Church of Our Lady of the Conception
Moirá, Goa, India
Our Lady of the Conception of Moira existed as a Franciscan rectory in about 1635; in 1636 a church was built by the community for the Franciscans. However, the one we see today results from very extensive work carried out by the local community from 1800 to 1838. Documentation confirms construction between these dates of the new main façade (1800), followed by a new chancel (1814), nave (1832) and apse (1836-38), as well as the parish house (1841). But it is probable that the nave was also redone at that time. Indeed, Our Lady of the Conception as it stands today is a typologically coherent church, integrating a group formed by various dome-façade churches in Bardez. It has a façade of that type, with a single tile-roofed nave, two-floor side elevations articulated by semicircular shell niches with window openings, and a chancel covered by a barrel vault with penetrations, whose niches are of the same type as those in the nave. Unlike other churches, the apse of the one in Moira shows the direct influence of Saint Jerome’s Church in Mapusa through the presence of a large tower located on the axis and behind the chancel. The tower is not over a chamber as in Mapusa, but was rather built as a bell tower. The church and the parish building, articulated by a gallery patio abutting its north side, are situated on an east-facing hill overlooking a large area of rice fields. In front of the façade and before the slope over the rice fields is a yard with cross. The parish house, which preserves its old form, stands amid an incline above the church to the south. The town is to the west, far from the church, as usual. Behind the church, by the path to the town, is the covered cemetery.