Mae De Deus Church, Saligao
One of Goa's finest architectural marvels is the Mae De Deus Church in Saligao. It has the typical pointed arch, with buttresses supporting its exteriors, belfry, and spikes all which have come together to create a wonderful piece of Gothic architecture. Its illuminated view in the evenings is at its best. Originally the church was situated at Daujim, a tiny suburb of Old Goa in the 16th century. The church dedicated to the Mother of God was 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.
According to historians, the exquisite wooden statue of Mae De Deus, painted in golden colour,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. At 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.
Besides the main altar, this church has another six other altars, dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Sacred heart of Mary, Christ the Redeemer, Our Lady of Asssumption, St.Francis Xavier and Our Lady of Piety. The altar, which is carved and gilded and tapers gracefully toward the ceiling.The altar of Christ the Redeemer holds the Blessed Sacrament which was consecrated by the Patriach Dom Antonio Valente during his pastoral visit in 1883. The image of St. Bonaventure which resides on the altar of St. Francis Xavier, was brought here from the College of St. Bonaventure in Old Goa
The Church Feast
The feast of Our Lady, the Mother of God is celebrated on the first Sunday of May. The feast day is preceded by a nine day novena, On each of these days different ward of the village take up the responsibility of organising each novena. After the mass, a small group of children are dressed up as angels and they perform a prayer dance before Our Lady and pay homage to her with offerings of flowers. The feast day sees a grand procession.