(Last Updated on : 11-06-2011)
The Church of Mary Immaculate Conception is one of the most famous churches of Goa
. The church is said to have been in existence since 1541 and is considered one of the oldest churches in Goa. In the year 1619 the church was rebuilt. After Panjim became the capital of Goa, in 1841the great bell of the Church of Our Lady of Grace in Old Goa also called the Bell of the Inquisition was moved to this church from Aguada. This bell, which has been placed in the church of Mary Immaculate Conception, bears the reputation of being the world's second largest bell.
The Church of Mary Immaculate Conception has been magnificently designed and looks stunningly beautiful. The decoration inside the church is relatively simple. The main altar is dedicated to Mary Immaculate. There are other two heavily gilded and carved alters that are dedicated to Jesus Crucified and to Our Lady of the Rosary lying on either side of the main one. There are two marble statues of St Paul and one of St Peter at the side of each altar. There is the chapel of St. Francis Xavier located at the south of the main altar. A statue of the saint has been kept in a glass case. This statue was initially situated in the Idalcao Palace but was later moved in the church of Mary Immaculate Conception in 1918 when the chapel there was demolished.
The Church of Mary Immaculate looks absolutely dazzling after sunset as after dusk the church is lit up with numerous light bulbs. The lit up church against the backdrop of the night sky gives it a magnificent look. Large number of tourists pay visit to the Mary Immaculate Conception Church to worship and receive the blessings of the Lord. Tourists also visit the church during the feast days. The local people celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima at the end of May (according to the Church calendar) with much pomp and gaiety. The Feast of the Immaculate Conception is celebrated every year in Margao and Panaji
on 8th December. In Panjim a three day fete to celebrated on this occasion. During the festival many stalls are set up which sell garments, souvenirs, miniatures, handicrafts, sweets (called hajem by the locals), food and drink. This occasion also attracts a lot of tourists to the church.