Church of the Mother of God

Church of the Mother of God

Pomburpá, Goa, India

Religious Architecture

Father Catão reports that the church was “founded in 1590 by Luísa da Madre de Deus of the Third Order of Saint Francis and by her mother Ana de Santa Maria; they also founded a hospice and donated them to the Franciscans in a deed dated 11-6-1604”. The façade of the Pomburpa church faces eastward, like those of Penha de França, Saviour of the World and Aldona. All four overlook the Mandovi shore when a branch of that river runs from north to south, thereby delimiting the border of Bardez. Those of Penha de França and Pomburpa were built at water’s edge, with the Mother of God Church standing on a rocky promontory a half-dozen metres high. The site slightly above the shore, where a road now runs, can be reached by a two-flight right-angled staircase adorned with ball finials. It accesses a large veranda in front of the façade of the church (and the river). Two cells are situated under this veranda. Father Catão writes that everything here was built by the rector and ex-provincial Friar António da Assunção “with alms and without recourse to the Gaunkars”, presumably soon after 1604. The stairway and veranda create the church’s setting and landscape effect vis-à-vis its position on the slope. The building has a single nave with a tile roof, ‘Franciscan’ façade with free-standing galilee with three front arches under a high choir that opens onto the nave. The upper part of the façade has multilobed oculi, windows with triangular pediments fit between pilasters, an undulating finish and cherubim. Its expression approximates the façade of the Franciscan Church of the Holy Spirit in Old Goa (1660), and may correspond to a remodelling of the apse. The Church of the Mother of God was endowed with two towers flanking the chancel in the Franciscan fashion (or existing towers were redone), a polygonal front and a crown of abutments. This work was possibly carried out in the mid-18th century. According to Father Catão, “the Blessed Sacrament was placed in the church around 1748” – information which is hard to interpret. Up the hill behind it is the churchyard with cemetery and the access to the parish house facilities and old hospice situated north of the church.

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