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Santa Monica Convent: Largest Nunnery in Asia
The Santa Monica Convent and nunnery, also known as the Royal Monastery of Santa Monica, built in 1606 AD (1606-1627) at the Holy Hill of Old Goa is Asia's first and largest nunnery. It is Goa's only convent for nuns. It used to house around 150 cloistered nuns who were called the daughters of St. Monica.
CHURCHES: St. Monica
St. Monica Church is situated in the Holy Hill or the Monte Santo of Old Goa, opposite to the ruins of St. Augustine Church. It houses a huge Nunnery. It is Goa's only convent for nuns. It was given the status of a Church only in 1968, although built in 1606, because all these years it has been considered as a convent of nuns.
Church of St. Monica & Museum of Christian Art
The Convent and Church of St. Monica is a 3-storey building that was completed in 1627 and took about 20 years to build. The rules of the monastery compiled by the Archbishop, were modeled on those of St. Augustine, and was approved by Pope Paul VSubsequently, it burnt down 9 years later. It was regarded as the Royal Monastary because of its royal patronage and was also the first nunnery of the east. The disintegration of religious orders in Goa caused the monastary to go into disrepair but it didn't shut down until 1885 when the last sister died. It was used as a barracks during the1950's and '60's and then reinstated as a church in 1968. The gardens provided not only food for the nuns but also fragrant flowers for religious ceremonies.
The church wasn't open when I visited but if you are reasonably dressed you may enter. It now houses the Theological Center of the Matar Dei institute. This is a center of higher education for nuns and draws a varied international group.
The Museum of Christian Art is just adjacent and contains a collection of icons and artifacts used in rituals in religious ceremonies. Most of the sculptures and paintings were actually done by local Hindu artists. Admission is Rs10 and is open from 9:30am-5pm daily.
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