Sunday, 31 December 2017

St. Michael's - oldest Portuguese Franciscan church in Mumbai!

St. Michael's Mumbai (mahim), Interior commons.wikimedia.org

St. Michael's Mumbai (Mahim) en. wikipedia.org.
 Located at the intersection of L.J. Road and Mahim Causeway, Mahim is an interesting historical  church known  as St. Michael's Church. It was originally built by the Portuguese in 1534 and its original name was San Miguel. It is the oldest Portuguese Franciscan church in Mumbai that was rebuilt a number of times; the last time being in  1973. A fascinating fact about this church is from 1739 to 1761 the church  served as a refuge to the popular icon of the Virgin Mary from Our Lady of the Mount chapel, Bandra. The church has a valuable painting,  an authentic hand painted version of the original icon in Rome that of  the Our Lady of Perpetual Succor  gifted to St. Michaels by the Vatican. In December 2014, the Archbishop of Mumbai unveiled it.

When Marathas seized  Salsette in 1739, Portuguese  pullrd down  our Lady of the Mount chapel in Bandra under British bidding. During this unstable political situation, the image of the Blessed Virgin from the chapel was  safely sheltered in St. Michael's Church till 1761, when it was moved to its present structure in Bandra.

St. Michael's Church that is believed to have been built in 1534 by António do Porto, a church builder of the Franciscan Order, It was maintained by the vicars apostolic until 1853. At this time  struggle broke our between two groups over its control - Bishop Anastasius Hartmann and  the padroado order. The other discontented group who did not want Bishop Hartmann to continue.his hold on the church. Hartmann and his group stayed in the church for 15 long days and had laid siege to the church with enough food and water. Upon the intervention of the civil authorities on the 16th day to open the church for public, Hartmann had to give up his control in favor of padroado order. Earlier  St. Michael's had been  in control of the vicars apostolic for 60 long years.

Perpetual Novena St. Michael, Mahim.Churches in India
Informally known as Mahim Church the church is famous for its Novenas on Wednesdays that is attended by people in  thousands, including people from other faiths. According to Father Hugh Fonseca, around 40-50,000 devotees visit the church every week. This traditional weekly service was introduced in 1948 by Father Edward Placidus Fernandes from Bombay who saw a similar ritual celebrating Our Lady of Perpetual Succour at Belfast, Northern Ireland. Upon his return from Europe,  Fr. Fernandes brought with him a picture touched to the original icon at Rome. The birth day of St. Mary - 8 September 1948 - coincided with a Wednesday that year and Fr. Fernandes as the vicar held the first Novena services.

 The novena prayers to Our Lady of Perpetual Succour are held throughout the day.The belief has been that devotees who attend the Novena services on 9 consecutive days will be blessed with their wishes. The devotee offers the wax figure of his wish. For example, jewelry wax figure, if his wish is jewelry; house wax image, if he wishes  a house.

Nowadays, it is said, 13 services are held every Wednesday, in various languages, including Tamil and Konkani( from 8:30 am to 10:30 pm).

 https://www.mumbai.org.uk/religious-places/st-michaels-church.html