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The Goa Inquisition

GoaCentral > History of Goa > Alfonso de Albuquerque

With the Portuguese came the Inquisition from Europe. For its effect on Goa, click on for more.....

Introduction The Inquisition Tribunal The Palace of the Inquisition
The Santo Officio Auto da Fes The Suppression
Artifacts of the Inquisition    

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Introduction

The Inquisition of Goa was established around 1560. It was a tribunal to take cognizance of offences committed against the catholic religion and its main objective was to maintain the purity of religion. 

The Inquisition was based on denouncement, confession and reconciliation. The denounced were encouraged to confess, use of torture was quite common along with other third degree methods during confessions and many a time confessions were extracted under duress. Though the rules precluded the use of such methods, there was a wide gap between theory and practice. In Goa, the Inquisition tried to prevent Hindu influences and customs from infiltrating into the Catholic religious practices of the neo converts. 

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The Inquisition Tribunal

The Inquisition was an ad judicatory machinery for crimes against religion. It had all the trappings of the court, with a system of rules, proceedings, trials, jail, judges of Inquisition, clerks and jailors. It also periodically conducted the dreaded "Auto de fes" during which those condemned to death by the tribunal were burnt alive. The Inquisition tribunal was based on the inquisitorial system where the judge acted as the truth seeker. The tribunal had jurisdiction on crimes like heresy, blasphemy etc. Though theoretically its jurisdiction extended to Christians and neo converts only, the early missionary church attempted to extend it over the Hindus also with the reasoning that " the behaviors of the Hindus had scandalized the neo converts". Because of the support of the Church and the administration, its power and stature grew over time. It also had powers to confiscate property of the accused apart from condemning them to death by burning on the stake.

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The Palace of the Inquisition

In Goa, the Inquisition tribunal was held at the Palace of the Inquisition, at Old Goa. It stood near the Se Cathedral, south of its courtyard. It was the former residence of the Sabayo before the conquest and the early Viceroys after the conquest. In1554 it became the Palace of the Inquisition, known as the "Orlem Gor" by the locals. It was three storied high, contained many halls and chambers, one of which was called as the Mesa de Santo Officio, decked with green curtains wherein stood  a huge Crucifix. Tradition has it that when an individual charged with witchcraft was placed before this crucifix, a thrill suddenly passed through his body, he would tremble and then drop senseless on the floor. 

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The Santo Officio

The staff of the Inquisition consisted ordinarily of three Inquisitors, who were the principal functionaries entrusted with the direction of the Santo Officio, a designation commonly applied to the Inquisition. These functionaries had their deputies in Salcette and Bardez and other areas of the Portuguese occupied Asia. Under the immediate control of the Inquisitors were various officials both with and without pay. These included the Familiares de Santo Officio, the arresting officials.

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Auto da Fes

The "Auto da Fes" took place once every two or three years. On the day of the ceremony, the prisoners were dressed in black, with black stripes. Those condemned wore a red cross painted on a yellow cloth scarf that was worn over the black dress. The sound of the large "Bell of the Inquisition", heralded the beginning of the "Auto da Fes". At its ringing,  the prisoners  walked out of the Palace in a procession headed by the Dominican Friars with the standard of the Holy Office in front and an effigy of St. Peter. After passing through the streets , they would move to the Cathedral or the Church of St. Francis. Here on one side of the high altar, two dais were raised, one to the right for the Inquisitor and one to the left for the Viceroy and his staff. The prisoners sat on a bench on a gallery in front. A sermon was then preached, and the proceedings of the Inquisition relating to each prisoner read. Then the Confession of the faith and absolution from excommunication was granted to those prisoners whose lives would be spared. This group usually formed a large majority. Those sentenced to death were handed over to the secular authority who burnt them on the stake on the Campo de Sao Lazaro, the next day in the presence of the Viceroy.

Approximately about 71 "Auto da Fes" took place between 1600-1773. About 4046 people were sentenced to various punishments. Of these 3034 were males and 1012 were females. Of those condemned to death by burning on the stake, 105 were men and 16 women. Of these only 54 were alive at the time of burning, 64 had died previously.

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The Suppression

The tribunal of the Inquisition was abolished by a royal letter dated 10th February 1774, on the initiative of the Marquis of Pombal. However on the death of the King of Portugal, Dom Jose I, the Marquis of Pombal lost his influence in court and the Inquisition was re-established by the Queen of Portugal, Donna Maria I in 1779. It did not however retain its original powers and was finally abolished for good in 1812.

The Palace of the Inquisition was closed and soon fell into ruin and was razed to the ground and its debris cleared in 1859. No trace of it remains today at Old Goa.

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Artifacts of the Inquisition

Today, of the artifacts from the time of the Inquisition only the Bell and the Crucifix remain. The "Crucifix of the Inquisition" lies in the Church of St. Sebastian, Fontainhas, Panaji, and the famous "Bell of the Inquisition" rings to good times even today at the Church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception, Panaji.

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Related pages...

History of Goa. Dom Vasco da Gama. Alfonso  de Albuquerque. St. Francis Xavier. Early Buddhist and Jain Influence. Caves of Goa. Monuments of Goa. Museums of Goa.

 

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About Goa. History. Geography. Maps. Travel. Road. Air. Rail. BoatCulture. Sightseeing. Beaches. Churches. Temples. Monuments. Museums. Caves. Flora & FaunaDining. Cuisine. Restaurants. FAQ for tourists. Customs formalities. Banks. Currency Exchange. Police & Law. Emergency Phone nos. Internet Cafes. Foreign Missions. Panaji. Margao. Mapusa. Vasco da Gama. Ponda. Old Goa. Arambol. Bambolim. Miramar. Dona Paula. Calangute. Candolim. Baga. Vagator. Anjuna. Colva. Benaulim. Majorda. Palolem. Dudhsagar. Mayem Lake
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Copyright 2000 Goa Central. Com. All rights reserved.
Revised: April 29, 2001 .