This colourful and deluxe bilingual publication in Portuguese and in English is brought out by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation of Lisbon. The book introduces a project that was financed by this Foundation and was completed with the backing of INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage), Goa Archdiocese, andthe Xavier Centre of Historical Research (Goa). The original idea of the project came from Mario Miranda, a Goan artist of national and international repute, and representative of Goa chapter of INTACH. The first ever survey of the artistic heritage of Goa Archdiocese was conducted by Teotonio R. de Souza, the Founder-Director of the Xavier Centre of Historical Research. The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation of Lisbon provided the technical expertise under the guidance of Maria Helena Mendes Pinto and funds to complete the project. The project was inaugurated in January 1994 by the President of India, Shanker Dayal Sharma in the premises of Rachol Seminary, a 16th century building that served as headquarters of the Society of Jesus who were greatly responsible for the Christianization of Salcete province of Goa and the production of its religious art. The building has continued to serve as Major Seminary of the Goa Archdiocese and has trained over the past centuries hundreds and thousands of clergy that has served Goa and the rest of India and beyond. Hence, it was an ideal place for locating this museum. Unfortunately, the difficulties of access and transport made it necessary to transfer the museum to the premises of Santa Mónica (presently named Mater Dei Institute) convent in Old Goa. The transfer was done with great care and the museum is now easily accessible to thousands of tourists who visit Old Goa on a regular basis throughout the year. The end papers of the book depict the original displayof the museum in the Camarata hall of Rachol Seminary.
In addition to introductory essays by some of those who participated actively in the project of the museum, greater part of the book includes an illustrated catalogue of the pieces displayed. This catalogue is preceded by a note which states: The publication of this work is intended as a memory of the Rachol Museum of Christian art which was housed, from 1992 to 2002, in the Seminary of the same name. The presentation of the pieces in this volume does not correspond exactly to the recommended circuit for visitors to the museum. That, then, is left to the imagination. Certain alterations have been made in the sequence of certain pieces which seem to be more appropriate to this memory, without forgetting the original exhibition circuit, which, despite having been conditioned by space available, gave the collection aesthetic balance. As has already been mentioned, there was also the necessity to include in the present publication the generous donations and loans that have been added to the original collection. To enable a better appreciation of the collection it was decided wherever possible and aesthetically advisable to mention the actual size of the pieces in the photographic reproductionss although height, width and diameter area always included on the label. The book ends with two pages of reference books that are relevant for a better appreciation of this project.