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First Mass in Saligao Church

by Fr Nascimento Mascarenhas

In an earlier essay (A Red-Letter Day for Saligao) I had detailed the events that took place at the time of inauguration and installation of the image of Mae de Deus in Saligao Church on 26 November 1873. This statue formerly belonged to the Mother of God Friary, located in Daugim near Old Goa.

The Daugim monastery and its church had been inaugurated on 31 October 1569. But by 1878, the friary had disappeared and the church was in a tottering condition. However, the miraculous statue of Mae de Deus was taken to Saligao on 24 November 1873. The pulpit, the main bell, and three altars were taken to Mapuca Church in 1839. One of the bells and an organ was taken to Moira Church. Another bell adorned the Church of Jua (on St. Estevam island, Ilhas). Two other bells and the reredos (altar backdrop) were dispatched to Assolna Church in Salcete. Then, what was still standing of the Friary and Church after all the years of neglect, was razed to the ground. Only the Cross remained erect, where, for three centuries, the Monastery and Church of the Mother of God once stood.

First Mass

In the new Saligao Church, on 27 November 1873, there was a solemn High Mass with a choir and music in honour of the Patroness of the Church. After the Gospel reading, the well-known preacher and one of the greatest luminaries of the Goan clergy, Rt. Rev. Canon Rosário de Melo preached a very stirring sermon. This was the first mass celebrated in the newly built church. After the solemn Mass, the miraculous image of Our Lady Mae de Deus was ceremoniously installed in the niche of the side altar dedicated to Her.

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On the same day three baptisms were held in the Church at regular intervals. An 8-year old boy, of non-Christian parents from Parra, was the first to be baptised in the Saligao Church. He was given the name Simão and was baptised by Rev. António Correa dos Reis Coelho, President of the Governmental Junta of the Archbishopric. His godfather was José Luis Fernandes from Saligao.

The second baptism was that of Maria Expectação Anna Candida Avelina Pinto, from Cotula. She was born on 7 June 1873 at Salem, Salvador do Mundo and baptised at home by Rev. José Francisco Pinto, Parish Priest of Salvador do Mundo, in articulo mortis(danger of death). However the supplementary ceremonies of baptism were performed in Saligao Church by Rt. Rev. Chief Ecclesiastical Judge and Promoter Domingos José Rafael Pinto, Parish Priest of Panjim. She is the daughter of Fortunato Martinho Pinto (Saligao) and D. Anna Clara Rosária Soares e Pinto (Salvador do Mundo)

The third baptism (supplementary ceremonies) was performed by Rev.Fr. Joaquim Bernardo da Lima, Parish Priest of Socorro. The child was given the name Rita Maria Amalina Cordeiro, having been earlier baptised in articulo mortis at home by António Xavier de Sousa, cleric with minor orders (menorista). She is the daughter of Vitorino Caridade Cordeiro and Anna Severina Fernandes both from Arrarim. She was born on 14 April 1873.

On this and successive days, a great number of devotees from different parts of the territory visited the church and placed their petitions before the miraculous statue and sought the intervention of Mae de Deus.

The Administrative Committee (Fábrica) and other personnel:

Rev. Fr. Vicar, pro tempore……….. President

Manuel António de Souza………….. Treasurer

José Vicente de Ramos……………… Secretary & Member

António José do Rosário e Abreo… Member

Francisco Salvador Pinto…………… Member

António Felipe de Saldanha………… Regedor (Administrator)

Church Personnel:

Parish Priest…………………………….. Rev. Fr. Caetano Xavier d’Abreu

Choir-Master & Teacher……………… António Nicolau d’Almeida

Sacristan…………………………………. Francisco Xavier Fernandes

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