The Golden Jubilee of Saligao Church (1923) – II

by Fr. Nascimento Mascarenhas

Before the Golden Jubilee of Mae de Deus Church in Saligao on 26 November 1923, a well-organised Triduum was held in the church, with religious services both in the morning and evening. After its conclusion, the parishioners of Saligao gathered at the chapel of St. Anthony in Sonarbhatt. The historical statue of Mae de Deus had been kept there overnight on 25th November 1873 before being taken to the church. From then on, this date was celebrated with recitation of the Rosary, a sung litany and a hymn of Our Lady of Mae de Deus every year. Although this prayer service did not form part of the programme of the festivities for the Golden Jubilee, it was a spontaneous gathering promoted by the people of Sonarbhatt, and other parishioners too joined them in celebration.

Around 11.45 pm, some people gathered around their respective chapels while others armed themselves with musical instruments and stayed ready in their balconies and courtyards, awaiting the ringing of the bells of the church accompanied by 21 salvos of the khon’nes. All the chapel bells were also rung and people sang praises to the Mother of God in their homes. This was something quite unusual, and it marked the beginning of the festival of the 50th Anniversary of the founding of Saligao’s Mae de Deus Church.

After just a few hours, the Angelus bells rang again at 5:00 am along with the khon’nes and firecrackers and the Alvorada played by Banda Central from Margao. Wafting along the morning breeze, the sounds of the brass band could be heard in every nook and corner of the village and the villagers awoke. The brass band paraded from the church, playing a series of popular tunes, going past the Aula (primary school), D. Pedro Road, the old-age home, the old tinto and then back via the same path to the church, with the villagers cheering and celebrating all along.

Dressed in their Sunday best, the villagers attended the morning Eucharistic celebration in the church at 9:00 am. With Our Lady’s image kept in the transept of the church and all her dear children around her giving thanks to Almighty God, the numerous clergy gathered at the sacristy took part in the High Mass specially approved by his Excellency the Patriarch of the Maternity of Our Lady. The Mass was celebrated by Rev. Cirilo Saldanha from Arrarim, with    Rev. Duarte Fernandes from Donvaddo and Nicolau José Cordeiro from Mollembhatt serving as acolytes. The orchestra played the mass of Santa Cicilia with a magnificent choir of singers.

All the altars were tastefully decorated with natural and artificial flowers of all colours and hues under the meticulous eye of the artist Rev. Cirilo Saldanha. The space where the pavilion of Our Lady stood was decorated with green plants and vases with flowers of various colours. After the gospel, the Rev. Parish Priest Bacharel Sebastião José Lopes Lobo ascended the pulpit, and with intense emotion uttered the first words “Te-Deum Laudamus” (We praise you, O Lord). Then the preacher spoke about what must have been going on in the minds and hearts of his parishioners and with words of praise and thanksgiving to God spoke about the Mother of God being a teacher and mother for 50 years to her sons and daughters of Saligao. It was a stirring sermon. The rest of the ceremony went on well, at the end of which the blessing of the Blessed Sacrament was given and the ceremony ended with the singing of Salve Regina (Hail Holy Queen). The mass ended at 10 am and the devotional music played by the band filled the hearts of the parishioners with pride and joy as they left the church.

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