The St. Paul’s Church, Diu, is situated in Diu Island, on the west coast of India, a Union Territory of India. It is located in the town of Diu, which came under the control of the Portuguese colonists in early 16th century. The St. Paul’s Church, named after St. Paul, the Apostle of Jesus also known as the Apostle to the Gentiles, is most renowned, surviving and functioning church, among the three churches built by the Portuguese in Diu. It is considered one of the best examples of baroque architecture (artistic style) in India.
It is located in Diu on the west coast of India, at the mouth of the Gulf of Cambay. Its construction is dated to 1601 AD. Built in the style of a similar basilica church namely, the Bom Jesus Basilica at Goa, its construction was completed in 1610 AD and dedicated to Our Lady of Immaculate Conception.
The Church, built in the Baroque architectural style, exhibits strong similarity but with better workmanship and design than the Bom Jesus Basilica at Goa built in 1605 AD, which was also built by the Portuguese during their colonial rule of the territory. The interior of the church is decorated with intricately carved wood work that is considered one of the most elaborate in any Portuguese church in India. The altar has the statue of St. Mary. Its interior has elaborate and impressive design with delicate volutes (spiral scroll-like ornament) and shell. The front elevation or facade of the church is also said to be the most detailed of all Portuguese churches built in India. The altar, which has the image of St. Mary, is carved out of a single piece of Burmese teak and is lined and lit up with 101 candles. Above the altar, there is a “blue-and–white barrel - vaulted nave adorned with pricelss old paintings and statues.
The Church is stated to be an innovative design of Jesuit architecture, typical to India. The unique aspect is the facade, which has intricate decoration vis-a-vis its plain walls. Though the frontal elevation of the church is a replica of the Bom Jesus Basilica, but it dispenses with an additional third storey and also the compartments created by the buttresses, as seen in the Bon Jesus. The church has extravagant carved decorations in white stucco, mainly attributed to the craftsmanship of the Indian artisans, which is typical of most churches in Goa. It is inferred that the Indian silversmiths known for their exquisite workmanship have influenced the decor in the facade. This has been attributed to a fact that the Jesuits in India could not find native artists who could recreate the original Jesuit architectural designs. Hence, the religious images made in ivory and the objects made in silver have strong local flavour.
It is the largest and the only functioning church in Diu catering to the small Christian community of about 450 Christians who remain after the Diu territory merged with the Indian Union when it was freed from Portuguese colonial rule on December 11, 1961.
The church is easily accessible from the main land from the Portuguese village of Ghoghla in the east or from Veraval or Somnath in the west. It is well connected by roads with rest of the country. There are no railway lines within Diu but the nearest railway station is on the metre gauge line at Delvada 80 kilometres (50 mt) from the fort. An airport at Diu provides regular air link to Mumbai. The church is located 256 kilometres (159 mt) north west of Mumbai by road. Diu is approachable from Una, which is 10 kilometres (6.2 mt) from the Gujarat border.