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The Patroness of Saligao Church

by Fr. Nascimento Mascarenhas

I have heard many sermons preached on Mae de Deus at Saligao Church, a place of worship that attracts thousands of tourists who visit Goa. Many people have written about the beautiful Mae de Deus statue too, but the best description I’ve read so far is the one by the late Hubert D’Sousa. Rather than attempt a description of the Mae de Deus statue on my own, I present to you his version on the statue of Our Lady of Mae de Deus which appeared in the Centenary Souvenir (1873-1973) of the Church of Mae de Deus, Saligao, Goa, in 1973:

I have seen Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece, the Mona Lisa, at the Louvre at Paris. I have seen the various paintings of the Madonna by the world’s best artists, in the capitals and principal towns of Europe. I have seen the renowned statues of the Mother of God at Lourdes, Fatima and Knock (Ireland), where she appeared to different people in different forms. I have seen her in the numerous cathedrals and churches of Rome, Lisbon, Paris, Florence, Venice and London, in the form of beautiful statues carved by renowned sculptors. But I must admit, with all honesty and utmost sincerity, that I was never so entranced by any of them as I was with the Mae de Deus statue in Saligao, when I had the opportunity of seeing Our Mother at very close quarters during the centenary celebrations of the Saligao Church in November 1972.

Clothed in her more than three centuries old, ancient style, gold painted dress and mantle, loaded with gold bangles on both hands, untarnished by the ravages of weather of a century, restfully seated and queenly in appearance, with a royal gold crown on her head, her face of ecstatic, cherubic and yet matronly beauty. She was ravishing in her charm and splendour. I was held bewitched for a continuous 15 minutes while tears rolled down my cheeks in an unceasing stream of joy and sorrow. What a heavenly face! Mona Lisa to me then was but a shadow, and as I gazed and gazed, standing like a statue myself, these thoughts flitted through my mind. Oh Mother of God, the sculptor who created this likeness of thee in wood must have been specially gifted by you and inspired by a special heavenly vision to produce a face of such everlasting beauty and grace, that is a joy forever. For in it I found:

  • A Beauty for the artistic minded
  • A Serenity for the clean of heart
  • A Consolation for the sorrowing
  • A Sadness for the hardened sinner
  • A Gladness for the repentant one
  • An Encouragement for the faltering
  • A Mercy for the fallen
  • A Pardon for the returning prodigal
  • A Smile for the child
  • A Beckoning for the youth
  • An Embrace for the maiden
  • A Guidance for the troubled
  • A Prop for the aged
  • A Security for the helpless
  • A Proximity for the dying
  • A Hope for the despairing
  • An Answer for the appealing
  • A Love for her clients
  • A Refuge at the hour of death
  • A Passport to Heaven.

I thought to myself, if this ‘Lovely Lady’ Mae de Deus whom we venerate today can be all these things and many more to the people of Saligao, then what need have we to worry, what need to fear, what need to weep—when we know, believe and trust that the mantle of her protection is always over us and those near and dear to us, both here and abroad. Mae de Deus is extending to us her delicate hands to draw us up to her into her bosom and thence into the kingdom of her Son, there to enjoy her motherly company for all eternity, provided of course we show her our filial love in our joy and our sorrow, our trials and tribulations, and never neglect or discard the devotions she likes best—the Rosary and the Memorare.

2 comments on The Patroness of Saligao Church

  • gerard delaney

    A beautiful description indeed. I knew Mr. Hubert as a young lad in 1969-70.

  • alita castellino d'souza

    I have tears in my eyes as I write this. I am a grand child from the house Manuel Nascimento Abreu and was alittle girl of 8 when I receive d my First Holy Communion in this beautiful church . Etched in my mind is the beautiful face of Mae De Deus looking down at me as I held the white mother of pearl rosary given me by my parents and asked her to always stay with me . I still remember the beautiful hymn sung on that day Salve Santa Mae De Deus nossa guia e protectora
    Salve Regina do Ceus, Sacratissima Senhora
    Augusta e soberana, dai nos a vossa proteccao
    com sois a nossa patrona ouvi a nossa oracao

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