Visiting Goa’s capital? Then, Panjim Church is likely to be high on your bucket list. The Igreja da Imaculada Conceição (Immaculate Conception Church), commonly known as Panjim Church, is located in the heart of Panjim and is generally thought to be the only church in the capital city of Goa.
In fact, just a couple of kilometres from this church, on the outskirts of the city, stands another which dates back to the Portuguese era – St Agnes Church, popularly called Santa Inez Church.
Named after St Agnes (Santa Inês/Inez in Portuguese), Santa Inez Church faces the very busy St Inez road.
It started out as a small chapel, built by Dom Francisco in 1584, and was later donated to the Augustinians, who reconstructed it into a much larger structure in 1605.
IN THE BEGINNING
For a long period of time, Panjim was a ward of Taleigao, and there were two churches serving the faithful of the region – Panjim Church and Taleigao Church.
In 1606, Panjim and St Inez were separated from Taleigao by a royal decree. Following this, the Santa Inez Church was raised to the level of a parish church by the then Archbishop, Dom Frei Aleixo de Menezes.
In 1653, the church was rebuilt into the present day structure that we are familiar with, and was run by the Augustinians. Almost a century later, the Diocesan Clergy took charge of its administration in 1769.
The church exhibits the Mannerist Neo-Roman style, and bears fluted capitals, triangular and arched pediments, low domes and twin bell towers.
ADDITIONS & CHANGES
When the Dominicans landed in Panjim in 1584, they established the college of St Thomas de Aquinas. A burial ground was also set up in the vicinity.
While the Dominicans eventually left Panjim and the college, too, was shifted, the cemetery continued to be in use by the residents of the area.
In 1878, Governor Caetano Alexandre Almeida de Alburquerque ordered several works and projects to develop Panjim into a model city.
During the course of these activities, a new cemetery was built (at the present location) in St Inez and inaugurated in January 1879, with the first burial being that of Messias Gomes da Silva, the day after its inauguration.
Incidentally, this is the only cemetery in Panjim and it is attached to St Inez Church, rather than the very famous Panjim Church.
In the 1980s, a new parochial house was added to the church complex, while a hall, funded by a donor from Spain, was also constructed.
In recent years, the interior of the church has undergone aesthetic renovation, following which there are now azulejos at the entrance of the church foyer, among other things.
The church is magnificent on the outside and tasteful on the inside, all of which will leave you marvelled. So, if you’re visiting Panjim, don’t forget to include St Inez church in your itinerary. It’s centuries old, picturesque and has a fascinating history of its own.
The feast of St Agnes, is celebrated on the Sunday after January 21 every year, while the feast of Our Lady of Safe Harbour (Nossa Senhora do Porto Seguro or Porto Seguro Saibinn) is celebrated in May.