Maundy Thursday

The name Maundy is derived from the Latin word mandatum, which means ‘commandment’ and refers to the command Jesus gave to His disciples at the Last Supper – to love one another as He loved them. Maundy Thursday also known as Passion Thursday, Paschal Thursday is the first day of the Paschal Triduum and occurs during the Holy Week.

Triduum is a Latin word, formed from the Latin prefix tri meaning ‘three’ and the Latin word dies ‘day’. A triduum was originally any prayer recited over the course of three days. It is a three-day period of prayer, usually in preparation for an important feast or in celebration of that feast.

The ‘Paschal Triduum’, the three most solemn days of the liturgical year in the Roman Catholic Church, begins on Maundy Thursday (Holy Thursday) and ends with the Easter Vigil.  It commemorates the Paschal Mystery, i.e. the passion, death, burial and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Although the Liturgical season of Lent ends with the beginning of the Paschal Triduum, the fasting, abstinence and prayers that marked  Lent continues until the noon of Holy Saturday, when preparations for the Easter Vigil begin.

Maundy Thursday services are typically more solemn occasions marked by the shadow of Jesus’ betrayal. While different denominations among the Christians observe Maundy Thursday in their own distinct ways, two important biblical events are the primary focus of Maundy Thursday.

The first event is the commemoration of Jesus Christ’s institution of the Holy Eucharist during the Last Supper as described in the Holy Bible. The second event is the commemoration of the practice of ceremonial washing of the feet to imitate Jesus, who washed his disciples’ feet before the Last Supper as a sign of humility and love. Besides these, Maundy Thursday also commemorates the events that took place on the night before the crucifixion of Jesus.

This illustration of the Last Supper is taken from one of the two volumes of the Bible  from the collection of the Museum of Christian Art, Old Goa. Both the volumes of the Bible are leather bound with brass clasps while the text is printed on paper. They belong to the 18th century and were donated by Canon Caetano da Cruz Fernandes from Benaulim, Goa.

The text in both the Volumes is in Latin while the illustrations of Biblical scenes are described in six different languages (Greek, English, German, Latin, French and Dutch).

India and the World: the meaning of Goa

Look at the map from the perspective of land borders, and India’s
smallest state is an insignificant pinprick of territory tucked away
on a western coastal extremity of the subcontinent. But turn the
prospect around to think of the vast oceans as the main location of
cultural flow, contact and exchanges that they are, and you really
begin to understand the essential importance of entrepots. As Ranjit
Hoskote said earlier this week in Panaji, that switch in outlook is
crucial to understanding Goa’s function over millennia as an important
crucible of “entanglements, exchanges and transfusions”.

Hoskote was hosting an “outreach programme” that is collateral to the
exhibition, ‘India and the World: A History in Nine Stories’, at the
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya in Mumbai. This
collaboration between the host institution, the British Museum in
London and the National Museum in New Delhi brought together hundreds
of objects from the main partners as well as 20 smaller museums and
private collections across India. The Museum of Christian Art in Old
Goa lent its showstopper monstrance in silver, and was the host of the
Panjim event, ‘In the shade of the Calpataru’.

Another of the evening’s speakers, Delhi-based academic Jonathan Gil
Harris reiterated Hoskote’s point that it is important to look at some
of the broader questions of identity, culture and tradition from the
perspective of Goa. He said that this required an acknowledgement that
“all culture is actually conversation, indeed a function of
translation”. This is one of the main themes of his 2015-released
book, ‘The First Firangis: Remarkable Stories of Heroes, Healers,
Charlatans, Courtesans & other Foreigners who Became Indian’. That
book of history is full of examples of transnational characters,
including Garcia da Orta (‘the Hakeem of Bombay and Ahmednagar’),
Thomas Stephens (‘Patri Guru, the Kavi of Rachol’) and Juliana Dias da
Costa (‘the Jagirdar of Jogabai’).

In his individual presentation preceding a panel discussion, Hoskote
spoke about Jose Custodio (Abbe) de Faria, the Candolim-born priest
who achieved significant notoriety in Rome and Lisbon before
intriguing at considerable length in post-revolutionary France in the
late 18th century. That journey from India to Europe is the precise
opposite to what was accomplished by Thomas Stephens in the 16th
century. Gil Harris recounted how the Oxford-educated Englishman wrote
the first printed grammar of any Asian language on Konkani (in 1640),
Arte da Lingoa Canarim, and later the singular Krista Purana in a
unique mixture of Marathi and Konkani that is profoundly influenced by
both Greek classical literature as well as his contemporary, the great
bhakti poet Eknath.

One of India’s leading tabla players, the scholarly Aneesh Pradhan
described the trajectory of Kesarbai Kerkar, who was born into a
devadasi family in Goa in 1892, then shifted to colonial Bombay to
pursue the study of Hindustani music in her teens, and eventually
became such a celebrated exponent that hers was the only Indian voice
included on the gold-plated Voyager Golden Record compilation of great
world music that was sent into space on board the US’ Voyager 1 and 2
spacecraft in 1977. Here too was a story of infinite adaptability and
ambitious transformation, as the girl from Keri became imperious Padma
Bhushan award-winning “Surashree” legend.

Three life stories that played out in markedly different spaces in
varying time periods. Yet, there are deep resonances. One intriguing
suggestion made by Gil Harris was those who carry secrets eventually
drive cultural production. This certainly makes sense with regard to
the spectacular flowering of Goan aesthetics throughout the 19th
century, with its bountiful efflorescence of a new architecture,
music, cuisine and artistic approach that is poised confidently
between East and West. The secret, so to speak, is complexity (which
Hoskote astutely pointed out is another word for complicity). With
political and economic clout, the Goans of the time felt comfortable
expressing the fullness of their identity, some of which had fallen
dormant in the face of overt colonial intolerance.

India is currently lurching through an era of impositions on its
age-old pluralist values. Instead of unity in diversity, the
prevailing mantra appears to be uniformity. In this cultural
strangulation, Goa stands out to continually confound the would-be
homogenizers. Here, the narrow communal calculus winds up with a
bottom line of zero. Here, humanism trumps bigotry almost every time.
It is an increasingly invaluable example for the rest of India and the

Article by Vivek Menezes.

This article first appeared in the Times of India Goa edition on 17th february 2018.

The writer is a photographer and a widely published columnist. The views expressed are personal.

Goa’s greatest museum needs our help

The greatest Indian painter of the 20th century was born in Saligao,
but was never happy about it. Francis Newton Souza had suffered a
scarring bout of smallpox at a young age, about which he wrote,
“Better had I died. Would have saved me a lot of trouble. I would not
have had to bear an artist’s tormented soul, create art in a country
that despises her artists and is ignorant about her heritage.”

In that case he was talking generally about India, but most of the
hurt came directly from Goa.

Right until his death in 2003, this spectacularly accomplished artist
revisited his ancestral roots, only to be ignored. When he tried to
donate some masterpieces to his beloved homeland, he was rejected and
humiliated. Now many of those same ignorant people call him “my
favourite artist.”

Souza isn’t an isolated case. Goa has produced an extraordinary string
of amazing artists, but they have always remained almost entirely
unknown amongst their own people. It’s a unique case in the world,
where a highly productive culture purposely devalues its own most
significant achievers. Thus, until it closed recently, the state
museum was easily the worst in the country, displaying almost nothing
noteworthy across multiple fields in which Goan artists and craftsmen
have excelled.

Now there is nothing, with nothing better planned either. To see gems
from the state’s tradition, you need to travel to London or New Delhi.

There are three exceptions to this depressing rule. Subodh Kerkar’s
bravura Museum of Goa (MOG) has championed Goan art from inception.
Many artists of India’s smallest state produced their best work in
response to the opportunity to exhibit in the largest private space in
the country.

Another invaluable service is rendered by Lisbon-headquartered
Fundacao Oriente, which houses the stunning Trindade family archive at
its delegation premises in Panaji. No one should miss the opportunity
to experience the landmark paintings by the ‘Rembrandt of India’
Antonio Xavier Trindade, and, less often, his remarkably talented
daughter Angela. It should be a matter for serious searching
introspection that this Portuguese organization handles (very well) a
cultural responsibility where Goa’s state institutions have
comprehensively failed.

Even compared to these well-intentioned efforts, the Museum of
Christian Art in Old Goa is in a category by itself. An outstanding
labour of love, and single-minded purpose by tireless trustee
Nascimento (Nasci) de Souza, and wonderfully capable curator Natasha
Fernandes, it is the only world class museum in a heritage landscape
brimming over with treasures that usually only deteriorate and get
destroyed as time passes inexorably.

It is true this fine institution is poorly named. The term “Christian
art” is alienating, inadequate and strictly inaccurate. The marvellous
objects in this collection were created from seamless interplay
between East and West, moulded by hands belonging to artisans of every

If you look with open eyes, you will find Krishna, as well as the
Nagadevata, along with Islamic motifs. Thus “Sacred Art” would be
better, and “Museum of Old Goa” even more to the point. But while the
name change is necessary, it would only affect perception. The reality
is already a first-class display of artistry of the highest order:
painting, sculpture, embroidery, ivories, silver. The museum is
absolutely priceless.

In a laundry list of impressive achievements by the tiny team running
this invaluable institution, its willingness and capacity to
collaborate stands out. Over 20 years of its existence, including
moving from its original home in Rachol to the mammoth Santa Monica
convent, it has flourished in partnership with INTACH (The Indian
National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage) and the Calouste
Gulbenkian Foundation (which is also based in Lisbon).

Both national and state governments have been unstintingly generous in
their support. When then-chief minister Manohar Parrikar came to its
inaugural in Old Goa 15 years ago, he immediately pledged state
support to cover all security costs. That promise has been kept, right
into the present.

Now MOCA has plans to expand and improve, and it needs to bolster its
budget to add to sizable grants already pledged by the Ministry of
Culture in Delhi, and other donors. Given its proven competence, and
precisely because it stands alone in doing vital work to restore,
preserve and showcase Goan artistic genius from across the ages, this
institution clearly merits and deserves unstinting support from
individuals and organizations across the world, but most particularly
from Goa and Goans. Go to the museum, or check its website for how to

This article first appeared in the Times of India Goa edition on 18th Ocotber 2017

Article by Vivek Menezes

The writer is a photographer and a widely published columnist. Views expressed are personal.


After many years of intensive painstaking restoration work, the 450 year old Church of Santa Monica will be opened to the public on Friday 10th June 2016. At 4.30 p.m., there will be a Presentation on the works carried out, followed by the formal opening by the Archbishop of Goa.

The 450 year old Church of Santa Monica, a part of the Convent of Santa Monica (Asia’s first and largest Convent) in Old Goa, and a State protected Monument, has been restored by the Museum of Christian Art Goa with financial assistance from the Directorate of Archives and Archaeology, Government of Goa.

This beautiful church with its exquisite altars, pulpit, miraculous crucifix, statues, paintings and art objects was in desperate need of repair and restoration, and preservation for posterity. The Archdiocese through the Museum of Christian Art Goa sought the technical assistance of the conservation architect, Ketak Nachinolkar and two internationally recognized art restorers, the late Miguel Mateus and Jose Pestana of Portugal to carry out an in-depth study of the state of the church building, its altars, pulpit, statues, and paintings, the extent of deterioration and to draw up a comprehensive restoration project proposal. The proposal was approved by the State Government and provided a grant of Rs. 1.3 crores in two phases and the work entrusted to the conservation architect and the two expert art restorers and their teams.

Restoration work on the building involved complete removal of the cement plaster from the walls, internally and externally and its replacement with the original mud and lime plaster, rebuilding the entire roof whose members were severely damaged the removal of the damaged red cement flooring to reveal the original stone flooring. Removal of the much damaged wooden pulpit revealed the original beautiful carved stone pulpit and the graffito work which surrounded it. The altars needed extensive work as much of the wood work had decayed either due to ingress of moisture or attacked by termites. The statues and paintings all needed a great deal of attention. Original graffito was discovered under layers of lime wash and these have been restored.

The church will now be open to worshipers for veneration at the Miraculous Cross popularly known as the Weeping Cross and to visitors to appreciate the artistic and architectural beauty of the church. The church will also be the venue for sacred music concerts and for temporary art exhibitions organized by the Museum of Christian Art.

Persentation of “A plan for the Reorganisation and Upgradation of the Museum of Christian Art”

The Archbishop’s House, Panjim, on Tuesday 30th. June 2015, was the venue for an excellent Presentation by The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation on ” A PLAN FOR THE REORGANIZATION AND UPGRADATION OF THE MUSEUM OF CHRISTIAN ART, GOA”  The proposed reorganization Plan is designed to bring the Museum abreast of the latest International standards of Museuology and Museuography.

The Presentation was well attended by a large number of dignitaries and well wishers of the Museum. Among those present, apart from the host, The Archbishop of Goa, Most Rev Filipe Neri Ferrao, were Professor Eduardo Marcal Grilo, Senior Trustee of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Portugal, Honourable Smt. Alina Saldanha, Minister of Museums, Government of Goa, His Excellency Jorge Oliveira Roza, Ambassador for Portugal in India, Honourable Rui Carvalho Baceira, Consul for Portugal in Goa, Shri Nilesh Cabral, Chairman GTDC, Shri Virendra Kumar, Secretary Museums, Government of Goa, Shri Amey Abhayankar,Director of Tourism, Smt. Radha Bhave, Director of Museums and many other distinguished persons from Government, Commerce and Industry.

The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon, Portugal who, apart from INTACH (The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage) New Delhi, have been collaborating with the Museum of Christian Art, Goa since its inception over 20 years ago, responded to the Museum’s request for assistance in drawing up a well structured Plan for the reorganization and upgradation of the Museum in keeping with the best practices in Museums globally as well as greatly enhance the visitor’s experience.

The Presentation made by Architect Rita Albergaria of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation followed many months of hard work by a team of Museologists and Architects of the Foundation and the Museum of Christian Art, and a detailed study of the needs of the Museum in all its aspects. The Proposed Plan includes museographic interventions which would help preserve the Museum’s valuable art objects for the future and would include improved show cases as well  as appropriate lighting and humidity. The plan also includes the provision of an elevator to allow access for the disabled to the mezzanine floor -a facility which does not exist at present.

The Presentation was acknowledged by all as being thorough, interesting and embracing all aspects of display, visitor experience and preservation of art objects. Moreover the presentation was of special interest to all, as the proposals applied equally to all other Museum’s desirous of upgradation to current International standards ”

Preparation of Base Documents for care of Christian Art

The Museum of Christian Art, Goa in collaboration with the CSMVS Museum Art Conservation Centre, Mumbai is organising a five day Workshop on ‘Preparation of Base Documents for care of Christian Art’ in Goa. The Workshop will take place at the Gallery Gitanjali, Panjim from 6th – 10th August, 2013. The workshop is open to functionaries of churches, collections, museums and others.

A review of houses of worship shows that there is an urgent need to arrest the deterioration and ultimate loss of the objects of ecclesiastical art in collections, homes, and parishes. These objects could well be the ones that are even to this day being used in day to day rituals and prayer, like paintings, manuscripts, vestments, chalices, decorative wood, sculptures, relics etc. This workshop will address these concerns and enable the participants to prepare a framework for a series of base documents for the care of Christian art, with special reference to their own collections.

The workshop is being supported by the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust, Museum of Christian Art, Goa and Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangralaya, Mumbai.

The workshop leader is Mr. Anupam Sah, Head of Art Conservation , Research and Training, CSMVS Museum Art Conservation Centre, Mumbai and his team of art conservators as part of the Art Conservation Resurgence Project (Phase I).

The workshop is free. There are limited seats and the last date to register is 10th July, 2013.

For further details contact Museum of Christian Art, Goa.

Ph; 0832-2285299. Email:

International Museum Day @ MOCA 2013

The Museum of Christian Art (MOCA), Old Goa celebrated International Museum Day on 18th May 2013.

On this day, MOCA encouraged the public to visit the Museum by not charging an entry fee.

MOCA also organized various activities for its visitors.

The Seek and Find game @ MOCA gave children an opportunity to observe the art objects on in detail.

The Paper Creation craft activity facilitated by Ms. Milan Khanolkar let the children use newspapers to creatively shape them into baskets and magazine papers were used to make paper jewelry and other trinkets.

Another group of visitors (of different age groups) interested in Working with Threads observed the embroidered textiles at the museum and drew inspiration from some of the motifs to create their needle art on cloth bags. This activity was facilitated by Ms.Aira Mirchandani of Naree Artisans Movement.

The activities for the day ended with a kite flying session for the participants.

Paper creations @ MOCA

Kite Flying @ MOCA

Working with Threads

Needle art

Paper basket

Goa Governor visits Museum of Christian Art

Thursday, 31st January 2013 was another ‘Red Letter’ day for the Museum of Christian Art , Goa with the visit of His Excellency, The Governor of Goa, Bharat Vir Wanchoo and Mrs. Nalini Wanchoo to the Museum in the Santa Monica Convent, Old Goa

Goa Governor visits Museum of Christian ArtThe Governor and Mrs. Wanchoo were received by Vice President, Nascimento de Souza , Members. Fatima Gracias, Maria Fernanda Sousa, Jose Lourenco, Sergio Freitas and Curator Natasha Fernandes of the Museum.

The Governor evinced keen interest in the many exquisitely crafted Christian objects, which besides being of great antiquity value, were perfect examples of a special art form – a symbiosis of two great cultural traditions – Indian and Portuguese.

He took particular note of the richness and uniqueness of the artifacts , the excellent manner in which they were displayed and the high standard of their maintenance and of the Museum in general, endorsing the reputation earned by the Museum as being one of the best maintained in the Country.

The Governor and Mrs Wanchoo also visited the adjoining 400 year old Church of Santa Monica, also known as the Chapel of the Weeping Cross (because of a miraculous Cross venerated by many)- a Church of considerable architectural and historical importance  and which is currently being restored by the Museum of Christian Art with financial assistance from the Government of Goa.

The Governor took particular interest in the work being undertaken on the altars, the pulpit,  statues, paintings and walls and met the Conservation  Architect, Ketak Nachinolkar, Agnelo Fernandes and others carrying out the restoration.

The Governor did the Museum proud by saying that the Museum was a ‘MUST SEE’ for every visitor to Goa

Nascimento de Souza

Vice -President

Museum of Christian Art

Collector’s Day @ MOCA – Ceramic Landscapes by Daniel D’Souza

About two hundred years ago Staffordshire earthenware potters pioneered the transfer printing of decorative designs which opened up a vast new market for reasonably priced dinner and tea – services. Landscape drawn from Italian – near Eastern and Indian sources were popular motifs initially as a result of the Grand tour and British ties with India. In the early nineteen century the British Landscape began to provide a rich source of decoration derived from engraved and printed scenes in topographical volumes. Domestic waves were exported to N. America in vast quantities. Soldiers, administrators and traders were establishing British influence in India and wrote home about the Hindu palaces and temples and the Muslim mosques. For some years therefore the prints on dinner waves were of Italian, near Eastern or Indian scenes.

Originally dark blue, gradually sepia, pink and green prints were introduced. Today landscape wares produced in the first half of the nineteenth century are keenly collected both for their topographical interest (many of the building depicted have disappeared or been altered) and as works of art these scenic illustrations offers a check list of bygone era which have been engulfed by urban sprawl.

Daniel D’Souza is a landscape designer, by profession. He has done his B.Sc (Botany / Horticulture and Gardening) further he went on to do M.Sc (Research) from the Bombay University. He is the pioneer to introduce the Ancient Art of Bonsai in Goa. He was chiefly responsible of the beautification of Panjim City in 2004 – 2007 with beautiful garden, traffic, island, medians etc. He played a major role in the campaign together for Panjim.

Daniel is a serious collector of rare plants, Ceramic landscape ware, British India Coins, stamps, oil lamps, iron keys of Goan houses, nut crackers from Goa and its neighboring states, decanters, hand painted tea pots – milk and sugar pots and mouth blown bottles.

Daniel will be displaying around 20 plates from Indian British scenes depicting Ruins, mosque, battles, monograms and seals, floral and rural life. He will showcase few pieces for the very first time on 15th May – Collector’s Day at MOCA. Be there to get a glimpse of a serious collector’s hobby.

Museum Week @ MOCA 15th – 22nd May 2011

Exhibition of Holy Pictures – 15th – 22nd May 2011

(Collection of Late Amalia Aida de Santa Rita Vas)

Exhibition of Parish Churches of Goa – 15th – 22nd May 2011

Collection of Jose Lourenco

Collector’s Day – 15th May

Time: 4.00 pm – 6.00 pm

Do you have a unique collection of shells, maps, postcards, dolls, stamps, dry flowers…that you would like to display?

MOCA, gives you an opportunity to showcase your unique collection on Collector’s Day

Contact MOCA on or before 10th May to register


Museum Day – 18th May

Open to all, entry free

Activity for Children -18th May

Cholta Cholta – Art and Story – Creating and Crafting Memories – Sketching

Time: 9.30 am – 4.00 pm.

Participation: ages 7 and above

Contact Bookworm or MOCA, to register.

SEQC ‘s Art & Culture Quiz – 22nd May

Time: 5.00 pm

Quizmaster: Aniruddha Sen Gupta

Venue: MOCA

Participation: Open to all, entry free

MOCA contact details:

Ph: 0832 2285299

Mobile: +91 9890031510, +91 9923298699