The “Bell of the Inquisition” called Goan’s to “acts of faith” when
Jews and “New Christians” were bunt in Old Goa. The same bell call
the parishioners for mass in the Panjim Church.
The present day Goan’s are free from guilt of the crimes committed during the Inquisition of Goa in the years 1560 A.D to 1812 A.D. But
few people are aware that the same bell that called the parishioners to
the “act of faith” in Old Goa, are still in use. Today, the “bell of the
Inquisition” calls for mass in the Church of Our Lady of Immaculate
Conception in Panaji.
The “Bell of the Inquisition” was rst shifted from the ruins of St.
Augustine complex, former Church of Our Lady of Grace in Old Goa,
to the Lighthouse at Aguada. The vault of the St. Augustine complex
collapsed in 1842 A.D, and gradually left as a ruin.
Between 1841 A.D and 1871 A.D the lighthouse housed the 2.225
kilo bell. Finally the bell was removed from Aguada, and placed on top
of the Church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception in Panaji.
The sound of the large “Bell of the Inquisition”, heralded the
beginning of the “Auto da Fe”, or ‘the act of faith”.
A Frenchman, Charles Dellon, wrote an eyewitness account on the
crimes committed by the religious tribunal in Old Goa. Dellon believed
in Jesus the Messiah, but was arrested, imprisoned, and put for trial. He
recalls an act of faith in August 1676 A.D. Dellon heard the bell ringing,
from the cathedral of the Dominican order, who were the persecutors,
or the inquisitors, during the Inquisition in Goa.
“The great bell of the Cathedral tolled a little before sun rise, as a
signal to the multitude to assemble for the august solemnnity of the
“Auto da Fe”, which is the triumph of the Holy Of ce, and we were
Chapter -VIII, 51 than commanded to go forth one by one”.
In his book “Memoirs of Goa”, Alfredo DeMello also recall the
ringing of the bell in Old Goa.
“Standing up all night, at last at 5.30 a.m. the sun rose, and the bell
of the cathedral started tolling. This was the signal for the population
of Goa to wake up, and come to witness the august ceremony of the
“auto da fe”.
In his book “The Goa Inquisition”, A.K Priolkar gives us an account
of Dr.Buchanans visit to Goa in 1808 A.D. Also Buchanan recalls the
ringing of this bell.
“While we were conversing on the subject (the Inquisition sic), the
great bell began to toll, the same which Dellon observes always tolls,
before day light, on the morning of the “auto da fe”.
An unknown number of Jews, New Christians and others convicted
as heretics, were burnt at stake in Old Goa. Dellon explains not only the
living was executed during these acts of faith.
“It is necessary to mention that the jurisdiction of the Inquisition
is not limited to the living, or to those who have died in prison, but
processes are often instituted against person who have been dead many
years before their accusations. When any important charge is preferred
against a person deceased, his body is taken out of the tomb, and, in
convictions, consumed at the Act of Faith” His estates are seized, and
those who have taken possession compelled to refund. I state nothing
but what I have witness”…..His bones were (or perhaps those of some
other person who had been buried in the same place) burnt.
We know that Garcia da Orta was one of the victims. His grave was
reopened, and his remains put for trial. The bell rang, and his bones
were burned, convicted for the heresy of Judaism, the faith and religion
of the Jewish people.
Who came to Old Goa to participate in these acts?
«The hall was flled by the Inhabitants of Goa, whose names were
entered in a list”. 52
«We were lead through the principal streets, and every where regarded
by an immense crowd which came from all parts of India, and lined
all the roads by which we passed. Notice having been given from the
pulpit in the most distant parishes long before the Act of Faith was to
Neither the Vatican, nor the state of Portugal, or the Government of Goa
have issued an apology for the crimes committed when the bell of the inquisition
rang. There seems to be a need for repentance. To both offcially
express regret for the atrocities of the past, and put the religious items of
the Inquisition from places of worship and into a museum or memorial.