Milagres church

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Special thanks to the staff at Milagres Church office for providing this information
 

The Church of Our Lady of Miracles, Milagres, better known as Milagres church, was built by Bishop Thomas de Castro, a Theatine priest of Salsette in 1680. It is thus more that 300 years old.

Attached to the Church is the Chapel of St. Monica, the Patroness of the Catholic Mother’s Sodality, the first of its kind in the Diocese when it was started in 1887 by Fr. Torri, S.J. He built the Chapel probably the same year. It contains a magnificent altar with a French painting of St. Monica and her son St. Augustine which is a rare piece of art.

Milagres Church

In the seventeenth century christianity was in a sorry state on account of a dearth of priests and the rival claims to the territory by the Sees of the Verapoly and Goa. In fact the See of the archibishop of goa was vacant for over twenty-two years. Msgr Antony Brandao was appointed Archibishop later. The Holy See seeing this state of affairs appointed Bishop Thomas de Castro Vicar Apostolic of canara and Malabar. He took up his residence at Calicut but later moved to Mangalore where he abode at Milagres near the site of the present Church.

He obtained this site from Queen Chennamal and the Bednore Kings as ‘inam’. He built the first Church at the site of the present cemetery in 1680. He died on 16 July 1684 and lies buried at the south-eastern corner of the cemetery. His grave with a bronze slab can still be identified.

Some time later, Queen Chennamal and King Basappa resumed the land. In about 1715 a Mangalorean, Fr. Pinto, secured the land again from King Somashekar II (1714-1739). His nephew Fr. A. Pinto who succeeded him, built a new Church on the site of the present one, in 1756. After his death his brother Xavier’s wife, Maryanne Monteiro, took possession of the land.

In 1763 Kanara fell under the suzerainty of Hyder Ali and in 1782, his son, Tippu Sultan. He suspected the loyalty of Christians and on Ash Wednesday, 24 February 1784 about 1,80,000 were seized by his soldiers and herded to his capital, Seringapatnam. They also destroyed 27 of their Churches including the Milagres Church. Some of the stones of this Church were utilized by Tippu to erect the Idgah on Lighhouse Hill. The Idgah still exists.

Amongst those who returned to Mangalore from Seringapatnam after the death of Tippu was Lawrence Bello, a Baker to the Europeans who built a chapel to replace the Church demolished by Tippu, on the site of the present Church at a cost of about Rs. 400/-. Father Mendez, the Vicar, secured the necessary furniture, et. Raised funds and got a contribution of Rs. 600/- from the Government with the help of Salvadore Pinto (brother-in-law of Maryanne Monteiro and former Munshi under Tippu and laid the foundation for a new spacious Church in 1811. Amongst the more distinguished families who contributed towards the building were the two Coelho families, the Gonsalveses, the Mascarenhases and Vazes. Sir Thomas Munro, the Governor of Madras on a petition from the Christians of Kanara exempted the land of the Church from assessment.

As stated, Fr. Mendez built a new Church in 1811. Exactly 100 years later in 1911, the facade of this Church collapsed. Fr. (later Msgr) Frank Pereira was the Parish Priest at the time. The same year he erected the present magnificent Church with Fr. Diamanti S.J. (of Jeppoo Seminary fame) as architect. This is the present Church except for a portico which was put up later.

The Church is probably one of the many artistic houses of prayer in the District. It measured 49.5 by 275 meters with portico 17.5 by 7 meters. Mounted on pedestals are six statues of apostles and the facade with the statues reminds on of St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome. The main altar with the life-like statue of Our Lady contains the superscription "Altare Previlegiatum". It is a magnificent monolithic marble altar, the gift of the late Mr. Nicholas Britto, the illustrious Tahsildar of the last century. So are the statues of St. Antony, St. Joseph, and St. Francis Xavier, considered the best of their kind in the south and the smaller bell which has since been given to a church in the mofussil. The Souvenir (1973) of the Holy Cross Church Kulshekar, however, suggests that the Altar and the statues were imported from France by Abbe Dubois (Farad Sahib) to be installed in that Church which he had started to build but that the latter was left unfinished as being too florid for a village and that hence the altar and statues were transferred to Milagres.

The Church contains the miraculous shrine of st. Antony of Padua, the great Wonder Worker. It was founded by Fr. (later Msgr) M. P. Colaco in 1898. The Altar was conferred the privileged status on 22-1-1902 by Pope Leo XIII. The Shrine has attained an all-India fame and attracts on enormous congragation every Tuesday at the weekly devotions and the two feasts of the Saint on 4 February and 13 June and the Triduums preceding them. It is known for its record of votive offerings as also for its model Charity Institutes sprawling over an area of 50 acres in Jeppoo and catering to the neds of all kinds of humaniy, suffering or otherwise, children, youth, the halt, the infirm and sich, numbering in all about 500.

Thanks to its central location in the heart of Mangalore, the Parish claims some of the leading Catholic Institutions in the District. To name a few we have the Bishops House, St. Aloysius College, the Great Carmel, M.C.C. Bank Ltd., the Catholic Club, the Catholic Educational Co-operative society, Catholic Association of South Kanara, the Konkani Natak Sabha with its Don Bosco Hall the venue of periodical dramatic entertainments, meetings and weddings.

Sodalities, Confraternities, etc.: The Parish contains an unique institution, name the Confraternity of Our Lady of the Seven Dolours, probably the only one of its kind in the country and the second in the world. The members drape themselves like acolytes with white surplices and a black satin cape to which is attached a silver emblem containing a heart with a sword piercing it, reminding one of the Sorrowful Virgin Mother.

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