Amongst the tall and magnificent churches of Goa, one outstanding structure is of St. Anne that is the most exquisite surviving monuments in India. It is located in the small village Agonda and surrounded by the beaches.
ST. ANNE, PARISH PATRON
The patron of a parish is very important to that community of faith, because the patron saint’s life reflects the ongoing hope and reality of daily Christian living — that an ordinary person can become one with Jesus here on earth and accomplish wonderful things through His grace. The patron is St. Anne, whose feast is July 26 (In the parish feast is celebrated on the First Saturday of the month of May).
She was the mother of Mary and the grandmother of Jesus Christ.
Anne and her husband, Joachim, were rich and very devoted to God. Nazareth was their home. Though married many years, they had no children. The Jewish people believed that the inability to have children was a punishment from God. For this reason, Joachim felt unworthy to offer sacrifice in the temple. He was deeply saddened and retreated to the mountains to pray for God’s forgiveness. Anne prayed in her home, begging God to give her a child. She promised God if she were to give birth, she would dedicate the child to His service.
Although Anne was thought to be past childbearing years, her prayers and those of Joachim were heard. An angel came to Anne and said, “The Lord has looked upon your tears. You will give birth to a daughter, and she will be honored by all the world.” The angel made the same promise to Joachim.
A daughter was born to Anne and she called her Miriam, Hebrew for “Mary.” Anne and Joachim offered their child to God in the services of the temple while Mary was very young.
Anne means “grace” in Hebrew. God endowed St. Anne with special grace to be the mother of the Mother of God. Anne is the patron of mothers, children and housewives. Her prayers in intercession to Jesus are very powerful. After all, Jesus was her grandson. Anne’s virtuous life was surely a great influence on Mary, and thus on Jesus on the everyday level of His human life.
St Anne Church site was bought by some of the local devotees in 1577 and a humble chapel was constructed there by the local priest to convert the villagers. The present day church was reconstructed by Mons Francisco do Rego with his own money, which was completed by Father Antonio Francisco da Cunha in 1695.
There is an interesting tale related to consecration of this splendid monument. Chapel when constructed initially was simply being used for the conversion of nearby villagers and was not dedicated to any saint. Later one day a man claimed to have a vision of a woman walking down the hill, and she wanted to live in that church. Subsequently, a village woman claimed of having seen that same woman in her dream. The village woman said that in the dream, the lady had hold her hand and magically cured her. The dream lady had told her name as Anna and she wanted to reside in the church uphill. The village woman graciously converted to Christianity. The whole village and the priest being stunned with these incidences interpreted these as a sign of the divine intervention and thus dedicate the church to St. Anne. Thus the church was named ‘Church of St. Anne’ or Quinta de Sant Ana’. This church initially erected as a chapel later was promoted to a church in December 1888.
The church is known for its splendid architecture and beautiful façade. The church is made in baroque architectural style. The Church of St Anne has a unique line of Indian architecture reinvented with Portuguese style, in the modifications that suite the natives’ tastes. Church has a unique cylindrical roof structure. In the transept of the church, directed towards the altar is a picture of St. Anne with a staff in hand and wearing a hat as she was seen in the visions.
According to the Christian tradition Saint Anne of David’s house and line was the mother of the Virgin Mary. Anne in this church is also shown as the matriarch of the Holy Kinship, the extended family of Christ. This story makes a popular subject of medieval Germany.
The Church was declared as the “national monument” during the Portuguese era under Government Portario No. 1360 of 31/3/31. Irrespective of its enormity and outstanding architecture, the church has been left out by the Architectural Survey of India (ASI).
The feast of St. Anne also known as “Touceachem Feast” or the “Cucumber Feast” is marked by the rituals ‘Senhora, Tomai Colher, dai me mulher’ done by bachelors and spinsters wishing for a wife. Women perform ‘Senhora, tomai urido dai me marido’ and married couples perform ‘Senhora, tomai pepino dai me menino’.
Reconstructed in Neo-Roman style
Large size, 5 bays x 3 storeys
Strained glass panels in façade windows
Floral designs in relief around niche
Ribbed pilasters and modified alettes seen in frontispiece
Twin bell towers with spear finials