Truth 9: The Gracias commission of 1959

The outgoing fascist junta i Goa wanted the goans to focus on pilgrim tourism, related to Francis Xavier. Pre-Portuguese area monuments to be neglected.

The Fascist Portuguse junta left the Roman Catholics in charge of the development of tourism in Goa.

The most comprehensive and consequential initiative to date is the plan of 1959, drawn up by a group of Goan and Portuguese personalities led by Ismael Gracias and put fourth by the last colonial governor, Vassalo e Silva.gracias

New and Old ideas for Old Goa: the Gracias / Vassalo e Silva conservation
and musealization plan of 1959 and its aftermath.

Sidh Mendiratta, December, 2011

The “Gracias” Committee’s plan for Old Goa was imbued with a nationalist spirit common to the celebrations and official discourses of the Estado Novo. Due to a general lack of resources, there were no grandiose rebuilding schemes or even an overall and coherent plan for the development of Old Goa. One can read the “Gracias” plan as an attempt to better showcase the most important churches of Old Goa within a logic of catholic celebration and growing tourism, improving the basic infrastructure and conditions of the area in order to create a kind of
pilgrimage/museum centre ‐ allusions to Fatima were present in the report ‐with a special focus on the public exhibitions of S. Francis Xavier’s relics.

Since 1961, the Archaeological Survey of India has had a big responsibility
regarding the conservation of buildings and sites in Old Goa and has taken over the Permanent Committee’s role as sole sponsor and organizer of archaeological excavations. The first impression one has from the early period of ASI’s policies regarding Old Goa is a strong sense of continuity with the course determined by the “Gracias” Committee. Indeed, whatever works were being carried out in December 1961 were concluded, the most important being the “Pius X” institute. A definite care was given to lawns and gardens around the main churches, keeping in pace not only with the “Gracias” plan but also with older colonial traditions.


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