The quaint locale of Rachol, in South Goa, houses a historical legacy of the Portuguese era. The Patriarchal Seminary of Rachol is not only the spiritual and educational home to its seminarians in these times, but it stands as a visual testament to the history, art, culture and architecture of a bygone age.
The Jesuits founded the College of the Holy Spirit in Margao in 1574, which was, however, shifted to Rachol twice owing to the constant threat of attacks on Margao from Adil Shah of Bijapur. The fortified village of Rachol, which was a pre-Portuguese fortress, subsequently rebuilt by the Portuguese, proved to adequately secure the college.
The foundation was laid for a church and college in Rachol in 1606. An orphanage, a hospital, a catechetical school for catechumens, a Portuguese primary school, a Konkani school for foreign missionaries and a moral theological school were all part of this college. The college boasts of having the martyred Blessed Rodolfo Acquaviva, Englishman and linguistic genius Thomas Stephens and the author of Oriente Conquistado Francisco de Souza as former rectors.
THE PRINTING PRESS
The printing press at Rachol churned out 16 books in total. The first text to be published was the Krista Purana (Discourse on the Coming of Jesus Christ, Our Saviour to the World), in literary Marathi by Thomas Stephens. This was followed by Stephens’ Doutrina Christam em Lingua Bramana Canarim (a work on Christian doctrine in the dialect of the Brahmins of Goa) and Arte da Lingoa Canarim (Grammar of Canarim language), which was the revised version of the original work of Thomas Stephens. Regras da Companhia de Jesus (Rules of the Society of Jesus) was the last book to be published here in 1674.
Initially dedicated to All Saints in 1610, the church and college eventually came to be named after St Ignatius of Loyola, following his canonisation in 1622. After the Jesuits were expelled in 1759, an Archdiocesan seminary was instituted for the formation of diocesan clergy. It was dedicated to the Good Shepherd and called ‘Seminario do Bom Pastor’.
The direction of this seminary changed hands a few times between the Oratorians and the Congregation of the Mission. The diocesan clergy took over when all religious orders were banished from Portugal and its territories in 1835.
STRUCTURE & DESIGN
The seminary attained its present name of Patriarchal Seminary of Rachol in 1886.
The seminary completed 400 years in 2010 and the two storey quadrangular edifice has certainly stood the test of time. An excellent example of Indo-Portuguese Christian architecture, the structure has magnificent oyster shell windows, wooden flooring, high ceilings and stone stairs. The black granite stone used to build these stairs was brought as weight (ballast) to keep the Portuguese ships, returning from Europe, divested of their cargo such as spices and the like, stably buoyant.
Within the enclosure of the quadrangle lies a now defunct cistern, that in the past, collected rain water which was used by the inmates. There is a story that says that it acted as a safe haven for native refugees in troubled times. Some sources report it to have once been a water tank or tirth attached to a Hindu temple. This conclusion is based on the remains of a Nandi bull, signifying a Shaivite cult, and an image of the god Bhairav, denoting the existence of Vaishnavism.
Torch-bearer of Catholicism in India (Goa Today, June 1969) by Nora Secco de Sousa from Goa Today Articles compiled by Maria Ana Paiva and Sneha S P Markarnekar
Goa: The Rachol Legacy by Teresa Albuquerque
To find out about the mysterious soldier’s tomb at Rachol Seminary, stay tuned for Part 2, coming soon...