Historic over 350 Years Old Renovated MILAGRES CHURCH (Our Lady of Miracles Church), Hampankatta in City Blessed by Bishop of Mangaluru Diocese Rev Dr Peter Paul Saldanha
Mangaluru: At the centre of the city stands a magnificent structure, a church under the patronage of ÓUR LADY OF MIRACLES or popularly known as ‘MILAGRES CHURCH’. This church has a history of about 350 years and even though the structure of the church has changed many times the present structure is more than a century old. Maintenance of such structures is a difficult task and over the years some parts of the church had deteriorated and required repairs.
The Parish team, the parish council and the parish community took up this task to repair and repaint the church. Due to the pandemic there were some obstacles initially but Mary our mother never leaves our side. It is through her continuous intercession that this project of beautification of the church interior came to fruition after many months of work. On Friday August 27, the parishioners and devotees of Milagres witnessed the blessing of the church by Most Rev. Dr Peter Paul Saldanha, Bishop of Mangaluru. The bishop along with the concelebrants Fr Bonaventure Nazareth-Parish Priest, Fr Ivan D’Souza the Assistant Parish Priest, Fr Onil D’Souza-the Director of St Anthony Asharam-Jeppu, Fr J B Crasta, Fr Walter D’Mello, Fr Maxim D’Souza, Fr Jason Monis and Fr Kenneth Crasta prayed for the community and the church. The mass began with the bishop blessing the church building and the community of faithful.
In his homily Bishop exhorted the faithful 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 serves as a reminder that we too are the temples of God. Mary our mother rejoices by singing the Magnificat in her calling to be the new ark of the covenant, through whom God chose his son to be born. She remembers all the prophecies come true in her and through her and she rejoices. In imitating Mary our patron we too rejoice in opening the temple that was closed for many months for repair. We are united in a special way through this Eucharistic banquet and for this we are joyful. God nourishes us through this banquet of His Son. Let us too like Mary rejoice in this privilege that God has given us to nourish ourselves by visiting this temple.
Fr Bonaventure thanked everyone who has been a part of this project for the past few months, from our well wishers and donors, parish clergy, the parish pastoral council, the service providers and all who have involved themselves in this work. The bishop honoured the service providers and the Vice President and Secretary of the parish council who represent the parishioners of Milagres.
The ceremony ended with the bishop blessing the renovated grotto of our patron. The faithful joined in praying the rosary with lighted candles, led by Fr Walter D’Mello, the judicial Vicar of the diocese and former parish priest.
ABOUT MILAGRES CHURCH- MANGALURU :
The Milagres Church (Church of Our Lady of Miracles) is a historic Roman Catholic Church situated 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 constructed at the site of the present-day cemetery. It is one of the oldest churches in Dakshina Kannada.
First Milagres Church (1680−1784) : Local tradition has it that the Idgah mosque in Mangaluru (opposite St. Aloysius College), was constructed by Tipu Sultan with stones taken from the destroyed Milagres Church. Due to its substantial Roman Catholic population, Mangaluru occupied a prominent place in the church administration in India during the 17th century. The Goan Catholics who migrated to Canara lacked priestly leadership, as many of the migrant priests had returned to Goa when the Portuguese withdrew from the region. In 1658, a Carmelite missionary, Fr. Vincento Maria de Santa Catharina visited Canara and reported to Rome about the miserable state of Christianity in that region.
Present Our Lady of Milagres aka MILAGRES CHURCH
The Holy See came to the aid of the Canara Christians, and appointed a Theatine, Bishop Thomas de Castro as the Vicar Apostolic of Canara and Malabar in 1674. Bishop de Castro arrived in Mangalore in 1677, and received a piece of land from the Keladi Queen Chennamma as a gift. After the church was constructed there in 1680, he took up residency in its quarters. Bishop de Castro died on 16 July 1684, and his remains were buried in the south eastern corner of the cemetery, where his grave may be identified by its bronze slab next to the St. Monica Chapel.
After Queen Chennamma’s death, the land was repossessed by her successor, King Basavappa. In 1715, a local priest Fr. Pinto secured the land again from Somashekara II. His nephew Fr. Alfred Pinto, who succeeded him, built a new church at the site of the present church in 1756. In 1763, Canara fell under the suzerainty of Hyder Ali and then his son Tipu Sultan in 1782. Believing that the local Christians had conspired against him with the British during the Second Anglo-Mysore War; Tipu captured about 60,000 Mangalorean Catholics on Ash Wednesday 24 February 1784, and herded them to his capital at Seringapatam. In the same year, he also destroyed 27 churches including the Milagres Church.
After Tipu was killed by the British during the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War on 4 May 1799, the Mangalorean Catholics were freed from Captivity and most subsequently 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 furniture, and together with Tipu’s former munshi Salvador Pinto, raised funds and obtained a grant of Rs. 600 to build the church from the government. He laid the foundation stone for a new spacious church in 1811. In 1911, the facade of the church collapsed, following which then incumbent Parish priest Fr. Frank Pereira erected the present church structure with Fr. Diamanti S.J. as an architect. A portico was added later to the structure.