We celebrate today 400th year of its foundation.

The  Patriarchal Seminary of Rachol dates back to the  first decade  of  17th century. Founded by the Jesuits, it  was  called College of All Saints, as its foundation stone was laid on  their feast  day, on November 1, 1606. The building was inaugurated in 1610 and named later on  College of Saint Ignatius, as the Found­er of the Society of Jesus was canonized in 1622.

Since 1574, there was a College of the Holy Spirit, close to their  church of Margão. The Marathas frequently invaded Salsete taluka and burnt many of its churches.  In 1579 they burnt  the Holy Spirit College in Margãao. This necessitated the transfer of this  College in 1580 to the residence of Our Lady of  Snows  at Rachol.  Then it was renamed as College of Our Lady of Snows.  In 1606,  with the help of King Dom Sebastião of Portugal  and  with the contributions from the “Communidades” or neighbouring village
communities, the College of Rachol was founded.

The  coat  of  arms of the King Dom  Sebastião  of  Portugal (1568-1578) is engraved in bold relief above the main door  ofthe building. The inscription just below the arms reads thus:  “ARMAS DELREI D.SEBASTIAO, FUNDADOR DESTE COLEGIO (‘The arms of the king D.Sebastião, founder of the College’).

To the left of the entrance is a staircase of black laterite stone leading to the superior floor, where there is a hall  named after him and adorned with his life-size portrait on horse-back.

The King D.Sebastião died in the fight of Alkacer-Kebir  in May  1579. Since the news of the King’s death was received, the portrait  was  put in the Rector’s Hall,  thus perpetuating  the recognition  of the Royal Founder (Fundador Real) of the  College
for his funds. This circumstance led to call the Seminary  “Semi­nário Real” (Royal Seminary).

The portrait was painted by an Italian artist and placed  in the main hall of the College, called “Sala de D.Sebastião”  (Hall of  Don Sebastian), where it is customary to hold the “Conselho dos Estudos do Seminário”.

The engineer André Constâncio Augusto, hailing from  Rachol  intra  muros and son-in-law  of F.N.Pires (the same one who  executed the building “Town Hall” of Mumbay), at the request of  the Jesuit  Fathers made  a copy of this portrait in 1840 and put  it in the old frame of 1783.  This copy was the model for the General Assa.

It was executed under the technical direction of the General José Frederico d’Assa Castelo in 1892, when he was Director of Public Work.

When  the Jesuits were expelled by the Royal Letters,  dated September 3, 1759 (from Portugal), and April 1, 1760 (from its colonies),  the Oratorians were chosen by the Marquis  of  Pombal himself to replace them.

The management under the Oratorian Priests continued from 1761  to 1774. The Royal Letter (Carta Régia) of April  4,  1761, speaks  of the Oratorians as “well educated and very  exemplary”.  It  was  during the time of the twenty-first Archbishop  of  Goa, D.António Taveira de Neiva Brun e Silveira, that being under  the Oratorians  the College of Rachol was officially  constituted  by the  Decree of January 4, 1762 into a Diocesan Seminary with  the name  of “Seminary of Good Shepherd” (Seminário do  Bom  Pastor), under the protection of Child Jesus.

But the Seminary had to be suddenly closed down in 1774 due to financial difficulties. It was reopened seven years later. Then,  the  Vincentians or Lazarists (from  the Congregation  of Saint  Vincent  de  Paul) took charge of  the  administration  of 
Rachol Seminary in 1781 and continued up to 1789.

From  1793 to 1835 Rachol Seminary was managed again by  the Oratorian Priests, because the Vincentians left. Finally, in 1835 the  Seminary  was entrusted to the Diocesan clergy  and  renamed Seminário Patriarcal de Rachol.

After  a difficult period of transition  (1835-1843),  there were  radical reforms in different areas of  priestly  formation. When  Archbishop João Crisóstomo d’Amorim Pessoa took  charge  of the Archdiocese of Goa in 1862, he brought in many changes in the academic and disciplinary fields. In 1882, Dom Antonio  Sebastião Valente  (1882-1908),  Magnus Vir ab Infantia, landed in  Goa  to take  charge of the Archdiocese of Goa. The first Patriarch of East Indies brought in tremendous changes in the entire gamut of Seminary life in Rachol. 

This “great man” made  a few additions to the main building, such as a new wing with forty rooms (20 on the first floor and 20 on the ground floor), a library hall, a dormitory (Camarata)  for the  students and an infirmary (Enfermaria), in 1890, during  the tenure of Msgr.Pedro Remgio das Merces Barreto as a Vice-Rector.  He  also provided a set of rules and regulations suitable to  the new   circumstances and reorganized the Seminary  curriculum.  He codified  them and published on August 4, 1901 the “Novo  Regula­mento do Seminário de Rachol” on the occasion of the 20th anniver­sary  of his Episcopal Ordination, August 4, 1901.

Since  the Seminary was entrusted to the Diocesan Clergy  in 1835, there have been diocesan Rectors who have contributed a lot towards the progress of the life of the Seminary. 

Rachol Seminary inherited its printing press from its prede­cessor,  St.Paul’s College, in Old Goa. It was the third  in  Goa (or  the same from St.Paul’s College, Old Goa) and the fourth  in Asia.  The first book to be printed and published at the  College of  Rachol  in Roman characters was Christian Purana in  1616  by Thomas  Stephens  and the last one Regras da Companhia  in  1674. During  the  span of 58 years, 16 books have  been brought  out. Among  them Doutrina Christã in 1622–a work on  Christian  doctrine–and Konkani Grammar in 1640, both by Thomas Stephens.

Today the Seminary marches on with the signs of the times. A lot  of changes have been brought about and many more are  desir­able  for the training of the priests for the  Third Millennium. The curriculum of studies has been updated, the regency programme has been reorganized.

The  building has naturally its maintenance  problems,  like dampness  of  walls and high humidity, due to which  the  inmates have  health  problems,  like respiratory  tract infections  and allergic  conditions. Some remedial measures are being taken and the  work  of repairs is going on full swing. Shortcomings are there, but the effort of renewal is not lacking.
1)Cf.Pe.Francisco  de  Souza, Oriente Conquistado,  I,  D.2, p.32.

2)For  details,  see Gabriel de Saldanha, História de Goa; Msgr.Francisco  Xavier  Gomes Catão, Primeiro Seminário  de  Goa; Quadricentenário da Arquidiocese de Goa, 1533-1933; Monografia do Seminário de Rachol, 1935;  Joseph WICKI, SJ, ed.Documenta Indica (1592-1594),  vol.XVI, 1984; Nora Secco de Souza,  “Rachol Semi­nary:  Torch-Bearer  of Catholicism in India”, Goa  Today,  June 1969; Msgr.Carmo da Silva, “Memorable Jubilee”,  NT,  Aug.1976; Joseph  Velinkar, “Jesuit Educational Style in Sixteenth  Century Goa”, Indica, March 1984.


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