Pilar, Goa, India
The Missionary Seminary is located on high ground overlooking the Zuari River estuary, next to the old Pilar Convent, where it functioned in the early years after it was founded in 1942. It also became known as the Major Seminary of Pilar, probably soon after the work was completed and also to counter the Minor Seminary of Pilar located a bit farther down the slope (designed by the architect Sarto de Almeida and finished in 1969). According to a plaque on the building, the foundation stone was laid on 21 December 1946, with the name “Casa das Missões sisfx”. It is not known whether several designers submitted proposals for the building’s initial plan or if the proposals set out in the drawings still kept at the seminary are by a single designer. But it is certain that the chosen project, a three-storey U-shaped building with a neo-Gothic vocabulary, is the only one whose drawings are signed; they were produced by R. Hillary, a Franciscan lay brother from Karachi, who signed the drawings with Xavier Pires from Betim. For financial reasons, however, the plan was changed by the engineer Bento Manuel Flores from Panaji, a technical employee of the Islands Municipal Council, who also supervised the construction. The organisation comprises a three-storey E-shaped volume, with evident attention paid to the main elevation. It is symmetrical vis-à-vis the entrance, although the volumes are not, in detriment to the side and back elevations. The central body is larger than the other two and organises most of the common spaces. The ground floor contains the reception, a hall (now a museum) and the refectory, while the chapel is found on part of the second and third floors. All the floors also include rooms with various occupations. The central area has two staircases for the main accesses; there is also a third with the characteristics of a service staircase next to the entrance to the building’s central body. The chapel with its central altar is one of the most interesting parts of the building. As it is an exceptional programme within the building, more care was given to its design and construction. It has a central nave with double ceiling height and lateral access galleries on both floors. The stained glass design is by Ângelo de Fonseca. The rest of the building is occupied by quarters accessed by the galleries, but which face the back of the building. The vocabulary of the main façade, which the galleries face, is of art deco inspiration. Some of the decorative elements resemble Aloísio Colaço’s proposal for the Saligao Seminary. Both seminaries were inaugurated in 1952 during commemorations of the fourth centenary of the death of Saint Francis Xavier. Despite this, financial difficulties meant the work dragged on for 20 years and was only effectively finished in 1965, done entirely by the brothers. It is nowadays called the All India Mission Seminary. The Pilar Theological College functions here, occupying several volumes meanwhile built near the seminary.