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Category Archives: Churches

Our Lady of Immaculate Conception (Panjim Church)

Our Lady of Immaculate Conception (Panjim Church)

Igreja Maria Immaculada Conceicao (Our Lady of Immaculate Conception)

 

Standing tall and elegant in the heart of the capital city of Goa is the famous Church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception of Panaji (Igreja Maria Immaculada Conceicao).  It towers over the whole city of Panjim. The architecture is amazing, and the interiors are also beautiful. With the flight of steps adding to the exquisite charm and the majestic look of the immaculate & white façade, the Panjim Church is rooted in Goa’s historic past and culture for more than four and a half centuries.

Panjim Church - Pawel Da Costa

Though it existed as a chapel before 1541, the whole structure was rebuilt from its foundation in 1619 and the majestic double staircase, rising in angled planes from the main church square was built in 1870.  The main church bell, which weighs about 2,250 kilos, on the central belfry of this church, was originally from the Church of Our Lady of Grace art the Monastery of St Augustine at Old Goa. From there, it was taken to the Light House of Aguada to ring the hours for the benefit of the ships. The bell was brought to the Panjim Church in 1874. This is considered the second largest church bell in Goa, after the Golden Bell in Se Cathedral in Old Goa. The president parochial residence was constructed in 1977.

The decoration of the Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception church is simple, but still it is amazing to the eyes because of its simplicity. The main altar is honored to Mary Immaculate, and it has two more altars, on the left is Jesus crucified and to the right is Our Lady of the Rosary. On the both sides there are two marble statues, one of St. Peter and one of St. Paul. On the right of the main altar in the south transept there is a Chapel of St. Francis Xavier.

In the Church there are many Portuguese inscriptions of 1866, 1871 and 1955, etc. According to one of these inscriptions in Portuguese, in one corner of the Church, Governor Senhor Dom Luis Caetano de Almeida ordered the sails of the Baptismal font in which he was baptized in the year 1708 and they were executed in the year 1742.
To reach the Church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception Panjim, one has to climb 100 steps arranged in a majestic fashion, for the Church sits majestically atop a hillock dominating the heart of the city and offering a bird’s eye view of the main square.
On the 8th of December, the feast of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception is celebrated at the Church in great pomp and religious fervor. The church is artfully lit at night and a lively fair occupies the entire church square. The feast of the Immaculate Conception is one of the major Christian festivals in Goa. The feast celebrates the belief in the conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The feast is preceded by novenas for nine days. The day before the novenas begin is the fama wherein the priest blesses a banner which has the image of Our Lady. And on the feast day masses are held throughout the day with the feast mass sometime in the morning. After the feast mass, a procession is taken out which winds its way through the stalls before returning to the church. And the brass band which accompanies the procession brings back many a memory of the feasts gone by. After the evening mass, fireworks are displayed. Many people witnessed the dazzling fireworks as they have been doing for the last many years. A band plays festive music and enthralls the crowd in the late evening while the ubiquitous chanawalas and flower and wax candle sellers tug on sleeves to buy these items as the faithful entered the Church to seek blessings and favors of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception.
There is a 3 day fete where people from all walks of life come to witness the sheer splendor of the Church. There are stalls selling miniatures, souvenirs, handicrafts, garments, sweets, food and drink. The traditional hajekars who sell haje, kaddio-boddio, laddus, capam and grams, to vendors selling bed sheets, bedspreads and clothes are all to be seen during this feast.

Like how a candle placed in the dark, unites and emits a beautiful kaleidoscope of white, yellow and orange so does the Immaculate Conception Church resembles this against the backdrop of the black sky. As soon as evening sets in, this huge monument is transformed into a glowing specter. Complete with tiny electric bulbs, the entire Church is lit up in the eeriness of the night. During the feast the whole church is beautifully decorated inside and the exterior is very artfully lit. Its illuminated view is a visual feast to the eyes

 

 

 

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St. Sebastian Church Of Aquem – Glimpses of the past

St. Sebastian Church Of Aquem – Glimpses of the past

St. Sebastian Church Of Aquem – Glimpses of the past

Aquem, a land of dreams and scenic beauty, is surrounded by majestic mountains and bathed by several springs. It has been the seat of power of conquerors like the Rajas and the Pandavas who sought after the land for its strategic location to establish their state residence. They built underground palaces and tunnels which were later occupied by Goancars and settlers until the kingdoms got gradually converted into Gaoncarias. In the prehistoric times Aquem was believed to be the capital of an extensive territory, possibly of Goa, which constituted a state dominated by a Raja descendent of the sons of Pandaw or Pandava who had five sons. This event is said to have occurred after the great war of Mahabharata which ended after 18 days and the two families spread all over India and Goa. The extensive territory that had Aquem as its capital consisted of Margao known as Margao (village of Weavers), Nuvem ( the old name being Mati,) Marsgao (village of demons), Margao (the central village), Dramapur (the city of Dormo the first son of Pandaw/Dhormapur known as city of devotion ), Sirlim (Sir Ali – a great war Lord), Telaulim (Tal-vali, a low level village), Dicarpale (Dicaro – a plant and pale – a village), Davorlim (the border of the village of Odli – Orlim) and Navelim. The village of Navelim was later ceded to the Dessai’s of Margao after the split by the last descendant Embicho Naique. Hence there was no mention of communidade of Navelim, although we have communidade of Aquem and communidade of Margao.

The birth of the chapel of St. Sebastian is based on sources such as oral and written transmission from generations of families, newspapers such as “A India Portuguesa”, “A Vida” Govt. gazettes, historical archives and vestiges of monuments such as grottoes and tunnels. St. Sebastian was the saint that the people turned to when burdened with epidemics of pests and plagues, which occurred frequently in Goa at the time, especially in Salcette areas. Through his intercession and miraculous interventions, the recurrence of these pests and plagues were eliminated altogether. The chapel of St. Sebastian came into existence in its primitive stages in the year 1592 after missionaries converted it from a private hindu temple. This temple was known as “Pandavachem deul” owned by Tipu Suntu Naique Sar Dessai, a decendant of the Pandavas, who had converted to Christianity on the 29th of February 1560 along with a thousand other locals from Aquem. He took the name of Sebastiao Coelho and hence the date of the feast of the Patron Saint was fixed on this day. The Chapel was handed over to and maintained by the Comunidade of Aquem from 1562 onwards and later by the collection of funds from the local faithful. Although the feast Mass of the Patron saint may have been celebrated on 29th February every year from 1560 onwards, the Sunday Masses were more regularly celebrated from around 1900 onwards.

In 1925 Fr. Arduino Dias from Velsao was believed to have been the non-resident chaplain of the chapel. He was followed by Fr. Joao de Piedade Viegas from Carmona, who served as the resident Chaplain. It was during his tenure that the side altar dedicated to our lady of Rosary and St. Joseph came into being and it was inaugurated on the 12th of January, 1938. There may have been non resident chaplains of this chapel before 1925 but no clear records to this effect are available. Thereafter from 1940 to 1954 Fr. Elias Dias was the next resident chaplain who was followed by the other resident chaplains. The “Pandavachem deul” was 50 meters away from the grotto at the back of the Chapel which is the entrance leading to the underground caves and tunnels. These caves and tunnels were built by the Pandavas for defense from enemies like Shivaji and his warriors. Before the roads were tarred in 1956, a sort of spiral flow of water covering a diameter of 4 to 6 meters was clearly observed about twenty meters east of the chapel, signifying the presence of underground tunnels quite possibly extending upto Rachol and Chandor. According to the Historical Archives, the actual altar of St. Sebastian was 50 meters away from the grotto at the side of the “deul” in the capela mor of the present Chapel.

The chapel was enlarged in 1916. A big granite cross was erected on the top of the Chapel tower on the occasion of the conversion of the deul into the chapel. This cross was later hit by lightning and destroyed in 1958. The adjoining residence for the priest was built around 1938, and the school of Sta Terezinha for music and elementary studies came into existence around 1952. The “Confre de Capela” de Sto Sebastiao was installed in the year 1957. It is pertinent to note that the St. Sebastian Chapel of Aquem Alto was the oldest sanctuary, not only in Aquem but also in the old Salcette Parish from 1562 onwards with the exception of the fort of Rachol. Gradually areas of Borda, Gogol, Mestabhat, Margao city, Police Station up to river Sal were cut off from the Parish of Aquem and what remained were the areas of Aquem Alto and Aquem Baixo. From 1939 to 1940, as per the Govt. Gazette, the railway line was used as a dividing line between Margao and Navelim and with this division, the Aquem Parish suffered further dismemberment, since Aquem Baixo and a part of Fradilem became a part of Navelim. Later, a part of Aquem Alto, Tansazori and Malbhat was given to Margao. This Chapel was under the domain of the Navelim Church, which was actually founded in 1597 and dedicated to St. John the Baptist. It was later burnt down and another Church was built dedicated to Our Lady of Rosary at the present site in Navelim. This was burnt down again and finally the present Church of Navelim was constructed in 1604. Hence, the presently erected St. Sebastian Church at Aquem Alto has a rich, glorious past. It began as a chapel consecrated to the Patron st Sebastian in the year 1562. It has existed for more than half a millennium and continues to exist in all its glory.

 

Mass – Timings
Weekly : 6.45 a.m. (on Wednesdays at 5:30 pm)
Every Wednesday : 5:30 PM
Every Friday : 6:00 pm. followed by Adoration (6:30 p.m.– 7:30 p.m.)
Saturday : 6.45 a.m. ,5.30 p.m. (Sunday Mass)
Sunday : 6.15 a.m. ,7.30 a.m. ,8.45a.m.(Children’s Mass)
Holy Communion for the sick & old : Every First Friday Morning

Office Timings
Monday to Friday : 9.00a.m. to 01.00 p.m and 3.30p.m. to 5.30p.m.
Saturday : 9.00a.m. to 01.00p.m.

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Reis Magos Church

Reis Magos Church
Reis Magos Church

 

The white church façade besides the fort is also prominent. The church is especially important from the point of view that this part of the Village and the fort has got its name “Reis Magos” from it which symbolizes the Magi Kings, i.e the Three Wise Men who went to Bethlehem after the shining star to bestow their gifts towards the Infant Jesus.

The 1st church was built in 1555 here when the Franciscans who were the Missionaries set about converting the people of Bardez with great surge and enthusiasm. A school and a seminary formed a part of the church later. Named after St. Jerome, it competed with the efforts of the Jesuits at Old Goa and Rachol as it was an important center of learning after St. Paul’s at Old Goa. Some viceroys stayed here while some of them were at the Adil Shah palace across the river, the purpose of staying here was served when they had to sail upstream towards the other side to assume office or when they had to depart for Portugal. Three of them could not fulfill their mission, as they died and were buried here itself. The learning center no longer exists, but the church remains as a Goldenlandmark with its façade distinctive from the position of the church atop a flurry of steps with the full width of the church running across the riverbank. The breadth of the church is enhanced by five doorways while slender Corinthian columns which divide the compartments provide the grace to its simplicity with its already strengthened impression through the high scroll decorated gable and an insignia of its crown adds to the royalty and dignity of this wonderful church of Goa.

Since the church having being built on the site of a Hindu temple as per common practice of the Portuguese, it has obvious strategic and historical references with evidences leading to the lower end of the stone balustrades on each side of the church steps wherein figures of lions are engraved which signify the presence of Hindu temple ruins as these decorations were normally used for Hindu temples in South India and in Vijayanagar architecture in the 14th and 15th centuries.

A small shrine near the foot of the steps of the church dedicated to Our Lady of Health is erected on the site where Albuquerque had captured a Muslim outpost in 1510. Within the church restored in 1771, a dominant feature is a polychromed wooden panel of three gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh offered to Infant Jesus seated on a kneeling Mother Mary. This wooden panel is placed on a reredos above the large central space containing the tabernackles surrounded by the four evangelists, which makes it all the more interesting and worthwhile watching it.

In the church corridor, an impressive carved slab on the right of the altar along the church side marks the burial place of one of the greatest Portuguese Viceroy, Dom Luis de Ataide. The Portuguese were to be evicted in 1570 when three Muslim states plotted together against the young Portuguese King and besieged Goa on all sides with a formidable army of 1,00,000 troops and 2000 elephants. The Portuguese army strength being only 7000 proved to be of no match against them and the glory of golden Goa was short-lived. The Portuguese Viceroy Dom Luis de Ataide held out administration for another term but not for long as he died soon after assuming office in March in 1581 mostly due to heartbreak over the news of the death of the king at the hands of the Moors in the battle of El Ksar el Kebir in North Africa. The walled cemetery and the prison gates near to it is located above the church of Reis Magos. The feast of the church of Reis Magos is held on 6th January each year celebrating the offering of the gifts by the Magi to Infant Jesus, this place being one of the other three places in Goa where this takes place.

The other three places where the festival of Reis Magos is celebrated are Chandor, Margao Monte and Cansaulim in Mormugao taluka. This festival is highlighted by the presence of a colorful procession and attendant ceremonies. The road from Reis Magos leading from Verem follows the river bank and turns inland encircling the Nerul river crossing wide paddy fields leading to the landmark of the church of Candolim, Our Lady of Hope. The towers for the church were added 100 years later after the construction of the church thereby making them a distinguished feature by the builders of the church.

The village beyond this church, is being rebuilt and the interesting places such as the birth place of Abade Faria and Pluto House which was testimony to the conspiracy of 1787 are disappearing towards the south. The headland of Aguada has risen forthwith thereby also spreading the Fort Aguada complex.

 

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Pilar

Pilar

Pilar – Goa

Pilar is a Spanish name for a Goan village.Every year on October 12, the feast of our Lady of Pilar is celebrated in the Pilar Monastery, Goa. On the eve of the feast, there is a devout procession of the statue of Our Lady of Pilar, presently from Fr Agnel Apostolic School, Batim to the Pilar Seminary. Pilar, a silent hillock on the banks of the oldest port near Goa Velha, gets its name from the Patroness of the Monastery Our Lady of Pilar. Pilar in Spanish means pillar.

Fr Cosme Costa, professor of Church History at Pilar Theological College, stated that, the procession of Our Lady of Pilar, started by Fr Conceicao Rodrigues, a Pilar priest in 1948, was part of the spiritual journeying by the people of neighbouring parishes. From all neighbouring parishes, people carrying the statue of Our Lady of Pilar were walking to Pilar with a spirit of prayer and penance.

The present statue that is carried for the procession was brought from Spain in 1961. Before that, even the main statue was taken down and carried in procession, recalls Fr Alexio Gracias, a diocesan judge for marriage in the Archdiocese of Goa and Daman, who had completed his novitiate in Pilar in 1951.

 

Pilar Monastery was built by the Reformed Franciscan Recollects (Capuchos) of the Custody of the Mother of God in 1613. In 1633, a University of Science, Arts and Theology, based on European system was established in the precincts of the Pilar Monastery. The Pilar Monastery will complete 400 years in July 2013.

The patroness of the monastery is Our Lady of Pilar

Pilar

 

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