As Saligao’s Mae de Deus Church celebrates 150 years...

Sunil D’Cruz | NOVEMBER 26, 2023, 12:48 AM IST
As Saligao’s Mae de Deus Church celebrates 150 years...

“Once a thriving suburb of ‘Golden Goa’, Daugim is today a deary waste. What was the abode of the proud Fidalgos has been reduced to a ‘deserted village’.   

But though Daugim is dead, Saligao lives, for in Saligao, Daugim is a living memory, and to live in the minds of men is not to die. A golden link – the beautiful image of our patroness, Mae de Deus – binds the two villages in an indissoluble union. Once the priceless possession of Daugim, this miraculous image is today the priceless treasure of Saligao.”   

In their book ‘Saligao: Focus on a Picturesque Goan Village’, brought out to celebrate the centenary of the church, 50 years way back in 1973, and dedicated to Mae de Deus, co-authors late Alfred D’Cruz, the first Indian sub-editor of the Times of India, Mumbai in 1947 and late J Patrocinio de Souza trace its history. The book is illustrated by world-renowned cartoonist late Mario Miranda.   

Well the priceless image is that of Mae de Deus (Mother of God), taken from the ruins of the convent of Mae de Deus in Daugim, Old Goa and then installed in the Mae de Deus Church in Saligao.   

Gothic architecture   

Inaugurated on November 26, 1873, Mae de Deus Church (Konkani for Mother of God) in the village of Saligao, Bardez, now celebrates 140 years. What makes the church unique is that it is the only one with Gothic architecture in Goa, inspired by the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, making it a tourist attraction. The church is beautifully illuminated in the evenings.   

One of the oldest churches in North Goa, the outer structure looks stunning with a silver bell in the centre at the top of the church, spires all around, and a statue of Mae de Deus in the centre of the altar, inside the church.   

The foundation stone of Mae de Deus Church was laid on February 7,1867 and it was Major Martins, Inspector of the Public Works Department who drew the Gothic plan of the Catholic church.   

Retiro at Daugim   

Researching further, the co-authors of the book ‘Saligao: Focus on a Picturesque Goan Village’ state, “So far as we are concerned, much more important than the reason for the location of the Retiro at Daugim, is how it came to be dedicated to the Mother of God.   

According to Friar Amaro de S. Antonio, the writer of the introduction to the Franciscan Chapter-lists, it was Archbishop Gaspar who, in a moment of inspiration, chose the Mother of God as the patroness of the Retiro. The Archbishop may have indeed proposed the name, but there is no need to presume that he was inspired to do so, for, as we have seen, there was already a chapel dedicated to the Mother of God at Daugim, just as the late Anacieta Lobo did not have to be inspired to name the school that he founded at Saligao as ‘Mater Dei’, when Mae de Deus was already the patroness of the Saligao village.   

The Friary of Madre de Deus was inaugurated on October 31, 1569. The members of the new Retiro was taken in a solemn procession to their new abode, with the Archbishop of Goa, the Custos of St. Thomas Custody, the Cathedral Chapter and the whole community of the convent of St. Francis of Assisi joining it. This Retiro of Daugim eventually became the mother-house, first of the Custody, and later of the Province of Madre de Deus. Attached to the Friary of Daugim was the Church of Madre de Deus with the beautiful statue, which today is the chief ornament of the Saligao Church, adorning its main altar. To the best of our knowledge, the statue is about four hundred years old. The year 1973 could, therefore, be taken to mark not only the first centenary of our Saligao Church but also the fourth centenary of the statue of Mae de Deus that finds an honoured niche therein.”   

Statue of Mae de Deus   

The beautiful wooden statue of Mae de Deus, painted in golden colour, was ceremoniously taken from the convent of Mae de Deus Church in Daujim and was installed in the Saligao church.   

Mae de Deus has blessed the village of Saligao, making it a prosperous village with several eminent Goans. Saligaokars, who for centuries earlier had to visit the Holy Trinity Church, their parish church at neighbouring Nagoa village in Bardez, today have the beautiful 150-year-old Mae de Deus Church with the Saligao medical centre, adjacent to it.   

Share this