South Asia

Organized Panel Session

1 - Toscano’s Vision: Subaltern Religiosity in the Records of the Goan Inquisition

Friday, July 6
2:40 PM - 4:10 PM
Location: Jacaranda I, First Floor

In 1597, after a series of grueling interrogations, it was reported to the Goan Inquisition that the accused, Gonçalo Toscano, had confessed privately to accompanying an expedition to burn down the church of the Madre de Deus in Palle. There, Toscano, accused of apostasy to Islam, saw the Virgin, with her infant son in her arms, and a red rose in her hand appeared beneath a tree with an entire squadron behind her. Seeing this, the group of frightened Moors dispersed and Toscano remained an ardent devotee of Mary throughout his life.


The Goan Inquisition, established in 1560, continued until the Pombaline declaration abolishing the institution was conveyed to the Governor General of the Estado da Índia in 1774. The prisoners were released and the archives sent to Lisbon. When the Inquisition was reinstated in 1778, after Pombal’s resignation, the archives were shipped back to Goa. In 1812, the Inquisition was finally abolished and, upon consultation with a former Inquisitorial official, who selected some documents deemed worthy of preservation, the archives were burnt, including the trial records listed in the inventory of 1774.  Stray documents from this archive are preserved in other collections of the Portuguese world, primarily the Torre do Tombo. While the fragmentary nature of this archive makes it difficult to write a comprehensive history of the institution, as Toscano’s extraordinary trial demonstrates, these records can shed unique light on subaltern religious experience in early modern western India.

Ananya Chakravarti

Georgetown University, United States

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1 - Toscano’s Vision: Subaltern Religiosity in the Records of the Goan Inquisition



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