St Thomas Church, Old Goa

St Thomas Church, Old Goa is one of the extinct Goan Churches. The St Thomas Church, Old Goa was located close to the Church of St Lazarus which is also extinct now. This area had a number of religious structures, most notable among them being The Church of St Thomas, Old Goa.  Thomas, One of the twelve apostles of Jesus is said to have preached the gospel in India. Since the discovery of the sea route to India, the Portuguese have been searching for the body of the apostle Saint Thomas, which is said to be buried in Mylapore in Tamil Nadu.

The Viceroy of Goa, Dom Francisco de Almeida in 1507 sent 4 representatives to the Coromandel Coast in search of the body. However it was only in 1522, that the body was found by Manuel de Frias, the Head of the Portuguese settlements along the Coromandel Coast. The Portuguese Government of Goa in accordance with instructions received from Portugal, ordered the extensive repairs of the church where the body of St Thomas was found.  The remains of the body of St Thomas along with a spear with which he was killed was put in a richly decorated case which was then hidden in a secret location in the church, by the Vicar Fr Alvaro Penteado for fear of it being stolen. In 1533, the body was again moved to another undisclosed location by Fr Ugo Nicolay.

To ensure the relics of St Thomas were completely secure and at the same time could be venerated by the faithful. The Viceroy of Goa, Dom Constantino de Braganca acting under instructions received from the Portuguese Government in 1560 ordered the relics to be brought to Goa. The Christians of Mylapore however were devoutly attached to the saint and would not allow the transfer of the Saints relics. The delegates which were sent to bring the body could only bring back with them a bone and a few religious articles of the Saint.

This bone and the other relics were kept in this Goan Church which was dedicated to St Thomas in Old Goa. The Church of St Thomas in Old Goa belonged to a large Parish which began to wither over a period of time. This Goan church was then known as the old St Thomas Church. By 1720, the number of Parishioners of the church of St Thomas, Old Goa dwindled to only around 500. The Church of St Thomas in Old Goa has been described as “The Church of St Thomas the Apostle is in the great street of St Paul’s College. It was made a Parish after the Parishes of Rosario and Luz were formed but it never became a Collegiate. The Church lay in ruins by 1725 and also withered out was the adjoining presbytery. The Vicar does not reside in the Church anymore but mass is celebrated only on Sundays and feast days. On the day of St Thomas, 21st December, the Canons of the Cathedral and the various deputations of the Convents come to the St Thomas Church, Old Goa in a procession after the high mass at the Cathedral is finished and before the feast mass in the St Thomas Church, Old Goa starts bringing with them the relics of the Saint which is carried to the Cathedral on the eve of the Vespers.

Soon however the Church fell into complete ruin with hardly any traces left of it at present. A new building of a Church which would replace the existing St Thomas Church, Old Goa was commenced but never completed.