Saint Anthony's Chapel

Saint Anthony's Chapel

Goa [Velha Goa/Old Goa], Goa, India

Religious Architecture

Saint Anthony’s Chapel is located on the Monte Santo [Holy Mount] of the former city of Goa. It was the second religious building constructed there, at an uncertain date between 1537 and 1572. But the intention to build a chapel dedicated to Saint Anthony on that site was mentioned by Gaspar Correia, linking it to a vow made by Antão Nogueira after the city was conquered in 1510. Although there is scant information, it is known that the chapel was renovated various times, resulting in an architecture quite different from that of the neighbouring Chapel of Our Lady of the Rosary. The original building may have been a small circular hermitage with an east-facing entrance. In 1606 Saint Anthony’s Chapel was delivered to the administration of the Augustinians, who at the time were building a sumptuous church in their Convent of Our Lady of Grace on a contiguous property to the southeast. Between that date and 1635 the chapel underwent a thorough renovation. Half of the circular structure was apparently integrated in the main façade of a new rectangular chapel, which resulted in its being reoriented; the new high altar was now located on the west side of the nave. This explains the unexpected convex front. Inside, the space was certainly influenced by the Church of Our Lady of Grace, by simulating a larger and more complex architecture which this construction could not have: false side chapels (only the opening arch exists) and tribune windows (with trompe-l’oeil balustrades), as well as the interior elevations’ decorative motifs, evoke the interior of the Augustinian church. It was subject to further modification around 1680, this time affecting the chancel: a profusely adorned groin vault with penetrations was built. This vault type had been used by the Jesuits to rebuild the sacristy of the Bom Jesus Church (1652) and was later disseminated among Goa’s religious architecture. Besides the high altar and pulpit, the interior of Saint Anthony’s Chapel is rather bare with respect to religious furnishings. The blue pigment recently applied to the relief decorative motifs lends the space a singular atmosphere compared to other churches in Old Goa. The Confraternity of Saint Anthony was established here in 1679. Closed when the religious orders were abolished in 1835, worship resumed in 1894. In 1961 the chapel nave’s roof was restored. Saint Anthony’s Chapel was later integrated in a Catholic educational institution, which raised a three-floor building next to the chapel.

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