarchs to supply them with Bishops to
govern the Church.
The Malabar Christians also became economically powerful
rich with their chiefs called Modilial
(Mudalier) or headmen who owned the
pepper plantations and were masters. On account of their economic power, the
Christians had created a strong position for themselves, which was equal to
the Hindu Brahmins and would not allow themselves to be touched by persons of
other Castes, who were required to make way for them in the streets as they
passed in the palanquins, under severe penalties in case they failed.
Hence the Church of this period was a ghetto-mentality
Church, which did not go
out to preach and share with others the treasures of their faith. Their
Christianity remained restricted to their own families. This situation
continued till the end of the 15th century.
It is only with the arrival of the Portuguese that hectic
missionary activity began, with a network of numerous missions and missionaries
from Cape of Good Hope to Japan.
However, when the Portuguese power declined together with the Propaganda-Padroado controversy and the
suppression of the religious orders, the Christians themselves destroyed the
faith they had so laboriously and painstakingly established in the east. But
native missionaries like Joseph Vaz and Jácome Gonsalves took up the missionary
challenge and alone and unassisted rendered memorable service in keeping
Catholicism alive and extending its boundaries from Comorim to Everest peak
from the middle of the 18th century till the present times.
After 450 years of Christianity, Goa
remains only 35% Catholics today.
Beginnings of the Latin Missions:
Latin missionaries attempted to come to India by
dangerous and perilous land routes, passing through hostile Muslim countries
from the 13th century. They were the Dominican Friar Preachers beginning with
John de Monte Corvino, who passed through
the Coromandel Coast on way to China.
The next missionary was Jordan de Severac, who had to embark at Sopará, Kalyan,
where he found existing a small church and community and instructed and
baptized 90 catechumens. However, four of his companions were martyred for the
faith by the Muslims in Thane between 1320 and 1324. Around 1328, more
Dominicans were massacred in South India. Jordan is said to have made more then 10,000
conversions in South India and then proceeded to Avignon to convince the Pope to seed more
missionaries and establish a regular ecclesiastical government. He came back
as the first Latin Bishop with letters from the Pope to the rulers of Quilon,
Konkan, Gujarat, Lesser India and Molepattan.
He too suffered martyrdom in Thane being stoned to death by the Muslims. After
that, missions languished in India
due to the brutal attacks on the missionaries by the Muslims and the onslaughts
of the Turkish invasions.
The Popes found it difficult to make a headway against Islam
which had firmly entrenched itself in India with a vast net work of its
own missions. Islam moreover, had the backing of the state, while in the
absence of the protection of the political power, the Christian missionaries
had to suffer and die for Christ. The missionary enterprise had to be abandoned,
when the Turks in 1453, conquered Constantinople and became the masters of West Asia.
Arrival of the Portuguese in India:
In 1598 with the discovery of the new sea route, the Portuguese
and established maritime empire in the East. Soon after Vasco da Gama landed in
confessor the Franciscan Friar Pedro de Covilhães stated preaching to the
Hindus and made some converts. The Muslims, however, killed him and he became
the first Portuguese martyr in India.
With the second fleet under Pedro Álvares Cabral, the King of Portugal sent eight
Franciscans and eight secular priests. The former had an express mandate to
expand the Kingdom
of Christ, while the
latter to serve as Chaplains to the forts and factories that the Portuguese
captains would establish. Frei Henrique de Coimbra was their Superior. On reaching Calicut, the Franciscans immediately started
their missions and it is said that in a short time, they converted many Hindus
to Christianity. The Muslims were alarmed by this and asked the ruler of Calicut (Kozhikode),
Zamorim, to withdraw the permission granted to the Portuguese to begin a
As negotiations were under way, Cabral who was patiently waiting to unload the
cargo from the ships, attacked and seized a Moorish vessel. In retaliation, the
Moors attacked the Portuguese factory in which 53 men including 3 Franciscans
lost their lives. In 1505, Friar Gaspar, another Franciscan was killed in
Quilon and in 1511, Friar Luis de Salvador was slain by the Muslims on his return
from Vijayanagar. More Franciscans arrived
with the fleets of João da Nova in 1501 and Vasco da Gama in 1502.
The first batch of twelve Dominicans came to India in 1505.
More Franciscans arrived with the fleet of Francisco de Almeida in 1505 and Afonso
de Albuquerque in 1509. Most of the missionaries worked in South India for three
years and then returned to Europe.
Conquest of Goa by the
Portuguese in 1510:
The Hindus were not happy with the Muslim rulers because the
latter did not recognise the rights and privileges of the former and forced
them to pay heavy taxes. Therefore, the Saraswat Brahmins sought Portuguese
intervention in Goa. Afonso de Albuquerque
acceeded to the request and the soldiers of Albuquerque and Timoja, the
commander of Vijayanagar attacked Goa and took
the city by surprise from the soldiers of Ismael Adil Khan of Bijapur. Albuquerque entered Goa
solemnly in March 1510 with a Dominican Friar carrying a crucifix in front.
Hindus from the provinces of Bardez, Salcete and Pondá immediately offered the
allegiance to Albuquerque who restored their lands to them on condition that
they would pay taxes which were reduced to a third of what the Muslims
collected. Three and a half month later, Adil Khan appeared again with 50,000
soldiers and captured Goa after fighting for 5
days. Albuquerque and Timoja passed the monsoon at the island
of Anjediva (Agdwipa) and returned to
conquer Goa on November 25. In this bloody
encounter, 2,000 Bijapur Muslim soldiers were killed, about 3,000 were drowned
in the Mandovi waters and about 6,000 were massacred at the point of the sword.
The wives of the Muslim soldiers were taken prisoners. They were,
then, instructed in the faith and baptized and given in marriage to the
bachelors in Albuquerque’s
army. Three Franciscan Friars, José Alemão, Rui Gomes and Francisco da Rocha
in this expedition. Friar Francisco da Rocha was appointed 1st Parish-Priest of
the City of Goa
and in this capacity celebrated these baptisms and marriages.
Factors that helped the missionary activity in Goa:
1.Slavery: The first factor that helped
the missionaries in converting the Hindus was the practice of slavery. The
slaves craved for liberation and social emancipation. Given the exploitation
of the lower classes by the higher classes the former were naturally reduced to
a state of famine and consequent slavery. Hence, they preferred to be
Christians than to be slaves.
2.Sati: The second factor was the
condition of women. They were forced into complete submission to men and
nurtured secret hopes of emancipation. They did not aspire for equality with
men but only for a position in the home which would permit them to decide
and act freely in the domestic field. They also had fears of the practice of
Sati. Albuquerque took a bold step to forbid the
cruel practice of sati on the Island
of Goa (Ilhas). However
the practice continued. Those widows who shrank from the pyre found
themselves ostracised by the family and the society and took refuge in the temple of Mahalsa Devi
at Mardol in Verna (Varunapur, Salsete) and became prostitutes. Christianity
being a religion that would emancipate them and restore them their dignity and
right to live and even remarry, attracted many in its fold.
3.Disunity: The third factor was lack of
unity among the Hindus. The higher class of Brahmins was not homogeneous. It
was divided into two sects, the Shivaites and the Vaishnavites. They lived in
constant struggle for supremacy. When the Portuguese conquered Goa, they availed of the situation to give vent ot their
4.Caste Prejudices: The fourth factor was the
system of castes which brought a barrier of prejudices and prevented even the
simple intermingling in daily life. It was absolutely forbidden to eat or even
drink a glass of water in the house of people of lower caste and the violation
of this rule was sufficient for ex-communication. Christianity treated every
one equally. Although the Jesuits and the Franciscans allowed the caste system
to prevail because of social reasons, even the lowest castes were admitted to
the same benefits as the Portuguese themselves especially in matters of
education, economic uplift and medical relief.
5.Superstitions: Beliefs in superstitions,
omens and sooth sayings would entail tragic consequences. In 1562, some
soothsayers augured that a baby whose mother had died in the childbirth would
one day destroy the Father and the entire family, just as it had done to its
mother. The father was actually going to choke the child and throw it into the
river when a Jesuit student who happened to be there intervened; a Christian
neighbor accepted to bring up the child as his own after baptizing it. In many
cases, it was found that if a child was born a day that astrologers considered
inauspicious, mothers without any pity would throw the child to wild beasts or
kill them. In case of famines, disasters, orphans were generally the first to
suffer and therefore to protect them, the Portuguese had to appoint legal
guardians and ordered their conversion to Christianity.
Missionary activity in Goa:
The Missionary Activity in Goa
can be divided into three period:
I.The First Period from 1510-1560 with Franciscan Missionaries.
II. The Second Period from 1560- 1652 with Jesuits, Franciscans
and Dominican missionaries
III. The Third period from 1652-1835 which saw the general decadence
of missionary activity culminating in the expulsion of the religious orders.
I.THE FIRST PERIOD — 1510 –
In 1500, Pope Alexander VI by his Bull Cum sicut majestas, gave King Manuel I, the right to name an
Apostolic Commissioner for the region from Cape of Good Hope to India.
In 1514, Pope Leo X by his bull Dum Fidei
Constantiam placed all the territories
and all the houses of worship under the jurisdiction of the Grand Master of the
Order of Christ. This document reserved to the King of Portugal all the
Churches and Ecclesiastical benefices in perpetuum
so that he could appoint ministers of the Church. The same Pope by his Bull Pro Excellenti erected the diocese of
Funchal on the Island
of Madeira. It was the
suffragan of the Archdiocese of Lisbon and had the as its territory extending
from Cabo Bojador to India.
Since the territory was too vast for a single bishop, the Bishop of Funchal would
fulfill his pastoral duty by sending the so called Bishops of the Ring who had no territorial jurisdiction but would
exercise their episcopal function by visiting the various communities, bless holy
oils and confirm the baptized. A Vicar General exercised jurisdiction in India and was
appointed by the King of Portugal. Fr. Diogo Pereira was the first Vicar
General from 1505-1510, the second Fr. João Fernandes from 1510-1513, the third
Friar Domingos de Sousa from 1513-1532 and the last Fr. Miguel Vaz from
Paul II by his Bull Aequum
Reputamus of 3.11.1534, erected the Diocese of Goa, suffragan to the
Archdiocese of Funchal. Dom Francisco de Melo was chosen as the first Bishop
but he died before starting his journey to Goa.
In 1539, the Franciscan Juan de Albuquerque came as the Bishop of Goa. The
Diocese of Goa then comprised the territory from Moçambique in East Africa to China and Japan. Bishop Albuquerque died in
February 1553 and the diocese remained vacant till 1558. In 1558, the diocese of
Goa was raised to Archdiocese with suffragan sees of Cochin and Malacca. In 1560, Dom Gaspar de
Leão Pereira came to Goa
as the first Archbishop.
For about 32 years from 1510 to 1542, only a few Franciscans and
secular priests coming from Portugal
worked in Goa. Their main concern was to
minister to the Portuguese captains, soldiers and fidalgos whose life was not
very exemplary and the mestiços (‘half breeds’). The Franciscans also
dedicated themselves to works of the apostolate and to the work of charity.
While Friar Francisco da Rocha became the first Parish-Priest of
Goa, Friar João Alemão was appointed the first
Director of a Hospital. The Friars, at the same time, devoted themselves to
works of conversion. Friar António de Lauro, who came to India with twelve Friars and became the First
Franciscan Commissary of India in the City of Goa in 1518.
In a short time, they baptized about 800 Hindus and the number
might have been larger if it had not been for the secular clergy who went about
opposing them, placing obstacles in their way, frustrating their desires and
their services of God. Because of this problem, the Commissary asked the King
of Portugal to order that they be favoured and granted powers to gather the
newly converted men and women in their Friary so that they may be taught the
things of the faith. He also requested the Monarch to forbid Hindu Yogis from
entering the Island. He also writes to the
King that a quantity of rice should be given as alms to the Gentiles and conversions
will multiply rapidly. However, Fr. Nicholas Lancillotto was critical of this
policy and in 1547 wrote to Ignatius of Loyola saying that those who become
Christians do so purely for temporal interests and without any good purpose.
Those who were slaves became Christians to attain freedom; others became
Christians because of the material gifts offered to them.
Nevertheless, it was the poor who were the first to be baptized
because they were attracted by the charity of the missionaries who at the same
time preached them the Gospel.
Construction of Churches:
Soon after the conquest of Goa, the Portuguese began constructing
Churches in the City of Goa
and the different villages of Ilhas. Afonso de Albuquerque himself was the
author of the Church
of Santa Catarina. It was
erected as a Chapel in 1510 and was enlarged and completed in 1528 when Nuno de
Cunha was the Viceroy. Albuquerque
also built the Church of O.L. of Mount in 1511, Church of N.Sra.
de Serra in 1513 (not far from Sta Catarina), Church of N.Sra do Rosário e da
Luz in 1514, N.Sra de Piedade in Divar in 1515. By 1520, the Church of St Francis
of Assisi was
completed. By 1541, the Church
of Santiago at Banastarim,
N.Sra de Conceição at Panjim, N.Sra de Guadalupe at Batim,
S. João at Carambolim were completed and had resident priests. Besides, there
were Churches and Chapels without resident priests: Mother at Daugim, Santa Luisa
in the vicinity of Daugim, St. Lawrence at Agaçaim and N.Sra do Cabo, São Brás.
By 1548, we find the Church of N.Sra de Ajuda at Ribandar, St. Lazarus by the side
of the Hospital for infectuous diseases in the south eastern sector of the city
and the Church of
St, Anthony in the middle
of the city.
Thus, from 1510-1546, the Portuguese constructed most of the Churches
of Ilhas almost 20, even though not many had been converted to Christianity.
Role of Francis Xavier:
In May 1542, Francis Xavier arrived in Goa.
Diogo de Borba appointed him Rector of the Seminary. Xavier worked for the
conversion of the Portuguese soldiers and captains and composed a Catechism of
Christian doctrine. Then he left Goa and went to work in South
India. Although Francis Xavier is called the Apostle of Goa, he
has made very few or no conversions in Goa. In
South India, the Paravás were recently being
converted. For one year he labored there untiringly and also among the
Mucavars. He baptized about 10,000 of them in South India.
He came back to Goa in Dec. 43 and went back
to Travancore in Jan. 44. He returned to Goa
to post his letters in 1546. Then he went to Malacca and Moluccas.
He came back again to Goa in 1548 and then went to Bassein (Baçaim) and then to
Cochin and then to Japan. He came back to Goa in February 1552 and was
appointed the first Provincial of the Jesuits in India. Finally in 1552, he left for
China and died on the island of Sanchian (Sangchwan).
Francis Xavier can be called the Apostle of Goa if we take into
account the extension of the Diocese from Mozambique to Japan. His apostolic
field was not in Goa. Bardez and Salsete were
still in the hands of Bijapur and it is said that when he died, there was not
even one convert in Bardez and Salsete. Ilhas had been partly evangelized.
In his letters, he laments about the scandalous lives of the
Portuguese soldiers and requests the King of Portugal to introduce Inquisition
in Goa to bring them to the right path, not
the natives but the Portuguese officers.
Obstacles for Conversions:
1.Christianity was not making progress in Goa
because the Hindus were scandalised by the ungodly
lives of the Portuguese. The soldiers and the officials were ready to
misappropriate what belonged to the state. Among the greatest disorders it reigned
in the family life–married as well as bachelors were living in concubinage.
2.Another handicap to the apostolate was the native language, which the Portuguese
missionary could not understand. Friar Diogo de Borba, therefore, gathered
certain pagan and Muslim youth below the age of twelve, most of them willing,
some by force. He had a building with a refectory and a dormitory, where they
were well groomed and well fed and led a regulated life. They were first taught
to read and write and then were given a course in Latin and other subjects.
Making use of them to convey his message while talking with the locals on
religious matters, Friar Diogo found them more successful than professional
According to him these young boys could later do good missionary
work as priests or catechists. Hence, a Confraternity
of the Holy Faith was founded in 1541 by Fernão Rodrigues de Castelo
Branco, the controller of Finances, Fr. Miguel Vás, Vicar General, Friar Diogo
de Borba, Pedro Fernandes, the Chief Justice, and Cosme Anes, the Registrar
General. The Confraternity appointed its first Managing Committee to help
Christians in lawsuits, attend to the spiritual and material needs of the sick,
assist in burying the dead, have Masses for the souls and prevent a Muslim
from buying a Hindu slave.
3. During all the first period, there were constant and specific
complaints regarding the ill-treatment of
the poorer Christians by the leading Hindu classes. The Brahmins with
their command and mastery of the language captivate the people with the poetic
strains on the woes of Sita or the exploits of a Mahabharata hero. The
Saraswat Brahmins controlled the mind of the people through the temples.
Further they forbade the people to have anything with the missionaries.
Breaking of the Temples:
Complaints of the above obstacles were sent to the King of
Portugal to order some measures to overcome these obstacles.
The first measure was the breaking of the temples. Between 1626
and 1541, the entire villagers of Daugim at the eastern extremity of Tiswadi,
pulled down their temple and became Christians and a Church of Mother
of God was built on the site.
King João III ordered that the temples be demolished and that
not one be left in the whole of the Island
of Goa and its limits.
Nor should the Gentiles be allowed to perform any Gentile ceremony in the land
under his dominion, so that by this merciful rigour they would be made to
forget the gentile cult and be converted to the Holy Faith. The first Provision
of the law is that of 30th June 1541. This Order was carried out
immediately and in the same year on the Island of Tiswadi.
The Vicar General Miguel Vás and Friar Diogo Borba took upon
themselves the task of enforcing this policy of pulling down all the temples
and houses of idolatry that had stood in Goa.
However, the temples in Pilar were not destroyed by the Portuguese but by the
Muslims on the defeat of the Kadambas and the conquest of Goa
Although the list of the temples that existed in the Old
Conquest is not complete, and it includes only the most important ones and
those subsidized by the Comunidades,
it is verified from various accounts of the missionaries as well as Hindu sources
that there existed in Ilhas at least
116 temples, in Bardez at least 176 temples and in Salsete at least 164, which
were mercilessly destroyed. By 1543, the temples on the islands of Tiswadi,
Chorão, Divar, Jua and Vansi were destroyed. Later by the royal decree all the
temples in Bardez and Salsete were suppressed. Franciscans cooperated in this
task in Bardez and the Jesuits in Salsete.
It is said that Master Diogo and his collaborators persecuted
so much the houses of idols and their ministers and caused among them such
dissensions, law suits and evils that the Gentiles themselves of their own
accord eventually pulled down and demolished the houses of the idols. It was
the people themselves who under the pressure brought down the temples in Ilhas.
About the destruction of the temples in Salsete, although this
took place in the second period i.e. after 1560, we deal about it here. In
1567, Diogo (Fernandes or Rodrigues), known
as O Forte, Captain of the Fort of
Rachol, was disobeyed by the Comunidade
of Loutolim. As a result, orders were passed that the main temple of Sri Ramnath of that village be set on
fire. The Comunidade appealed to the
Court of law and obtained an order which compelled the Captain to reconstruct
the temple which had been destroyed. The Captain, however, made a
representation to the Viceroy D. António de Noronha who not only approved his
act but further authorized him to set fire to as many temples as he could and
he would see to the consequences.
Most of the residents of Cuncolim were Hindus and they carried
out degrading acts as sacrifices of human
beings, consultation with the devil
However, the whole episode began when a Courtier from Cochin, who was carrying
letters for the Viceroy, Francisco Mascarenhas, passed Cuncolim. The
inhabitants took away the letters and gave him a severe beating. Resenting this
the Viceroy ordered the Chief Captain of the Port of Rachol
to enter the village through the River Sal. The Captain of Rachol along with
the Vicars of Orlim and Colva Frs. António Francisco and Berno set fire and
destroyed the temples, houses and property. The Hindus ran away but later came
back and rebuild some temples. The army Chaplains, Fr. Manuel Tereira and
Afonso Pacheco, along with Fr. Berno, again demolished the temples, killed a
cow and with its intestines defiled a temple tank.
On 11 July 1583, Fr. Rodolfo Acquaviva together with other
clergy and laity, in all about 50 persons entered the village of Cuncolim
in order to placate the people regarding the destruction of the temples and
also choose a site to build a Church. They were well received by the elders of
the village. Some spies overheard the priests speaking about the building of
the Church at the site of the hut of palm leaves and informed the people that
the Christians had fixed a cross at the site of the hut.
Since the anger had not subdued, on July 14, 1583, a mob of Hindus armed with
spears, swords and arrows and shouting loudly against the intruders started
chasing the Christians from the bazaar where they had gone to do some
purchases. As soon as they saw Frs. Acquaviva, Berno, António Francisco and Brother
Aranha, they attacked them and killed them. Some of the laity were also killed
(There were twenty , of whom 5 were priests and 15 were laymen, one of them was
a Portuguese). The Captain of Rachol arrested 16 chief rebels, many of them
were killed and others died as fugitives.
Margão had a temple dedicated to Macagi Damodhar. He was the son of a Dessai, who when returning
from Quelossim with his bride soon after his marriage, was attacked and killed
along with his bride and entourage by some people of Chimbel, sent by a Brahmin
of Chimbel to whom the bride has been promised in marriage.
Macagi had been honored as the patron of the village and a Temple was built in the
place where his body was found. The Archbishop of Goa, Gaspar Leão went to Margão
in 1565 with the highest dignitaries of the College of St. Paul
and there questioned the Hindus who had come to receive and pay homage to him,
about the place most suited for the purpose. The Hindus fearing that the temple
might be demolished pointed out other places with countless reasons for preference.
The Archbishop who was on foot, on reaching the temple struck the ground with
an arrow that he was carrying. The temple was demolished and at the same site
the Church was built in 1565. After this nine other temples in Margão were destroyed
by the Captain of Rachol.
The deities of the temples that were destroyed in the City of Goa and its vicinity and later on in Salsete were removed
by the Hindus and taken along with them in their flight to Bicholim, Pondá,
Sanguém, Quepém, which were under the Bijapur and Kadamba Kingdoms.
After the destruction of the Temples,
the properties confiscated by the Government and given to the Church for
Charitable Works of the Church:
As early as 1546, the Confraternity of the Holy Faith set up a
Hospital attached to St. Paul’s
College. Due to their Charity and care of the sick and assistance in times of
serious illness, the Jesuits succeeded in attracting to the faith a great
number of the patients, their wives, relatives and children. Slowly the Jesuits
availed themselves of street preaching.
Voluntary Conversions of
Around 1548, the head tax-collector, LOKU (who became Lucas de
Sá), who had been very prominent among those who exhorted the people not to
become Christians, himself became a Christian. After a brief preparation, he
was received into the Church together with his wife and four others, two of
them were village elders. The Baptism was celebrated with great pomp and was
attended by several leading Hindus.
The example of Loku was taken by other Hindus and between 1548
January and November, 912 non-Christians were baptized in city parishes. In
Carambolim there were 300 Baptisms. By 1552, the Christian message was conveyed
to the people through children (i.e. those that attended the elementary school
set up by the Jesuits at St. Paul).
They were taught to sing snatches of Christian doctrine on their way to and
from school. By 1552, the Jesuits constructed the church in Chorão and
dedicated it to
Mother of God and made three hundred converts in a population of 3000. Close to
the church, the viceroy donated a piece of land to the be distributed in
ownership among the new Christians who had no home of their own.
The Dominicans landed in Goa in
1548. By 1555 they raised 4 churches in Ilhas. Santa Bárbara at Greater Morombim
(Grande Morombim), Santa Cruz at Kalapur, St.
Michael at Taleigão and St. John
Evangelist at Neurá.
Between 1550-1552,. the Franciscans built the Reis Magos church
at Verém next to the Portuguese Fort. By 1555 they added a Friary to it and
later on a College and also built a church at Candolim.
Laws against Hindus:
Though the people continued voluntarily to become Christians,
the missionaries as well as the viceroys and captains felt that the process was
slow and the people were not ready to become Christians specially the poor
because they had to endure ill-treatment at the hands of the Brahmins. The
persuasive methods such as gifts, concession of land and other material benefits
did not yield much fruit.
Certain repressive measures known as RIGOUR OF MERCY with
provision for the destruction of temples was taken up.
Conversions were not commonly done by preaching and doctrine but
by right methods, it was felt. For example, preventing idolatry or punishing
by merciful rigour and denying them such favours and conferring on the new
converts honor help and protection.
As the Jesuit students were sent to the villages to preach,
Sunday catechism was also imparted at various centres and an obligation was
laid for those above 15 years to attend these classes under pain of fine.
However, there was no law forcing pagans to embrace Christianity. Perfect
individual freedom was emphasized in conversions.
Some of the laws passed by the Portuguese against the Hindus can
be summed up as follows:
1. The Carta régia of 8th
March, 1546 formerly ordered that idolatry should be eradicated in Goa by dismantling the temples, forbidding gentile
festivals, exiling the Brahmins, and severely punishing anyone who made any
idol of wood, stone or metal.
2. By order of 1557, the non-Christians
were to be excluded from public services and new converts were to be
appointed to the same.
3. The Law of 25th March, 1559, forbade to keep idols in private
houses, subject to the penalty of losing property half in favour of the
denouncer and half of the activities of the
4. The Law of 23rd March, 1559, order the orphans who were
minors to be handed over to the care of the Father of Orphans, the
legal guardian, who would send them to the college of St. Paul
until they reached mature age to decide about their religion. They were taught
catechism and later were baptized Christians.
5. By provision of Viceroy C. de Braganza of 2nd April, 1560, it
was order that Brahmins included in its 30 paragraphs should be thrown out of
Ilhas, from the fortresses and from the lands of His Majesty. Those who had no
immovable property had to leave immediately others who had property were given
one months time to dispose of it. IN case he failed to comply within the period
of one month, they would be sent to the galleys with no recourse to remission.
6. Some years later, marriages according to Hindu religious rite
were forbidden by Provision of 13th March, 1613 and 31st January, 1620.
However, most of these laws remained in paper, being enforced
for a brief period of time and in some places only. For example, in Chorao because some farmers
had left the fields were flooded and the Portuguese repealed the law within a
year and asked them to come back and restore their lands to them.
Somehow the Hindu Brahmins found ways to dodge the rigour of
mercy and for the orphans, led away for baptism, there is no data that the
father of orphans taught them till they were of the age to give their consent.
The Curse of Inquisition:
In 1560, the tribunal of inquisition was established in Goa. Not withstanding the fact that under the terms of
its statutes, the tribunal had jurisdiction only over Christians many Hindus
were tried and convicted by it under the pretext that they persuade and
prevented conversions to Christianity and for having practiced gentile
ceremonies and rights in the Konkan lands. During the period 1561-1774, 16172
cases were tried by the inquisition and some of them were burnt at stake.
Other died in prison, others were
absolved, and others were sentenced galleys.
The major historical consequence which resulted from the methods
and activities of the inquisition was the profound misunderstanding of the
nature of Christianity, which they implanted in the Indian mind. The
intolerance, ruthless cruelty and terror
which characterized its activities were far removed from the spirit of the
Christian gospels with its emphasis on compassion and love and its was only
natural that its victim should have drawn the inference that the Christian god,
in whose name these activities were carried out, was a primitive deity of
vengeance and wrath. Christians who did not want to change their dress, their
Indian names, or cut their tuft or hair were persecuted and one or the other
was burnt at stake. This led to the first exodus of Christians from Bardez,
specially from Aldonã, to Canará.
These Christians and their descendents remain firm in the faith
even to this date in spite of severe persecution by Tipu Sultan in the 18th
century. However, cruel though it might have been, the inquisition did some
service to public morality. It kept corrupt Portuguese officials under check
and weeded out the easy chances of heresy in a neophite country. Five homosexuals
were among the first to be burnt in its act of faith. It thus spread salutary
fear to prevent perversion. It certainly attracted no one to Christianity.
Being a totally negative factor in the great missionary enterprise of the
Portuguese in Goa.
Distribution of Goa among
In 1555 during the rule of Viceroy Pedro Mascarenhas the whole
enclave except the city of Goa
and its immediate surroundings, were
divided among the religious orders. In order to avoid inconveniences of one
order encroaching the others jurisdiction. Thus, the Franciscans got Bardez as
their field of apostolate and the Jesuits got Salsete. The village of Ilhas
were distributed among the Jesuits and Dominicans: Dominicans got 15 villages
between Cape of Nazareth (Siridão) and Moulá in Western Tiswadi. The Jesuits got the East of the Tiswadi Islands, Divar and Chorão.