The large and beautiful Church of St Cajetan, lies about half a kilometre away to the north east of the Se Cathedral, and quite near the ruins of the Viceregal Palace. This church, which is said to have been modelled on the original design of the Basilica of St Peter in Rome, is architecturally Corinthian both externally and internally while the gilded altars with rich carvings are in rich Baroque style.
The Church of St Cajetan as it is popularly known, originally called The Church of Our Lady of Divine Providence, and the Convent of St Cajetan were built by Italian friars of the Order of Theatines, known in Portuguese as Clérigos Regulares da Divina Providência. Although the church altar is dedicated to Our Lady of Divine Providence, the church is named after the founder of the Theatine order, St Cajetan, a contemporary of St Francis Xavier.
In 1639, three Italians of the Order of Theatines were sent by Pope Urban VIII to the kingdom of Golconda (near Hyderabad) to preach Christianity. They were D. Pedro Avitabili, D. Francisco Marci and D. Antonio Maria Ardizone. The friars were not permitted to work in Golconda, so they came to Goa on 25th October 1640. In their new abode, they began the construction of a hospital but the local Viceroy stopped their activities in 1643 and asked them to leave Goa in 1645.
However, D. Pedro Avitabili, their courageous leader went all the way to Portugal to explain to the King Dom João IV that it would be in the interest of Christian religion if they were allowed to work in Goa together with the Portuguese priests. Impressed by the determination of the Italian friar, the King gave permission to build the hospital in 1650.
In 1655, the Theatines managed to obtain permission to build the Church and also a Convent. The construction of the Church was completed in 1661. Although built around the same time, the Convent was much smaller in size and was enlarged only later.
The grand façade of the Church has two towers on either side to serve as belfry. The main body of the church forms a Greek cross on plan internally and oblong externally, with a nave ending in an apse and aisles marked by four massive piers faced by Corinthian pilasters.
There are six altars besides the main one dedicated to Our Lady of Divine Providence. Profusely carved and gilded in Baroque style, these altars have twisted shafts dominated by figures of angels. The altars also have Italian school paintings on canvas, some depicting scenes from the life of St Cajetan. As one enters the Church, there are three altars on the left side dedicated to the Holy Family, Our Lady of Piety and St Clare, while to the right are those of St John, St Cajetan and St Agnes. The largest of the altars on the right hand side of the church is dedicated to St Cajetan himself.
The building which housed the Theatine Monastery near the Church is currently the setting for Diocesan Pastoral Centre.
In the grounds of the Church are the remains of the doorway that once was the entrance to an Islamic palace belonging to Adil Shah, the ruler of Goa before the Portuguese took control.