Let's make one thing absolutely clear: The cross shown on the left is NOT the fabled golden Goa Cross. It is simply a photo of my Pectoral Cross, which I bought from McKay's (www.mckaychurchgoods.com/clergycrosses.htm).
Goa is a small state on India's west coast. Run by Portugal for about 450 years until annexed by India in 1961, Goa is by far the wealthiest place in India, boasting a GDP per capita two and a half times that of the rest of the country.
Travel brochures will tell you many more interesting facts about Goa. Facts about the supposed Fiery Cross of Goa, however, are pretty thin on the ground.
The story goes something like this:
An 18th century pirate called Olivier le Vasseur (also known as La Buse 'the buzzard') operated in the Indian Ocean.
In April 1721 near Réunion Island, just east of Madagascar, he raided a Portuguese ship called Virgen del Cabo (Virgin of the Cape) on its way from Goa to Lisbon. The loot consisted of treasures belonging to the Bishop of Goa and the Viceroy of Portugal, including gold and silver bars, chests of gold coins, diamonds, pearls and silks. There were also religious icons from the huge Sé Cathedral which included a solid gold cross, so bright that it was called the Fiery Cross of Goa.
This cross was seven feet tall, encrusted with diamonds, rubies and emeralds. It was so heavy that three men were needed to carry it.
The haul was divided amongst the pirate crew but Levasseur kept the golden cross. He had a house in the Northwest Seychelles (at Bel Ombre) and there he buried the cross before he was captured by the French a few years later, tried and sentenced to death.
Just before sunset at 5 p.m. on 7 July 1730 at Saint-Denis on the north cost of Réunion, Levasseur was hanged. As he stood before the noose, he tossed a scrap of paper into the crowd, shouting "Find my treasure, ye who may understand it!" (but in Portuguese, of course).
The paper contained a cryptogram in 17 lines of Greek and Hebrew letters, clues to the location of the buried spoils.
And there the story ends until two hundred years later, when in 1947, an Englishman named Reginald Cruise-Wilkins, picked up the trail and began deciphering the code. Employing the ancient esoteric knowledge privy to Freemaons, the Zodiac, the Clavicula Salomonis (Key of Solomon), and bits of an old Greek poem around the Labours of Hercules (slaying lions, the nine-headed Hydra, and several other little jobs that earned him immortality), he cracked most of the code.
He died in 1977 and his son John is currently trying to fathom out the few remaining riddles. We wish him well in his endeavours. We also wonder if he will return his finds to Sé Cathedral.