St Paul's College & Rachol Seminary

The Rachol Seminary celebrates in June 2010, the fourth centenary of its existence. We shall trace in this article the genesis of priestly formation in Goa in the two Institutions, namely, the St Paul's College, that preceeded and Rachol that started side by side and continues serving the Church of Goa and other dioceses, till today.

When the Portuguese occupied the Old Conquests of Goa, namely, Tiswaddi in 1510 and Bardez and Salcete in 1543, they sought the help of religious orders for the work of evangelization. The Franciscans had entered Goa with the armies of Afonso de Albuquerque in 1510 and had opened their first house in the city of Goa (today's Old Goa) by 1518. Goa was raised to a diocese in 1533/4, when only Franciscans were active. In 1541, the Franciscan Friar Diogo de Borba was instrumental in establishing the Confraternity of the Holy Faith with the help of a coterie of Portuguese laymen holding high Government Offices, which included the Governor D. Estevao de Gama, the Secretary Ferhao Rodrigues de Castelo .Branco, the Treasurer Cosme Anes and the Vicar General Miguel Vas, for the spread of the Catholic Faith1.

Seminary of the Holy Faith

It was the above mentioned Confraternity that decided, in 1541, to start a Seminary which would cater to the "education of children of all Asiatic nationalities: canarese2, decanis of the north, malabaris, Sinhalese, pegus, malays, Javanese, Chinese and abyssinians so that the torch of Faith might be taken to the whole East"3. Goa was thus among the first dioceses in the world to think of Seminary education for the formation of secular priests. Only after the Council of Trent (1563 - 1578) was Seminary education made compulsory for all dioceses by the Catholic Church.

The Franciscan, Friar Diogo de Borba, was placed at the helm of this Seminary. Initially in 1541, it had 20 candidates from all the above nationalities, being taught first the rudiments of Portuguese and then of Latin. It was named "Seminary of the Holy Faith". On 10th November 1541 the construction of the building to house the candidates was started and completed by end of the year 15424. After St Francis Xavier landed in Goa in May 1552, he accepted to be at the helm of this Seminary, but by September 20 of the same year, he left for South India, keeping it again in the hands of Friar Diogo de Borba5. In 1543, there were 60 candidates on the rolls6. As the years passed, while Xavier was in the missions, the Seminary had grown with european, luso-asian (mestizzos : sons of mixed parentage ) and indigenous (native) candidates.

It was only in 1548 that the Seminary came under the full control of the Jesuits and St. Francis Xavier appointed Fr Antonio Gomes sj as its Rector, and left for Japan, sailing from Cochin in January 1549. Xavier had a great vision and dream of an indigenous Church that would provide for its local needs. Fr. Antonio Gomes, however, had different ideas and felt that the priesthood was meant only for the white skin and persecuted the indigenous candidates so much that by 1550, 200 of them ran away, jumping over the walls. When this came to the knowledge of Xavier, he abruptly left Japan on 20th November 1551, leaving his companions to carry on, though he was doing good work there, and hastened to Goa. On reaching Cochin, he got a letter, sent two years earlier, from Ignatius de Loyola, appointing him the first Provincial of the Jesuits in the East. In this capacity, Xavier dismissed, in February 1552, some irregular Jesuits and exiled Antonio Gomes to Diu. He even left with the latter's Rector a closed envelope containing the order of outright dismissal to be given to Gomes in case he dared to step out of Diu7. Xavier admitted to Ignatius in his letter that it had been a great blunder to appoint Antonio Gomes as Rector. He had been a good preacher and missionary but not fit for the Rector's post. Xavier ordered the re-admission of native candidates to the Seminary and immediately left for his unsuccessful rendezvous with China. He died in Sangchevam (Sancian) island on the borders of China in December 1552.

Meanwhile, the Dominicans had come to Goa in 1548. Therefore, in 1555, the Viceroy D. Antao de Noronha distributed the territory of Goa, then under Portuguese control, among the three religious orders: Franciscans got Bardez, Dominicans were given 15 villages in the north-western sector of Tiswaddi (Ilhas) and the Jesuits got the remaining 15 villages of Ilhas and the whole of Salcete for evangelization8. In 1557, Goa was raised to an Archdiocese with Cochin and Malacca as suffragan dioceses. In 1558, the first Goan secular candidate, Andre Vaz from Carambolim, one of those re­admitted under Xavier's orders in 1552, was ordained to the priesthood9. In course of time, under the Patronage of the King of Portugal, these religious orders Christianized the people and built beautiful parish Churches and Chapels in the villages entrusted to them, the secular priests working under them. Thereafter other religious orders, as the Augustinians, the Carmelites, the Theatines and the Hospitallers of St John of God established their houses in the city of Goa (Old Goa), for recruitment and training in order to work in the Padroado missions of the East. However, until 1700, no native candidate was admitted to any of these religious orders. At this juncture the native Goan Community of the Cross of Miracles was founded in 1682 by Fr.Pascoal da Costa Jeremias. Blessed Joseph Vaz joined it in 1685 and organized it into the Oratorian Congregation anf left for Ceylon. (Sri Lanka).


Going back to our narration of the Seminary of the Holy Faith, eventually after 1548, it developed under the Jesuits, into the famous St. Paul's College. It trained not only the Jesuit and secular candidates in great numbers for the priesthood, but also those of the other religious orders mentioned above, as well as laymen who wanted to follow other professions. At that time all Institutes of higher education, even in Europe lectured mostly Arts, Philosophy and Theology for any degree, subjects that were also compulsory for the Priesthood. The French traveler, Pyrard de la Raval, who visited Goa at the beginning of the 17th century, said that the College of St Paul with the variety of the subjects it taught could rightly be called an Oriental University. The students were educated free of charge. Pyrard and many other European travelers, who visited the College, have recorded that at this time it had 3000 students on its rolls, coming from all the missions of Asia besides European students10. Its Library was one of the biggest in Asia, and the first Printing Press was mounted in its premises. To cater to such a huge student population, St Paul's developed, so to say, its own "Study Colonies". Thus, in 1570 the Jesuits bought a house on the Monte do Rosario in the city of Goa (Old Goa), below the present Sta. Monica's Convent. At first they named it St Rock's and later from 1610, New College of St. Paul. There they transferred some of the classes, making a part of the Old College their Novitiate, which was later on transferred to their Casa Professa after the Bom Jesus Basilica was built, to enshrine the relics of St Francis Xavier11. Besides there were other affiliate study houses, such as the College of the Most Holy Name of Jesus (Santa Rosalia), the College of the Mother of God, villa houses in Siridao, Curca and other surrounding villages.

Simultaneously, the Dominicans had established their "Academy of St Thomas Aquinas" first in Panjim in 1568 and then shifted it to Panelim in the city of Goa (Old Goa) in 1596 . By late 17th century as the buildings of St Paul's showed signs of weakness, this Academy started gaining prominence, as it was frequented by candidates of other religious orders and also by secular candidates. For example, Bl. Joseph Vas, the Apostle of Kanara and Sri Lanka, after studying Arts and Humanitiesat the Jesuit St Paul's College, completed his Philosophy and Theology at this Dominican Academy, and was ordained a secular priest in 167613.

St Paul's continued till 1759, when the Jesuits were suppressed, their Casa Professa and the Church were handed over to the Congregation of St Vincent de Paul (Vincentines or Lazarists as they were called), and the principal diocesan Seminary was established there. However, after 20 years it became extinct, and the students were shifted to Chorao14, where, meanwhile, a new Seminary for native priests had been opened, which went on from 1761 to 1779 and from 1781 to 1859, then closed once for all. The huge old St Paul's edifice had become worn out and uninhabitable and so was demolished at this juncture.


Coming now to Salcete, when the Franciscan D. Caspar Leao Pereira arrived as the first Archbishop of Goa in December 1560, there was no Church in the entire Taluka of Salcete, only one military Chapel attached to the Fort of Rachol which had come in the possession of the Portuguese in 1543. The Jesuits entered Salcete on 1st May 1560 through Cortalim. Only on 3rd January 1566 a house with the surrounding property in Rachol was donated to the Jesuits by the 9th Viceroy D. Antao de Noronha. When the Jesuit Fr. Luis de Gois took possession of the house in the name of the College of St Paul, the Jesuits thought of installing there a college for the education of the natives. The boy King of Portugal, D. Sebastiao, donated to the college in project, the income of the properties of the demolished temples, by his Royal letter dated 23rd March 1569. The Regent King of Portugal, Cardinal D. Henrique, confirmed for ever, the donation of the boy-King, his nephew, by an alvara (order) dated 9th March 1579.

However, when the idea materialized, the Jesuits established the College, not in Rachol, but in Margao, attached to the Holy Spirit Church. But they had to repent for it, as immediately thereafter in 1579 itself, the Moors who (under the Adil Khan of Bijapur were the rulers of what became after 1790 the New Conquests of Goa and) were frequently invading Salcete, burnt down the institution. Therefore, in 1580, Bl. Afonso Pacheco sj, being the Rector, the College was shifted to Rachol. He was succeeded by Blessed Rodolfo Aquaviva sj as Rector on 8th July 1583, just a week before their martyrdom at Cuncolim. The College remained in Rachol under other Jesuit Rectors till May 1584, when under orders of the Provincial, Fr. Alexandre Valignano sj, it was again shifted back to the houses in Margao. Later, in the Third Jesuit Congregation held in 1588, it was felt that Margao was prone to attacks of the enemies, and so permission was asked from the Jesuit General to transfer the College back to Rachol. The permission was granted with much reluctance, on consideration that Rachol was a much fortified area, as far as defenses were concerned.

A new edifice (presently housing the Patriarchal Seminary of Rachol), was constructed for this College. Its foundation stone was laid on 1st November 1606, and the first Mass was sung on the vespers of All Saints in 1609. And in June 1610 the College was definitively shifted to the new edifice. In Margao, it had been named as College of the Holy Spirit. In Rachol it was at first called College of All the Saints and later College of St. Ignatius. This College continued to be in the hands of the Jesuits for a century and a half. As said above, Rachol had been stated as a Jesuit College for Salcete from 1610, but gradually it had adopted the curriculum for training secular priests from 1646, which went on till their expulsion by decrees of the Prime Minister of Portugal, Marquis de Pombal, dated 3rd September 1759 and 1st April 176015.

The 21st Archbishop of Goa, D. Antonio Taveira de Neiva Brum e Silveira, in virtue of the Royal letter of 4th April 1761, erected the Diocesan Seminary of the Good Shepherd under the protection of the Child Jesus by his provision of 4 January 1762 in the edifice of this extinct Jesuit College of Rachol, and entrusted it to the direction of the native Oratorians of St Philip Nery. However in 1774, by the tacit approval of the Superior Government, the ruling Royal Treasury Junta of Goa, abruptly suppressed the Rachol Seminary on the pretext that certain conditions were not being fulfilled, the real reason being of economy. As the subsidy for the maintenance of the Seminary was withheld, the Oratorians withdrew from the management. However much they tried, for seven years, the Archbishops of Goa could not get the Seminary subsidy restored.

Because of the demands made by the people of Salcete and the Municipality of Margao, came the Order of the Court of Portugal, dated 29th March 1781, to restore the Rachol Seminary. The Queen of Portugal, D.Maria I, sent two priests of the Congregation of St Vincent de Paul (Vincentines or Lazarists) to manage the institution. One of them was Antonio Luis de Santos and the other Manuel Correia Valente. The latter was appointed the Rector of the Seminary. Another 3 Italian priests of the Vincentines, namely, Jose Agostinho Vila, Paulo Romualdo Ansaloni and Francisco Papareli also helped in the formation. With the retirement of the Vincentines, the Seminary was closed from 1789 to 1793. Then it was again entrusted to the Goan Oratorians who manned it till the expulsion of all Religious Orders from Goa in 1835. From 1835, the Seminary has been managed by the secular clergy of the Archdiocese, appointed by the Prelate.16

Needless to say, constant changes in the staff (Vincentines, Oratorians and seculars) the locality (Old Goa, Chorao, Rachol) and the unhealthy intervention of the State in Church affairs ,leading to frequent interruption of studies and closures, proved fatal to the proper training of the Seminarians. The standard of the clergy came down considerably17. The wild fire of the Padroado-Propaganda conflict engulfing all the missions of India and the east at this time worsened the situation for the Goan clergy 8. The Propaganda Vicars Apostolic accused the Goan priests of being rude and ignorant men, sent by the Goan ecclesiastical authorities only to fight and defend the Padroado rights against their jurisdiction and creating schism among their faithful 9. However the Vicars Apostolic did not have sufficient clergy to man their Vicariates. Goa had at a time over 1000 secular native priests (Portuguese documents in 1781 speak of 3000 priests)20 who were supplied not only to Padroado territories but also to the Propaganda Vicariates Apostolic and often came in conflict with them. Dr George Mark Maraes, however, says about them, "The Goan clergy have rendered memorable services in bearing the burden of the day and its scorching heat at the task of keeping Catholicism alive and extending its bounds alone and unassisted from Comorin point to Everest peak for well-nigh two hundred years21. It was left to the first Patriarch of Goa, D. Antonio Sebastiao Valente, to raise the standard of formation very high so that Pope Leo XIII granted the Rachol Seminary in 1887 the faculty of conferring the degree of Bachelor in Divinity. With this, the Rachol Seminary produced eminent clergymen, a galaxy which included a long list of preachers, missionaries, philosophers, theologians, Canonists, Scripture scholars, Bishops, Councillors, Parliamentarians, University Professors and journalists: over 70 of whom, Fr. Amaro Pinto Lobo has, in 1933, named in the above quoted Memoria Historico-Ecclesiastica commemorating the 4th centenary of the foundation of the Diocese of Goa (1533 to "1933)"". The Rachoi Seminary continues to this day its dedicated sendees by supplying worthy ministers to the Church of Goa and the world at large, not only in the parishes and missions in the Archdiocese of Goa to other dioceses in different parts of India and Asia, but also abroad in Africa. Venezuela, Europe and USA and elsewhere, wherever the ecclesiastical authorities, seeing their needs decide to send them or they voluntarily offer to serve. Crescat etfloreat amplius.


1  Amaro Pinto Lobo, Memoria Historico-Eclesiastica da Arquidiocese de Goa em
commemoracao do quadricentenario da sua ereccao Canonica, 1533-1933, Tip."A
Voz de S.Francisco Xavier",Nova Goa, 1933 p 275

2At first the Portuguese called the inhabitants of Goa as canarins or canarese.

3   Amaro Pinto Lobo Memoria op cit p 275

4  Ibidem

5  Achilles  Meersman  ofm,  The Ancient Franciscan  Provinces  of India,  Christian
Literature Society Press, Bangalore, 1971, p 57

Amaro Pinto Lobo, Memoria op cit p p 276

Schurhammer & Wicki, Epistolae S. Francisci Xaverii, Rome 1944 Vol II p 382
s Idem, Vollp 161

9  CJ. Costa, Goa's religious links with Japan through St Francis Xavier, Boletim do
Institute Menezes Braganza, Panjim, Goa, 1993, No 169, p 173-194

10     Msgr Agapito Lourenco, Utrum fuerit schisma Goanum, Goa, Apud edibus Seminarii
Rachollensis, 1947, p 58ff.

11   Amaro Pinto lobo, Memoria, op cit, p 56-57

12    Ibidem

13   CJ.Costa, Life and Achievements of Bl. Joseph Vaz, Pilar Publications, Pilar, Goa, 2nd
ed. 2004, p 14ff

14    Amaro Pinto Lobo, Memoria op cit p 57

15  Carlos Merces de Melo, The Recruitment and formation of the Native Clergy in India,
16th to 19th century:
An historico-canonical study - Agencia Geral do Ultramar, Lisboa,
1955. p 181 ff

16    Amaro Pinto Lobo, Memoria op cit p 275-283.

17     Carlos Merces de Melo, The Recruitment op cit p 181ff

18  C. J. Costa, A Missiological Conflict between Padroado and Propaganda in the
East, Pilar Publications, 1997 pp 51 - 68 & 75 - 82

19     Visconde Theodore de Bussieres, Historia do Scisma Portugues na India, translated
from French to Portuguese, Lisboa, Tipografia do L.C. de Cunha Costa do Castelo No
15, 1854, pp 40-45

20 Carlos Merces de Melo, The Recruitment op cit p 173

21   Perumalil  and   Hambye  eds.,  Christisnity in  India  - A  history  in  ecumenical
perspective, Prakashan Publications, Alleppey, Ch VII, Part II, p 129.

22 C. J. Costa, A Missiological Conflict op cit pp 29 & 84 - 103. This work has tried to
update the list of the Memoria by addition of new Bishops of Goan origin missionaries
and other ecclesiastical dignitaries, whether trained in Rachol or elsewhere, who have
served or are serving the Church even today.

 By Fr. Cosme Jose Costa sfx

Golden Verse

1Korintkarank 7:38

Mhonnttôch aplê ankvar hoklê lagim logn zata to borem korta; ani logn zaina to odik borem korta.