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St.Paul’s Church Diu India

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The St.Paul’s Church, is situated in Diu Island, on the West Coast of India. It is located within the Diu Fort, which came under the control of the Portuguese colonists in early 16th century. The St. Paul’s Church, named after St. Paul, the Apostle of Jesus also known as the Apostle to the Gentiles is the most prominent, surviving and functioning church, among the three churches built by the Portuguese in Diu. It is considered one of the best examples of baroque architecture in India during the 1601 AD, it was built in the style of a similar basilica church namely, the Bom Jesus Basilica at Goa; its construction was completed in 1610 AD.

The Church, built in the Baroque architectural style, exhibits strong similarity but with better workmanship and design than the Bom Jesus Basilica at Goa built in 1605 AD, which was also built by the Portuguese during their colonial rule of the territory. The interior of the church is decorated with intricately carved wood work that is considered one of the most elaborate in any Portuguese church in India. The altar has the statue of St.Mary. Its interior has elaborate and impressive design with delicate volutes and shell. The front elevation or facade of the church is also said to be the most detailed of all Portuguese churches built in India. The altar, which has the image of St. Mary, is carved out of a single piece of Burmese teak and is lined and lit up with 101 candles. Above the altar, there is a “blue-and–white barrel - vaulted nave adorned with priceless old paintings and statues.

St. Paul’s Church, Diu Fort

The Church is stated to be an innovative design of Jesuit architecture, typical to India. The unique aspect is the facade, which has intricate decoration vis-a-vis its plain walls. Though the frontal elevation of the church is a replica of the Bom Jesus Basilica, but it dispenses with an additional third storey and also the compartments created by the buttresses, as seen in the Bon Jesus. It has extravagant carved decorations in white stucco, mainly attributed to the craftsmanship of the Indian artisans, which is typical of most churches in Goa. It is inferred that the Indian silversmiths known for their exquisite workmanship have influenced the decor in the facade. This has been attributed to a fact that the Jesuits in India could not find native artists who could recreate the original Jesuit architectural designs. Hence, the religious images made in ivory and the objects made in silver have strong local flavour.

Front view of St. Paul’s Church, Diu Fort

St. Paul’s Church, Diu Fort

It is said that music began to be used in churches in India even though it was not an accepted practice among the Jesuits who came to India. In Goa churches, which included churches in Diu, “lavish singing with many voices and sung masses were part of the elaborate ceremonies and processions that the Jesuits staged there. The two ceremonies that are held at the Diu church are the Feast of the Eleven Thousand Virgins to mark the commencement of the school year and the other is on 25 January to mark the conversion of St. Paul, which were largely attended when Portuguese ruled the area and also now. It is the largest and the only functioning church in Diu catering to the small Christian community of about 450 Christians who remain after the Diu territory merged with the Indian Union when it was freed from Portuguese colonial rule on December 11, 1961.

View of the Altar

The church is easily accessible from the main land from the Portuguese village of Ghoghla in the East or from Veraval or Somnath in the West. It is well connected by roads with rest of the country. There are no railway lines within Diu but the nearest railway station is on the metre gauge line at Delvada 80 kilometers (50 mile) from the fort. An airport at Diu provides regular air link to Mumbai. The church is located 256 kilometers (159 mile) North West of Mumbai by road. Diu is approachable from Una, which is 10 kilometers (6.2 mile) from the Gujarat border. The road distances to other places in Gujarat are: 150 kilometers (93 mile) to Sasangir and 220 kilometers (140 mile) to Bhavnagar.

The Altar

The Altar

The church adorned with curiously treated volutes and shell - like motifs and the magnificent wood carving is considered to be the most elaborate of all the Portugese churches in India. St.Paul Church, built in 1691 is consecrated to our Lady of Immaculate Conception. In architectural style it resembles Bom Jesus Church at Goa. The wood - paneling of the church is rated one of the best in church craftsmanship.

The Pulpit

The Pulpit

Mother Mary

Oil Painting inside the Church

Oil Painting inside the Church

St. Paul’s Church, Diu Fort

The old churches of Goa are under UNESCO World heritage list. More at www.thisismyheaven.com

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