The beautiful and imposing, stark white façade of the Church of St. Andrew the apostle is one of the favourite tourist sites for visitors to the city of Vasco. The stately and gracious building is over 400 years old and has been well-maintained and renovated on several occasions.
The church of St. Andrew is a beloved monument of the people of Vasco and is still very much a functioning parish. The biggest feast here is the feast of St. Andrew on the 30th of November, a must attend for those in Goa at the time.
This church has a long and arduous history which speaks to the tenacity of the people who rebuilt the church several times. The original church was built in 1570 by the Jesuit priests who had made their way to Goa. The inaugural mass took place on the 5th of April 1970.
This structure was later overrun by the armies of Adil Shah and razed to the ground in 1578. However, the Portuguese regained control of the territory and the Viceroy of Goa Ferrao Teles de Menezes ordered a beautiful church to be constructed of laterite stone and lime in 1594. The church had an awe-inspiring façade that was destroyed in 1950. After the construction of the main building, the original peak gable was restructured with the addition of Neo-Gothic features.
Although the parochial house is relatively recent addition to the church building, it has been tastefully integrated into the original structure. This took place under the aegis of Fr. Couto in 1989. The church grounds also have a grotto dedicated to Our Lady of Fatima and a statue of Joseph Vaz on the eastern side of the church.
Despite frequent reconstruction and renovation, the church façade and building remains an imposing and traditional structure. The stark white façade of the church stands fully three storeys high with five bay windows. The façade was reconstructed after its destruction in 1950 with the addition of Neo-Gothic architectural features.
The prominent feature of the façade is the pointed arches that surmount the apertures in it. At the apex of the central gable, is the insignia of St. Andrew’s cross. The height of structure is accentuated by the absence of cornices. There is a narrow tri-panelled window situated in the tower bay.
The central gable of the church rises high above the twin towers that flank it on either side. The finials are of the tapering type.
The church of St. Andrew in Vasco is laid out in the traditional cruciform shape with a single nave running the length of the church. The nave is bordered on either side by galleries and lit with old-fashioned, antique chandeliers.
The ceiling of the church is rib-vaulted with a barrel vault over the altar and reredos, which is not as high as the rest of the church ceiling. The altar is back by a carved a gilded reredos with niches for the images of the saints.
The church also boasts a number of interesting and well-executed carvings on the walls. There are two additional carved and gilded altars on either side of the main one.
The feast of St. Andrew is celebrated on the 30th of November every year with great pomp and ceremony. St. Andrew was one of the 12 apostles of Jesus and is heralded as the patron saint of fishermen and spinsters. It is unsurprising therefore, that the largest church in the sea-faring and fishing town of Vasco is dedicated to him.
According to the beliefs of the locals, single ladies who are seeking a partner should join in the feast celebrations with all the fervour that they can muster, and their future partner will be revealed to them.
No visit to the town of Vasco can be considered complete without a stop and the church of St. Andrew the Apostle. Colloquially known as the Igreja dos Santo Andre, the church is prominent feature of the city and a heritage monument.