Old Goa hosts music festival honoring 16th century saint

Festival promotes 'tolerance and acceptance of the other,' says organizer
Old Goa hosts music festival honoring 16th century saint

The World Sacred Music Festival is in progress in the ruins of St. Augustine convent, Old Goa. (Photo by Bosco de Souza Eremita)

An art and music festival honoring a 16th-century Orthodox martyr whose remains were buried in a Catholic convent in India kicked off Feb. 12 at the Santa Monica Church in Old Goa.*

Around 40 international performers are part of the 10-day festival, which will include conferences, lectures, and workshops.

The festival "hopes to inspire a place of artistic, spiritual and musical dialogue," said Santiago Lusardi Girelli, artistic director of the festival.

The festival is dedicated to the life and martyrdom of St. Ketevan (1560–1624) whose remains were unearthed in Old Goa in 2003.

"Ketevan's fascinating life, her faith, commitment and tolerance inspires our festival," Girelli told ucanews.com.

Ketevan was the queen of Kakheti kingdom in eastern Georgia, which was conquered by Persian ruler Shab Abbas. In an effort to save her people, the queen surrendered herself and was imprisoned by the Persians. She refused Abbas' orders to convert to Islam and was subsequently tortured and killed.

After her burial, Augustinian friars exhumed her remains in 1627 and a fragment of one of her hands was brought to Old Goa, the then capital of Portuguese India. Her remains were buried in a black sarcophagus in the Augustinian Convent of Our Lady of Grace in Old Goa.

The festival's partners include the Goa Church, the state government, the Archaeological Survey of India, Goa University, the University of Seville, Spain and the Old Goa Music Society and the Museum of Christian Art.

*This paragraph has been corrected. The earlier version reported that the festival began Feb. 13.  

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