Our Lady of the Rosary - Navelim Feast

-by gasper crasto
[Please advise if any information compiled in this article is inappropriate or out of date]

Our Lady of Rosary Church – Navelim

Founded: 1598

Feast: 3rd Wednesday of November

Architectural Records:
• Mannerist: Neo-Roman style
• Relief images of sun and moon on fa├žade
• Twin octagonal towers capped with spear-and-ball finials

According to history and legend, the church was built in mud similar to other churches in Salcete between the years 1594 and 1598.

Unlike the other churches founded by the Portuguese, the builders of Navelim church were French Jesuits and the construction was financed by the villagers.

The first parish priest of Navelim Church was a French Jesuit Fr. John Sena (as listed in ‘Mitras Lusitanas no Oriente’, a catalogue of the priests belonging to the Archdiocese of Goa and its subordinate dioceses).

The church was initially dedicated to St. John the Baptist. It was later burnt down and another Church was built dedicated to Our Lady of Rosary at the present site in Navelim. This was burnt down again and finally the present Church of Navelim was constructed in 1604. 

#htmlcaption1 Our Lady of Rosary, Navelim Church interior... The magnificent church Church founded by French Jesuits Founded in the year 1598 The amazing towers of the church A view from the distance South side of the church Another view from the distance Our Lady of Rosary statue at the foot of the church Young devotees of Our Lady The brass band seen during the feast The famous Rosary High School in front of the church The fair of kaddio-boddio ...and festache chonnem ... the famous chauris-pao ... the giant wheel entertaintment
The present, Portuguese-style whitewashed structure was constructed later on when the older building became too small. The reconstruction was apparently financed by a local merchant named ‘Barreto’ who was saved from bankruptcy through the intercession of Our Lady of the Rosary.

This merchant, according to folktale, while passing through the main road running in front of the church, received the message that he would lose a substantial amount of money in his business. As soon as he received this message, he entered the church and prayed to Our Lady of Rosary, requesting Her to relieve him from this catastrophe. He promised to reconstruct the original church on a larger scale, if his prayers were answered.

The merchant not only recovered what he had lost, but realized double the amount. He then financed the entire reconstruction of the church and also renewed the statue of our Lady of Rosary.

Information on further construction of Navelim church, if any, are not known.

The church is believed to have been built on the ruins of a Hindu temple, and as a result it was attacked on two occasions in 1717 and1739 by Maratha ruler Vyakatra Ghorpade.

Dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Rosary, the church was known as ‘Igreja De Nossa Senhora Do Rosario’, in Portuguese. Today it is the most populated parish in the Archdiocese of Goa.

Feast History

Our Lady of Rosary Feast in Navelim is celebrated on the 3rd Wednesday of November. Elsewhere in the world, the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary is celebrated on October 7.

The devotion of Our Lady comprises an extensive celebration which traditionally begins with a procession from Telaulim Church followed by 9 days of novenas.

The inside of the church is beautifully decorated and the outside is covered with fairy lights during the festive days. Most of the houses and streets in the village are also lit up with colorful lights during the celebrations.

The traditional Navelim procession

Every year ten days prior to the feast, Telaulim, a little hamlet of Navelim on the banks of river Sal stands agog with excitement, as it prepares for a colorful candle light early morning procession attended by thousands of devotees.

The procession commences surprisingly in the early morning at 3.30 a.m. and wends its way to the Navelim church along with the image of Our Lady of Fatima beautifully adorned with flowers.

This procession has an age old tradition. The origin of the procession, which has gained immense popularity due to the blessings of Mother Mary, lies in the fact that the original inhabitants of Telaulim (Gaonkars of the place) used to leave for Western Ghats on the eve of the novena of its village patroness - Our Lady of Rosary - to fetch merchandise mainly cattle for the three-day fair (known as the ‘Boilanchem Fest’ in its heydays) which is a massive affair in the whole of Salcete.

The procession originally gained importance half a century ago during the tenure of Telaulim chaplain Padre Camilo Coutinho. The sick, aged and expectant mothers foot out the 3 km stretch in thousands in fulfillment of their vows having obtained many miraculous favors from the blessed mother.

Initially it was the Telaulim chapel’s patron Our Lady of Mount Carmel’s image that was carried in procession to Navelim church for safe keeping due to fear of invasions as men folk of the village left for the Western Chats. As time passed this image was substituted by the image of Our Lady of Fatima donated by Mr. Jose Roque Caetano Pires through the good offices of the Regedor of Telaulim, Jose Minguel Pires de Menezes, a philanthropist.

Our Lady of Rosary church originally comprised of Margao’s Grace church, Aquem church (earlier known as Pandava Copel), Dicarpale church and St Jose de Areal Church.

Nossa Senhora do Rosario

Our Lady of the Rosary is a title of the Virgin Mary related to the prayer of the Rosary. The origin has been attributed to an apparition of Our Lady to St Dominic in 1208 in the church Prouille, south of France.

Our Lady of the Rosary is the patron saint of several places around the world.

The feast of Our Lady of the Rosary invites everyone to contemplate and meditate often on the holy mysteries of Joy, Sorrow and Glory of Jesus’ life. Praying to Mother Mary with the rosary helps to put Jesus Christ in the centre of our lives. 

The rosary contains within itself the healing power of the Most Holy Name of Jesus that invokes faith and love as we say each Hail Mary.

The 15 decades of the Rosary total 150 beads. In the middle ages some monasteries prayed each of the Psalms prefaced with a brief meditation. These meditations may have formed the basis for the mysteries we have today.

Miracles of Our Lady of Rosary

Devotion of Our Lady of Rosary, and carrying the Rosary has protected many people in miraculous ways.

On August 6, 1945 during World War II, an atomic bomb was dropped on the town of Hiroshima, Japan. 140,000 people were killed or injured.

There was a home about 1 kilometer from where the Atomic Bomb went off. This home had a church attached to it which was completely destroyed, but the home survived, and so did the eight German Jesuit missionaries who prayed the rosary in that house faithfully every day.

Not only did they all survive with minor injuries, but they all lived well past that awful day with no radiation sickness, no loss of hearing, or any other visible long term defects. Naturally, they were interviewed and examined numerous times by scientists about their remarkable experience. They said, “We lived and prayed the rosary daily in that home." 

There are numerous miracles attributed to Our Lady of Rosary, Navelim that includes financial aid, cure from incurable diseases, miraculous transforming experience from heaven, etc. 

Navelim Fair

According to legend, in earliest times, this fair consisted mainly of three or four sheds and lasted only for a day, because there was superstition that on the same night of the feast day, there was a gathering of devils in the area in front of the church.

Dr. Francisco Salvador Gomes, father of Dr. Francisco Luis Gomes, who was the administrator of Salcete, encouraged some of the owners of the sheds to extend the fair for three days.
Today the fair comprises stalls selling toys, food and clothing. There are booths for games, fun fair with merry-go-rounds and giant ferry wheels. In addition, there are furniture stalls and stalls selling animals for farming such as goats, cows and buffaloes.

Adoration of Our Lady of Rosary by Navelkars around the world
Many Navelkars scattered around the world celebrate the feast with great splendor and devotion. Popular among them are:

         Navelim villagers in Kuwait, through the popular sports club Navelim Youth Centre under the leadership of President Agnello A.S Fernandes, celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Rosary on Thursday (being the weekend in Kuwait) following the feast in Goa.

File Photo: Navelim Youth Centre members at the feast celebration in Kuwait - in 2009

Navelim Youth Centre formed in 1987 has been celebrating the feast for over 25 years with a lively get-together and a cultural program. A souvenir is distributed to devotees after a celebratory mass.

         The Union of Navelim, London, UK set up in 1980 celebrates the Feast of Our Lady of Rosary annually on the third Sunday in November. This year proudly marks our 31st Anniversary and we would love for you to come and celebrate this milestone with us. 
 Navelim Union members in Sidney, Australia
 Founder Members - The Union of Navelim – Nairobi 1961 – 1962

For the past 31 years, proceeds raised from the annual celebration have gone to help the villagers of Navelim, Goa. Projects, to name a few, have ranged from helping the local schools with respect to buying books, clothing and supplies, supporting the Old Age Home in Navelim and providing funds for repairs to the main Church in Navelim.

         Union of Navelim, Canada celebrate the feast annually at Ontario. The mission of the Union of Navelim is to serve as a guiding light for future generations by preserving Navelim’s heritage.

Navelim Union members in Canada on a picnic

         There are news of grand celebrations by Navelkars based in Germany, Paris, Muscat, Bahrain, Kenya, USA, etc, and many other nook and corners of the world.

Navelim Village

Navelim is one of the villages in Goa, located just outside the city of Margao, Salcete taluka. The village is second largest in terms of population after the capital city of Panaji.
Navelim is mostly dominated by Catholics as are most of the villages in Salcete. 

Salcete being a part of the annexed territory of the Portuguese in the 16th century, most of the people of the villages in Salcete were mostly converted by the Jesuit missionaries who were on a conversion spree during that time. 

Did you know?

       Our Lady of Rosary Church has 2 towers. The originally built northern tower holds the bell of the church while the other matching tower was built in the 80’s by the then vicar of the church Fr. Robert Vaz.

       According to folklore, the south side of the church is believed to hold no plaster, hence it is not painted on this side.

       Navelim is famous for its political, academic, artistic, sports and spiritual talents. Some of the famous descendants of Navelim are:

-         Dr. Francisco Luis Gomes -  (1829 –1869) was a Portuguese physician, writer, historian, economist, political scientist and MP in the Portuguese parliament. Gomes represented Portuguese India in the Cortes Gerais from 1861 to 1869. His outstanding contributions towards the fields of liberal philosophy and economics led him to be widely hailed as ‘The Prince of Intellectuals’ in Europe.

-         His Eminence the late Valerian Cardinal Gracias, Valerian Cardinal Gracias (originally from Sinquetim), Archbishop of Bombay was the first Indian Prince of the Catholic Church. Valerian Cardinal Gracias (originally from Sinquetim), Archbishop of Bombay was the first Cardinal from India. Gracias was one of the cardinal electors in the 1958 papal conclave and again in the conclave of 1963. He was awarded the prestigious Padma Vibhushan award on January 26, 1966.

       Rosary College of Commerce & Arts, one of the most famous colleges in Goa, was established in 1999. The college was established by the Fabrica of Our Lady of Rosary Church, Navelim. Beside's arts, commerce and science, it also offers other courses like BBA (Bachelor of Business Administration), BCA (Bachelor of Computer Applications), M.Com etc.

       Our Lady of Rosary High School founded in 1962, and Rosary Higher Secondary are pioneering institutions located in front of the church.

        Our Lady of Perpetual High School behind the church is also a premier school in Navelim.

       Festa De Leques, the famous 2nd day Goa carnival dance, one of the oldest dances conducted in Goa, organized by Enfermous Football Club is held in Sinquetim, Navelim for more than half a century. The popular Nite-O-Roses, a feature of the Navelim feast continued for 50 years before it was abandoned in 2006.

       Rosary football ground, Navelim’s premier ground was originally constructed with the financial support of the people of Navelim abroad and living in Navelim.

       Navelim has a number of football clubs registered with Goa Football Association. Popular among them are:
o   Navelim Sporting Club
o   Navelim Villagers Union
o   Enfermous Sports Club
o   United Club of Telaulim
o   Mandopa Sports Club
o   Davorlim Sporting
o   Sirvodem Sports Club, etc

       The Our Lady of Enfermous Sports Club Football ground situated at Sinquetim is one of the best inter-village football grounds in Goa at the moment. Finals of Imperial Cup and other tournaments have been played on this ground.

       Navelim is rapidly expanding to become one of Margao's fastest growing suburban areas. Infact, the Margao railway station, Goa’s central railway station falls in the vicinity of Navelim village.

       Blasco Executive Centre is south Goa’s famous open air wedding hall situated at Mandopa, Navelim. It can easily accommodate over 1000 guests. The wedding hall is built on 15 acres of landscaped gardens. 

       Padre Pio Friary, located at Modi, Navelim, a seminary and chapel is very popular among the people of Goa.

       3 Military Training Regiment (3MTR) of the Indian army is situated at Navelim.

       The awful ruins of the 1.6 km long Sky bus test-track, runs parallel to the  Navelim-Rawanfond road. The Konkan Railway had laid the 1.6-km long test track way back in 1998 at a cost of Rs 50 crore to develop and fine tune the sky bus technology. It was a failure and a disaster. 

       Navelim is one of the largest villages in Goa. Some of the names of Navelim wards are:
-       Aquem Baixo,
-       Belem,
-       Buttica,
-       Caiero Nagar,
-       Calvado,
-       Central Horta,
-       Coldem,
-       Colmorod,
-       Cottocco Moll,
-       Danddo,
-       Davorlim,
-       Dialgona,
-       Dongorim,
-       2nd Dadio,
-       Firgulem,
-       Fradilem,
-       Gantamorod,
-       Mandopa,
-       Modi,
-       Ravora,
-       Ratvaddo,
-       Rawanfond,
-       Santrim,
-       Shantinagar-Firgulem,
-       Sinquetim,
-       Sirvodem,
-       Telaulim, etc.

Navelim Parish

The present Navelim parish is the hub of many an activity of the Navelim village having a full-fledged college, schools, Cardinal Gracias parish centre, football and other sporting events with a music school, multiplex sports complex and a college of nursing in the offing.

There is a high aspiration of the people that Our Lady of Rosary Navelim church be eventually elevated with the blessings of Mother Mary into a full-fledged headquarters of a diocese with a Bishop’s house in South Goa being ideally located and having a vibrant self-sustaining community, situated only 1 km from Margao Konkan Railway Station.

In times to come this church can be a centre of pilgrimage where devotees thronging from far flung places would flock by chartering special trains or buses akin to pilgrimages to Nasik and Vailankani as can be surmised from the immense growing fervent devotion to Our Lady of Rosary at Navelim down the centuries.

May Our Lady of Rosary bless us All.

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