Extreme makeover! Reopening of the historic 350+ year old church of Milagres / renovation of the floor

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Extreme makeover! Reopening of the 350+ year old historic ‘Our Lady of Miracles’ / Milagres Church / Floor Renovation on Saturday October 15, 2022 at 5pm

Mangaluru: When one reaches the center of the city of Mangalore, one cannot miss the magnificent Church of Our Lady of Miracles, also known as “MILAGRES CHURCH” by many. Founded in 1680 by Bishop Thomas de Castro, Milagres Church is one of the oldest churches in Dakshina Kannada. It’s a beautiful work of art, but there’s more to it than art; it is a place where the faithful of Mother Mary come from afar to venerate her. This church has a history of around 350 years and even though the structure of the church has changed several times, the current structure is over a century old. Maintaining these structures is a difficult task and over the years parts of the church have deteriorated and required repairs.

The parish team, the parish council and the parish community are in charge of repairing and repainting the church. Due to the pandemic, there were some initial obstacles but with the blessing of Mother Mary and thanks to her continuous intercession this project of beautifying the interior of the church came to fruition after many months of work. On August 27, 2021, parishioners and devotees of Milagres witnessed the blessing of the repainted church by Bishop Peter Paul Saldanha, Bishop of Mangaluru. The bishop with the concelebrants Father Bonaventure Nazareth-pastor, Father Ivan D’Souza the assistant parish priest, Father Onil D’Souza-the director of St Anthony Ashram-Jeppu, Father JB Crasta, Father Walter D’Mello , Father Maxim D’Souza, Father Jason Monis and Father Kenneth Crasta prayed for the community and the church. The mass began with the blessing by the bishop of the church building and the community of the faithful.

In his homily, Bishop urged congregants to be joyful people. It is truly a joy for all of us that the church is open again. We began by blessing the church which reminds us that we too are the temples of God. Mary our mother rejoices singing the Magnificat in her vocation to be the new ark of the covenant, by which God chose her son to be born. She remembers all the prophecies that have come true in her and through her and she rejoices. By imitating Mary our patroness, we too rejoice to open the temple which has been closed for many months for repairs. We are united above all by this Eucharistic banquet and for that we are joyful. God feeds us through this banquet of his Son. Let us also rejoice like Mary in this privilege that God has given us to feed ourselves by visiting this temple.

A few months later, the parish team, the parish council and the parish community got down to the task of renovating the deteriorating church floor, and the flooring work began three months ago, and during the renovations, masses were held at the Milagres Degree College 5th Floor Rooftop Arena. Although it was planned to reopen the church before the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary on September 8, 2022, finally after the completion of the flooring works, the church of Milagres after renovation is ready to reopen this evening (Saturday October 15 at 5:00 p.m.) and the Eucharistic mass of thanksgiving at the end of the renovation of the church will be celebrated by Mgr Aloysius Paul D’souza – bishop emeritus and homily by Mgr Maxim L Noronha-vicar General of the Diocese of Mangalore.

Speaking to the Mangalorean team, Father Bonaventure Nazareth, the pastor of Milagres Church, said: “Even though the church is over 350 years old, the current structure was built in 1911, designed by the dad. Augustus Diamanti SJ an Italian architect, with a rich knowledge of European art. Over the last century, the church has welcomed many faithful who come to pray and seek the intercession of Mary, the Lady of Miracles. The parishioners had decided to renovate the floor of the church while keeping in mind the historicity of the structure of the church. Relying on the Lord and the intercession of our Mother, and on the generosity of the faithful, this work began a few months ago”.

“During the renovations, alternative arrangements have been made for the faithful to attend Sunday and daily masses. Sunday Masses were held in Milagres Degree College’s rooftop auditorium for all congregants, while weekday Masses were held in St Monica’s Chapel adjacent to the church. I wholeheartedly thank all those who have participated in this project over the past few months, among our supporters and donors, the parish clergy, the parish pastoral council, service providers and all those who have been involved in this project. I cordially invite the faithful to join the Eucharistic Mass of thanksgiving on Saturday, October 15 at 5 p.m.,” added Father Bonaventure.

Also addressing the Mangalorean team, the architect behind this project, Ar Nelson Pais of 2PKM Architects, Mangaluru/Mysuru, said, “This was a nearly Rs 1 project. 80 Lakh and we are happy that it is completed with the help of a team of architects and engineers. , namely Athiq Rahman, Gokul TK, Navaneeth BS, Shravani SB, Manoj K. and myself. First, this project was possible thanks to the clarity and vision of Fr. Bonaventure, parish priest. Research-based sourcing of tiles to match the original size, color and pattern of ‘encaustic tiles’, better known as ‘Athangudi tiles’, led us to Bharat Floor and Tiles of Bombay who also sent one of their best tile coats and polishers. Richard Rodrigues of Velankanni Constructions was in charge of all other civil works and went out of his way to facilitate the project”.

ABOUT MILAGRES CHURCH – MANGALURU:

Milagres Church (Church of Our Lady of Miracles) is a historic Roman Catholic church located in the Hampankatta locality of Mangaluru. The church was built in 1680 by Bishop Thomas de Castro, a Theatine from Divar, Goa. The original structure was built on the site of the current cemetery. It is one of the oldest churches in Dakshina Kannada.

First Church of Milagres (1680−1784): Local tradition holds that the Idgah Mosque in Mangaluru (opposite St. Aloysius College) was built by Tipu Sultan with stones taken from the destroyed church of Milagres. Due to its large Roman Catholic population, Mangaluru held a prominent place in church administration in India in the 17th century. The Goan Catholics who migrated to Canara lacked priestly leadership, as many migrant priests had returned to Goa when the Portuguese withdrew from the area. In 1658 a Carmelite missionary, Fr. Vincento Maria de Santa Catharina visited Canara and reported to Rome the miserable state of Christianity in that region.

The Holy See came to the aid of the Christians of Canara and appointed a Theatine Bishop Thomas de Castro as Vicar Apostolic of Canara and Malabar in 1674. The Bishop of Castro arrived in Mangalore in 1677 and received a land of Queen Keladi Chennamma. as a gift. After the construction of the church in 1680, he settled in his quarters. The Bishop of Castro died on July 16, 1684, and his remains were buried in the southeast corner of the cemetery, where his tomb can be identified by its bronze slab next to the chapel of Saint Monica.

After the death of Queen Chennamma, the land was taken over by her successor, King Basavappa. In 1715, a local priest, Fr. Pinto again secured the land of Somashekara II. His nephew Fr. Alfred Pinto, who succeeded him, built a new church on the site of the present church in 1756. In 1763, Canara fell under the suzerainty of Hyder Ali and then of his son Tipu Sultan in 1782. Believing that local Christians had conspired against him with the British during the Second Anglo-Mysore War; Tipu captured around 60,000 Mangalorean Catholics on Ash Wednesday February 24, 1784 and herded them to his capital at Seringapatam. In the same year he also destroyed 27 churches including the church of Milagres.

After Tipu was killed by the British during the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War on May 4, 1799, the Mangalorean Catholics were released from captivity and most later returned to Mangaluru. Among the returnees was a baker Lawrence Bello, who built a chapel to replace the demolished church, on the site of the present church at a cost of Rs. 400. Fr. Mendez, the Vicar Apostolic secured the necessary furnishings and , along with former munshi of Tipu, Salvador Pinto, raised funds and secured a grant of Rs. 600 to build the church from the government. He laid the foundation stone for a spacious new church in 1811. In 1911, the facade of the church collapsed, as a result of which the outgoing parish priest, Fr. Frank Pereira erected the present church structure with Fr. Diamanti SJ as architect. A portico was later added to the structure.

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