AUTO DA FE

In 2002 Pope John Paul II apologized to Jews, Galileo, women and Muslims killed by the Crusaders and to people convicted by the Inquisition. The Inquisition was one of the most heinous crimes committed by the Catholic Church. In Goa, the Inquisition was set up by the Portuguese in 1560 in order to ensure that the new converts to the Christian faith followed the new religion ‘correctly’. Anyone who ‘faulted’ was imprisoned, tortured and tried by the Court of Inquisition. The Court of Inquisition, locally known ‘Vhodlem Ghar’ (Big House), was situated opposite the Se Cathedral in Old Goa. The ‘heretics’ were burnt alive at the stakes in public view after elaborate rituals and a ceremonial procession. They were made to wear a special death robe, the ‘Samara’, on which was painted their portrait and an image of Satan. Those who ‘repented’ and wanted to die as ‘good Christians’ were given a robe with a red Dominican Cross. They had the luxury of death by strangulation before their bodies were burnt. This process was the Auto-da-fe (Act of Faith). The table that was used by the Inquisition judge is preserved in the Government Museum in Goa. The table legs have grotesque carvings of Satan like faces. My work is a large and detailed replica of the leg of the Inquisition table surrounded by figurines in the ceremonial robes of the Auto-da-fe.