Compiled by Jazreen Fernandes | Empowering Goa
One of Goa’s finest creations is the Mae De Deus Church in Saligao, Bardez. Its illuminated view in the evenings and the nights has a paradisical charm. That is the best time to view this exquisite piece of Gothic architecture in Goa.
Originally situated at Daujim, a tiny suburb of Old Goa in the 16th century, of which today only the tallest cross on a pedestal is seen amongst shrubs and coconut groves. The church dedicated to the Mother of God or Our Lady came to be built at Bardez in the 19th century.
The Saligao Church was inaugurated on November 26, 1873 and its foundation stone was laid on February 7, 1867.
It was a dream of the Saligaonkars to see this Church as they had made a lot of efforts in this direction. One such Saligaonkar was Francisco Salvador Gama Pinto who discussed the proposal of building a church at Saligao with the Archbishop of Goa. The Archbishop followed up this proposal and the inspector of Public works, Major Martins, was asked to draw up a plan for a Gothic Church.
The exquisite wooden statue of Mae De Deus is a beautiful example of Goan workmanship painted in golden colour. This wooden statue was originally from the Mae De Deus Church of Daujim-Old Goa and was taken ceremoniously in a decorated boat across the Mandovi River to Betim, and in a flower bedecked bullock cart over to Pilerne. On Saligao hill, where a band struck a tune, a salvo of 21 gun shots rented the air and thousands of people raised cheers which echoed over the green hill.
The statue was installed in the church. All the black stones which adorn the church in several places were excavated from the site of the Mae De Deus convent in Daujim-Old Goa.
The immaculate white Mae De Deus Church of Saligao has the typical pointed arch, with buttresses supporting its exteriors, belfry, and spikes all so arranged to create a wonderful and first piece of Gothic architecture – the only one of its kind in the whole of Goa. It is not only the pride of Saligaonkars, but for us Goenkars too.
The first Sunday in May of every year is the Feast in honour of the Patroness, Mae de Deus.
And the ten days before that, the church holds a mass everyday, after which the people hold a “Salve”. This Salve aims at unity and togetherness of the all Saligaokars.