Indian Catholic News

Unique Marian devotion at Mapusa church

The feast takes place once a year on the Monday following the third Sunday after Easter.

 
Panaji: 

The Feast of Our Lady of Miracles at the Church of Saint Jerome in the Mapusa, located nearly 10 miles north of Panjim, draws devotees from multiple religions – and coconut oil plays a role in their observances.

“It’s a unique Marian devotion, where Catholics and devotees of other faiths, with their deep conviction of the presence of God, show their love and venerate our Blessed Mother,” Father Mario Saturnino Dias, whodirects the center for missions for the Archdiocese of Goa and Daman, told CNA April 20.

The feast takes place once a year on the Monday following the third Sunday after Easter.


The Franciscans built the Church of St. Jerome in 1594 in Mapusa. On its main altar is the statue of Our Lady of Miracles flanked by two smaller altars on either side, each with the statue of St. John the Baptist and St. Jerome.

The week-long annual festivity starts with spiritual preparation of the faithful through novenas, catechesis, confession, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and several Masses. The devotees are undeterred by the hot summer weather, travelling for miles from distant villages. Many come on foot to venerate the Virgin Mary and to pour coconut oil over the statue.

Fr. Simon Rico Fernandes OFM Cap presided at the solemn thanksgiving Mass this year on April 11 with a large number of concelebrant priests, religious, and hundreds of faithful.
At the end of the Mass the faithful held a colorful procession. They carried the statue of Our Lady of Miracles and sang Marian hymns of praise. They lined up to venerate the statue, presenting flowers and candles, and pouring coconut oil over the statue.

According to Fr. Dias, the custom of pouring oil is devotees’ humblest way to express their gratitude. Hepointed out that the use of oil and anointing is also found in many places in the Bible.

Oil has long been considered a valuable product. At times it was the only form of wealth poor people could offer in Churches and temples for the lighting of lamps.

Fr. Dias reflected that in Goa, “People converted to Christianity under the Portuguese colonial era. They may still carry some traditional influences where some popular devotions may need purification.”

“But,” he added, “we need to study and educate and catechize people before introducing changes, because popular devotions sustain the religiosity of our people and lead them to the Eucharist.”

Source: CNA

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