CHRONICLES OF FEASTS, FESTIVALS OF GOA
There are two churches in Curca, one dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary (also called Nossa Senhora do Rosario Igreja em Curca in Portuguese) and the other to Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima. The Catholics here celebrate the feast on the second Sunday of October, which this year fell on October 8.
There are various theories regarding the construction of the church here. One theory says that it was constructed by Dom Manuel Lobo da Silveira, a Portuguese fidalgo in 1650. He had thought of constructing the Church in Curca before 1645, when he was a youth in Portugal. The foundation stone for the first Church on a hillock, quite far from the catholic population, was laid by Dom Frei Francisco dos Martires (1636-52) in February 1646, during the governance of Viceroy D Filipe Mascarenhas. It was then decided to hand it over to the Dominicans. This cannot be so since Manuel left Lisboa for Goa only in 1649, married Dona Francisca de Moraes in 1651, who passed away in 1682 in Raia. Before she passed away, she expressed the wish to be buried in the Rosary Church. Her mortal remains lie there.
There is also a writing that states that the Dominicans asked permission from the king of Portugal to construct a church here, which was given in 1646 by the King D. Joâo IV. The foundation stone for constructing the church was laid on February 24, 1647, and it was completed in 1650. It was inaugurated on June 29, 1650, with the Eucharist. The first parish priest here was Fr. Frei Paulo de Santa Catharina, who remained here till his death.
Since this Church was on a hill and in an isolated place and also far from the local population, the villagers thought of constructing a new one, below the hill in ganvkar vaddo and decided to dedicate it to Our Lady of Rosary of Fatima. The same was blessed by archbishop Raul Gonsalves on May 6, 1984. This Church is used during weekdays, while the old church is used for Sunday masses, funerals, major festivals and holy week services.
The old church has four altars. The main one is dedicated to Our Lady of Rosary. To the right of this statue is the statue of St Dominic and to the left of St Vincente Ferrer (Dominican Saints). Two other statues that are also here are that of St Peter and St Paul and below these are the statues of St Rita de Cassia and St Gonsalo de Amarante. The other altars are dedicated to St John the Baptist, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Our Lady of Remedios, which is also the privileged one.
Mons Gomes Catao in the Anuário da Arquidiocese the Goa, mentions that there are two chapels in the parish, dedicated to Santa Cruz, where Mass is said “per modum actus”.
The feast of Our Lady of the Rosary is also known as Rozachem Fest as devotees offer garlands of marigolds, which are called Rozam in Konkani. The feast was preceded by the Maddi and the nine-days Novena. The Feast Mass was celebrated at 9.30 am, followed by the procession, the blessing and the Veneration.
During the Novena days, the statue of Our Lady of the Rosary with Infant Jesus, which is usually in a glass-framed case was taken out and kept in a choral for adoration on the left side of the entrance; it remained here till the last Sunday of October. Eucharist was celebrated here on the Feast Day and the statue taken out in procession, after which it was kept back in the case.
On the Feast Day, people of the village, which has a majority of Hindus, climbed up the hillock to pay obeisance to Our Lady of the Rosary, the patron saint of the Curca church. One witnessed long queues of people, with garlands of marigold and candles in hand, waiting to pay respect to the statue of Our Lady of the Rosary. They did not disturb the regular liturgical services which were in progress at this time.
(The writer is Superior at Casa Professa, Basilica of Bom Jesus in Old Goa)