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The Man Behind The Saligao Church

by Fr. Nascimento Mascarenhas

If one were called upon to single out a specific individual as the greatest benefactor of the village of Saligao in Goa, that individual would undoubtedly be Francisco Salvador Zeferino Pinto, fondly known as Salu Pinto.

Salu Pinto was born in the year 1827 at Cotula in Saligao. He was the son of Caetano Antonio Pinto and Anna Felis Perpetua da Gama Pinto, both from Cotula. As he grew up, Salvador took great interest in the welfare of the community. His contemporaries discovered him to be clear, decisive and fair. They found him to be a man of great intelligence and political acuity, who could ably handle civic, political and social problems. He was a well-accepted person in the society of Saligao, and hence, at a public meeting held in the village in November 1864, was chosen to head a committee responsible for the project of constructing the new church in the village. The meeting was held following the visit to Saligao of Goa Archbishop D Joao Crisostomo de Amorim Pessoa, who suggested that the time had come for Saligao to separate from the Goan parish of Nagoa and construct its own church. This suggestion was apparently the result of earlier correspondence initiated by Salvador with the ecclesiastical and civil authorities of Goa.

Mae de Deus Saligao Church, Goa : Saligao Serenade

The Saligao village people had also chosen Salvador as a leader and champion of the Partido Progressivo (Progressive Party) and member of the Municipality of Bardez. Later, he was elected Mayor of Bardez, the first son of Saligao to be elected to this high and influential position. In this capacity he left no stone unturned to secure Goan official approval for the building of the Saligao Church. The words of Salvador Pinto in Konkani at the conclusion of the public meeting in the village of Saligao thrilled the people. He remarked: “Ami soddsoddit Igroz bandteleanv“. From then on, Salvador Pinto and his committee, with the unanimous backing of Saligaokars, made speedy headway towards the goal of erecting the Saligao Church.

The plans and estimates that were submitted got official approval on 23 June 1865. It was finally decided to earmark funds of the Saligao Comunidade to the tune of 49,869 xerafins and 8 reis for the construction of the Saligao Church. The Inspector of Public Works, Major Martins, was asked to draw a plan for a Gothic church. Public tenders were invited. Salvador and the committee members ensured that no ganvkar of Saligao was allowed to have any hand in submission of tenders. The final and close scrutiny was made and the plan for the construction of the church was approved. The total cost of the Saligao Church was placed at 46,920 xerafins in silver.

A special session of ganvponn was held to elicit the popular will. The open deliberations were followed by voting and the signatures of those present were recorded in the minute-book. Those unable to write “thumbed” their approval instead.

It was an eventful day for the villagers when on 7 February 1867, the foundation stone was laid for the new church. On 25 October 1873 the Archbishop of Goa officially confirmed the name of Mae de Deus for the Saligao Church.

Salvador Pinto, with an uncanny sense of timing, quickly dispatched a petition to the government and the ecclesiastical authorities of Goa, pleading that the statue of Mae de Deus at Daugim in Old Goa be allowed to be taken to the new church in Saligao. The request was promptly granted. It was a milestone in the history of the Saligao Church.

At the same time, influential circles in Panjim and Old Goa moved the Overseas Minister in Lisbon to have the Goa Governor General’s order to shift the statue rescinded. It was done. But the directive rescinding the earlier order came too late. Meanwhile the new Saligao Church was solemnly inaugurated and blessed, and the statue of Mae de Deus was placed on the collateral altar. This happened on 26 November 1873, a red-letter day for the parishioners of Saligao, thanks in the main to the efforts of Salvador Pinto.

Two decades later, Salvador Pinto died at the age of 67, on 19 June 1894. In recognition of his services in the construction of the Mae de Deus Saligao Church, a perpetual tomb was granted to the Pinto family in the sanctuary of the Mae de Deus church close to the altar versus populum (facing the people).

5 comments on The man behind the Saligao Church

  • Tom De Souza

    Hi Greetings and God’s Blessings!

    I am desperately trying to contact our Parish Priest at Mae de Deus Church to get some important information about my ancestors..
    I would be grateful for your help in obtaining their E-mail address, and FAX Number and if possible the name of the current Parish Priest/Vicar.

    My name is Tom De Souza and my E-Mail Address as give above.
    Thank you for your help in advance. God Bless.

  • Rahul

    hi … this is rahul… its been great reading the article.. i literally felt as if i was in ancient saligao…. i wud really like to thank from the bottom of my heart to you…

    I have great bonding with this village even thoe my parents are basically not from saligao… i would even like to thank god for giving them the idea of coming down to saligao n get settled here even before i was born.

  • Alice Santiago Faria

    I’m a portuguese architect studing goan architecture in the 19th and 20th centuries. I’ve found online a post of Fr. Mascarenhas on Saligão Church ([saligaonet] Saligao church construction…Thu, 09 Oct 2003) where Fr. Mascarenhas talks about two photos of the church where we could see differences from the original to the church as it is today. I would be very interested to look to this photos. Would it be possible to send me by email or to publish then online? This is very interesting information as I never saw anywhere before that the church was altered.I would appreciate any information regarding this subject.
    I thank you for all the help possible.

  • Fr. Cyril de Souza SDB

    This comment is with regard to a “Post” about “The Man behind the Saligao Church”. I remember once when I had visited the Saligaon Church (that was in May 1962), I remember reading on a “Memorial Stone” in the front of the Church which mentioned a certain Fr. Halleluia de Souza. Could anyone give further information about this person? Was he not the “man behind the Saligao Church”? I am just curious about this. I do hope some historian could give input about this inscription. Thanks.

  • Fr. Nascimento Mascarenhas

    Dear Fr. Cyril de Souza,
    Preace of Jesus be with you and greetings to you from rainy Margao.
    I was surprised myself that I did not know you inspite of you having connections with our Saligao village and that you are a Don Bosco Priest and Professor of Catechetics in Salesian Institution in Rome. Well never did the ex-provincial of Salesians in Mumbai Fr. Ivo Coelho, my good friend nor the newly elected Provincial of the Goa Province Fr. Ian Figueiredo nor even your close neighbour , the aged Diocesan priest residing at Don Bosco, Panjim,for many many years Fr. Ernesto Saldanha from Arrarim, Saligao, tell me anything regarding your good-self. They I am sure do not know your saligao connections. But at least my friends and members of Saligao Union, now Association , Mumbai of which your grand-father was the President mention anything about you though I too am member of saligao Union mumbai SO TO COME TO KNOW YOU AS OUR SALIGAO BHAV IS A JOYFUL EVENT
    I think your grand-mother, wife of Mr. Durante de Souza is the sister of late Bishop of Bassein,( Pithian) Burma( Nyanmar) Most Rev. Joseph Valerius Sequeira. Am I correct? in that connection I have much to tell you and get some more information regarding Bishop Valerius Sequeira . I have heard that the present Bishop in Burma knew Bishop Valerius Sequeira and is now been chosen as the Cardinal of Nyanmar. and he is member of your Salesian fraternity. Congratrulations to you. In this context i would like to have your e-mail so that i can give you the information on Fr. Alleluia de Sousa. For the present it is suffice to know he was not connected with Saligao Church building as he was a seminarian when our Saligao church was founded on 26th November, 1873.
    Fr. João Alleluia de Boa Vitória Souza was born in Saligao, Bardês on 10th April 1852 and was ordained priest by Archbishop Ornelas in Panjim Church on 22-12-1877( four years after innauguration of Saligao church) His memorial in Saligao church is for different reasons. I did make a little study about Fr. Alleluia which I would like to send you privately. So please give or send me your e-mail address .May the good Lord bless you always. fr. nascimento mascarenhas your ganv-bhav.

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