Convent of Saint John of God
Goa [Velha Goa/Old Goa], Goa, India
The Convent of Saint John of God is located on Monte Santo west of the centre of the disappeared city of Old Goa. It was built by members of the lay order of Saint John of God who had arrived in India in 1685, and originated in two houses acquired in 1690, situated right in front of the Convent of Our Lady of Grace. Construction of the current building must have begun soon thereafter. Little more is known about this building and its evolution. According to José Nicoloau da Fonseca, the convent was acquired in 1844 by the nuns of Saint Monica’s Convent to use as a residence for chaplains, confessors and other personnel. This is surprising, given that monastic houses had been abolished nine years beforehand and Saint Monica’s was thus prohibited from admitting more novices. The same author writes that the church’s tile roof was removed in 1850 to carry out construction work. When his work was published in 1878 the church was still roofless and the partly destroyed convent had been abandoned. Francisco Xavier Costa mentions the continuation of work (reconstruction?) on the church’s roof in the list of restorations done in 1952, along with repairs and painting work in the Convent of Saint John of God. The latter is nowadays used as a home for the elderly. The church dedicated to Our Lady of Good Success closes the convent’s volume on its north side. The façades of both church and convent comprise a continuous west-facing surface opposite the ruins of the Augustinian Convent of Our Lady of Grace. The church façade presents a typical Goan gable façade with three sections on two levels, with only one central door (not the usual three) and an additional central panel flanked by curved panels and topped by a classical triangular pediment. Two three-storey towers flank the façade. The windows of the façade and the towers have a very similar configuration in aedicula form. This uniformity of bays (once again demonstrating the tendency of Goan Christian architecture towards uniform elements) counters the volumetric distinction between gable façade and towers, making a reading of this façade very ambiguous. The two-storey convent building is composed of four volumes in front, though set off visually on the façade by pilasters and on the roof by multiple hip roofs – the so-called pagoda roofs characteristic of Goan monastic and palace architecture, of which few examples remain. The convent still maintains most of its built structure.