Heard about this connection between Goa and the British monarch?

A little Anglican church, in Vasco, bears witness to the fact that the British occupied Goa for a brief point in time
The British monarch is the head of the worldwide Anglican Church
The British monarch is the head of the worldwide Anglican ChurchGomantak Times

By Iris Gomes

It is no secret that Goa was part of the Portuguese empire for several centuries, and they left their mark on the land and its culture. But, what remains relatively unknown is that Goa was also under the British empire for a short spell, and even had its own church, headed by the British monarch.

Headland Sada, in Vasco, harbours a church of historic significance, reminding us that the British occupied Goa from 1799 to 1815 (some sources report that the British left in 1813). This beautiful little Anglican church is St Christopher’s, and it was built for the British officers, their families, and soldiers who were stationed in Goa.

St Christopher’s stands tall despite weathering physical and ecclesiastical turmoil
St Christopher’s stands tall despite weathering physical and ecclesiastical turmoilPIC CREDIT: Iris Gomes

In 1799, British troops entered Goa under Colonel Sir William Clarke, in order to thwart the attempts of France to take over the area for strategic purposes during the Napoleonic Wars.

The 18th century church is said to have been built in 1799. While earlier it was part of the Church of India, Pakistan, Burma and Ceylon, St Christopher’s Church became part of the Church of North India (CNI) in 1970 and is currently under the diocese of Kolhapur.

These church pews once seated a considerable congregation, that has dwindled in recent times
These church pews once seated a considerable congregation, that has dwindled in recent timesPIC CREDIT: Iris Gomes

THE CHURCH TODAY

In 1999, the church, which has seen extensive repairs and renovations with an extended porch and a hall, celebrated 200 years. The church is also connected to the Missions to Seamen (a Christian charity, now known as the Mission to Seafarers).

The quaint ‘very English’ church stands out with its architecture quite different from that of the more familiar Portuguese-style churches that dot Goa and could well be included in a history buff’s must-see list, despite the rather distant location atop a hill, behind the Mormugao Port Trust.

The modest altar of the church
The modest altar of the churchPIC CREDIT: Iris Gomes

At present, the church congregation is up to about 10-12 members, and with the resumption of church services on the second Sunday of every month, individuals who are part of the Anglican Communion (Anglican High Church as well as Low Church) and other Christian denominations are invited to join in the services.

LOCATION: Headland Sada, in Vasco

CHURCH SERVICES (ANGLICAN COMMUNION): Second Sunday of every month

CONTACT: +91 9110672843 (Pastor Ronald Nadugaddi)

The British monarch is the head of the worldwide Anglican Church
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