Church of the Mother of God
Saligão, Goa, India
he Church of the Mother of God is located outside the town of Saligao on the new road between Mapusa and Calangute. According to Friar Nascimento Mascarenhas, it was built on the initiative of the Saligao-born Francisco Salvador Zeferino Pinto, then head of the Bardez Council, who mobilised the entire community. The project was designed by the Public Works inspector Major Francisco Manuel Ferreira Martins and approved in 1865, with construction work beginning on 7 February 1867. The church was consecrated on 26 November 1873, the year it was also made the parish church. It has a single nave with a wooden and tile roof, a barrel-vaulted chapel and six altars, one of which contains the Mother of God image that belonged to the old Convent of the Mother of God of Daugim. Some altars certainly came from older churches, as did the wooden main door. It was Goa’s first church built in the neo-Gothic style. The abutments with rusticated horizontal elements recall neo-classicism. They are entirely useless from the structural standpoint, because the church is not vaulted, and are merely a rhetorical sign of Gothicism. Also noteworthy on the main elevation is the front tower, influenced by the Church of Glory of Byculla in Mumbai. Rising from it are free-standing arches that secure the pinnacle and cross above the main entrance, whose scenic appearance is once again due to a desire to showcase the buttress as a stylistic feature. The attached parish house certainly dates from the same time. It is organised around a patio like all the traditional Franciscan rectories in Bardez, with simpler details than the church. But it is also of neo-Gothic inspiration, with pointed-arch windows – the most common neo-Gothic feature found in buildings pertaining to the Church and to the State, and often in domestic architecture as well. This church was planned and built in the 1870s and was the most modern in Goa. It resulted from the rising influence of British India and specifically the Mumbai area, to which numerous Goans emigrated.