Table of Contents
Fr. José Custódio de Faria, also known as Abbe Faria, was a Goan Catholic monk who was one of the pioneers of the scientific study of hypnotism. He is dramatized as the character of the 'mad' monk imprisoned at the Chateau d'If in the famous novel, The Count of monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, pere.
Fr. Caetano Vitorino de Faria - the mastermind
Fr. Caetano Francisco do Couto
Fr. José António Gonçalves of Divar
Judge José da Rocha Dantas e Mendonça, Judge of the Goa High Court and of the inquest into the conspiracy.
The conspiracy was inspired by the ideas of the incipient French Revolution, or, more precisely, by the propaganda of the political agitators that shortly after brought about the French Revolution.
José António and Caetano visited Rome and Portugal to plead for their being appointed as Bishops, but were refused. As a result of this refusal, they hatched the conspiracy along with Abbé Faria. They also managed to obtain the sympathy of similarly disaffected Christians in the Army and local clergy.
The conspirators also negotiated with Tipu sultan, the usurper of mysore, so that, when they had thrown Goa into disorder, he would invade and give the finishing touch.
The conspiracy was given up by one of the conspirators to the authorities thereby preventing liberation from Portuguese colonial rule.
The root of the dissent was that missionaries from Portugal (the Dominicans, Franciscans and Jesuits) were dominating the churches and Government services in Goa towards the end of the 18th century.
The local Christians (who were primarily converted) were being ignored for any prestigious or responsible positions. But it seems it was these Goan priests being bypassed in favour of the South Indian St. Thomas clerics (particularly Bishop Kariattil) for the appointment to the vacant sees of Cranganore and Mylapore that was last straw on the camel's back.
P. Kamat mentions that the protests of the various priests she studied for their non-submission to the Portuguese authority in Goa were by and large manifestations of their immediate personal grievances arising out of racial discrimination and administrative abuses.
The dissent was also fomented by the bad treatment of Goans by the Portuguese, especially after the loss of Portuguese territories of Daman and Bassein to the marathas in 1739. This treatment had led to the refusal of Goans to join Portuguese military expeditions in East Africa, leading to the Portuguese Viceroy in Goa to issue an ordinance in 1760 banning the use of the expressions negro or cachorro (dog) to refer to the natives.
The conspiracy being made known to the authorities, they took vigorous steps to pre-empt it. Some of the conspirators fled in disguise to British territory. However, the authorities arrested and punished 47 persons, including 17 priests and seven army officers.
The area around the present day GPO (General Post Office) in Panjim is called São Tomé. The present GPO building used to be the old tobacco house, and the building to its right was the Government Mint. The area right in front of these buildings was the old Panjim pillory and used to be the site of public executions. It was here that fifteen conspirators of the failed revolt were executed.
Fr. Gonçalves fled to British territory and lived the remainder of his life as an obscure English teacher in Calcutta. Abbé Faria teamed up with the French Revolutionaries and participated along with the "juring" clerics in the Revolutionaries' brutal persecution of the Catholic Church in France and elsewhere.
For decades after, the Conspiracy was used as a stick to defame and denigrate Goan missionaries and priests in British India by their opponents, the Vicars Apostolic of the Propaganda party, Goans being of the padroado party. The incident was used to represent the Goans to the British government and to the Christians in British India as untrustworthy, rebellious and willing to compromise with their own enemies (Tipu Sultan). This became Goa's Black Legend.