At a distance of 36 km from Panaji Kadamba Bus Stand, 33 km from Vasco Da Gama Railway Station and 8.3 km from Margao Railway Station, Our Lady of Snows Church is situated in South Goa.
The Church of Our Lady of Snows also known as Igreja da Nossa Senhora de Neves is located in the village of Rachol on the banks of the Zuari River. The Church is dedicated to Our Lady of Snows.
The Our Lady of Snows Church, Rachol, Goa is called ‘Nossa Senhora do Neves Igreja em Rachol, Goa’ in Portuguese. Our Lady of Snows Church, Rachol, Goa is also popularly called ‘The Rachol Church’ locally in Goa. The fort of Rachol was gifted to the Portuguese, in 1520, by King Krishnadeva of Vijayanagar, in gratitude for the former’s alliance with him against Adil Shah of Bijapur. By 1521, a chapel dedicated to St. John the Baptist was built in the fort of Rachol, with a garrison Chaplain, who was probably a Dominican. The first Our Lady of Snows church Rachol, came up in 1556, built in mud, with a thatched roof. It was the first church in Salcete. It can thus be called the mother church (Matriz) of the whole of South Goa. The Jesuits built another church, in stone in the year 1576. Although Rachol was at the time, part of the village of Raia, the parish was always known as Rachol, perhaps because the first nucleus of converts was concentrated in the Rachol fort area, where the church is situated. The present church building was constructed in 1596. A statue of Christ (Senhor Morto) is venerated in this church with special devotion . In the parish of Rachol, there exists another large church , dedicated to St. Ignatius of Loyola, in the old Jesuit college, now the diocesan Patriarchal Seminary. At the time of its construction in 1610, it was dedicated to All Saints, however after the canonization of Ignatius in 1622, the Jesuits rededicated the church to their founder. The present church was built soon after 1622.
The Church of Our Lady of Snows at Rachol is said to be the first church of Salcete and is called the Matriz (Mother Church) of South Goa. The Church was built in Neo-Roman Style of Architecture. It has a single large low nave with tile roof and barrel-vaulted chancel. The Church facade has three sections and two orders. The church contains a single bell tower on the north side pertaining to a probably later third order. The tower protects a gallery that connects the parish buildings. On the south side a lateral section protects another gallery.
There have been two historical burials in the church at the altar. One was captain of the Fort, Diogo Rodrigues in 1577 and the other was the martyrs of Cuncolim in 1583.The martyrs’ bodies remained in the church until 1597, after which Jesuit priests were moved to Saint Paul’s College and laid to rest in Old Goa at the Cathedral in 1862.
The Rachol Church feast day is celebrated on the 1st Sunday of August. However the main feast day of the Rachol Church is celebrated on Jan 1st as this day is dedicated to Bom Jesus. The fair remains for a day only.