Saint Peter’s Church

Saint Peter’s Church

Panelim, Goa, India

Religious Architecture

According to Father Catão, Saint Peter’s Church in Panelim or Banguinim (the church serves parishioners from two different places) was built by stonemasons from the home kingdom between 1545 and 1553, based on an initiative by Viceroy Martim Afonso de Sousa (1542-1545). It is the most characteristic Goan church of the type built in the Islands in the 16th century. It is also well known due to its location by the road between Ribandar and Old Goa. The church has the sanctuary to the east, a single rectangular nave covered by a tile roof and a stone-vaulted chancel. The high choir is above the entry, supported by stone arches. The transept is inserted in a square tower on the north side, aligned with the main façade. The tower shelters the baptistery on the ground level. The façade has a single section and sharp triangular pediment with round oculus. Windows are placed next to the eaves along the nave, which has an altar on each side. The nave’s original roof was higher and steeper than the one seen nowadays, judging by the very high location of the oculus, meanwhile covered. The large square portico protecting the church’s main door (of the type that exists at the Archbishop’s Palace in Old Goa) may have been added to the façade construction later, as it interrupts the upper bays. The main door and southern side door have fluted Ionic pilasters that support a straight pediment; they date to the mid-16th century. The carved moulding ornamenting the pillars and pinnacles of the façade corner, along with the pilasters and the triumphal and high choir arches, are characteristic of the period after 1570. At unknown dates in the early 18th century the chancel was given a barrel vault with penetrations; this may have required the construction of outside abutments. It is also possible that those abutments helped support the original vault, which may likewise have been a barrel vault. The main retable, the two side ones and those in the nave date to the period of the chancel’s new roof, along with a chamber that back-lights the retable niche and is expressed on the outside face of the apse to the east.

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