Foundation of Church of Our Lady of Miracles
The Church of Our Lady of Miracles was originally built by the Portuguese in 1594. It was almost destroyed by a fire set by the retreating Portuguese forces in 1961. It was however renovated soon after. Earlier the church was dedicated to St. Jerome but since bit was rebuilt it was re-dedicated to Our Lady of Miracles. The church has been built at the site of a Hindu Temple that was destroyed by the Portuguese rulers. The church is more commonly known as "Milagres Church" by the locals.
Architecture of Church of Our Lady of Miracles
The exterior of the church is in beautiful Portuguese architecture with blonde bricks and tan colored trim. It has an altar which is devoted to Our Lady of Miracles. St. John, the Baptist Statue is present on the right hand side of the altar and St. Jerome statue is present on the left side of the altar. In 1920 grotto to Our Lady of Lourdes is built with large forecourt. The building caught fire in 1961 and a large part of it was destroyed. After its renovation the church was dedicated to Our Lady of Miracles.
Festival at Church of Our Lady of Miracles
The church is known for the 3 days long feast of Our Lady of Miracles that is organized on the 3rd Monday after Easter. The festival is considered as very auspicious and holds great importance for both Hindus and Christians. It is believed that the Hindu festival "Jatra" is linked with the Feast of Our Lady of Miracles. According to some legends, Nossa Senhora de Milagres is the Virgin Mary, a loving mother with a gift for healing the sick. To Hindus, she is Mirabai, the sister of Hindu Goddess Lairai at nearby Shirgao whose Jatra is celebrated in May. During the Milagres festival, people of both faiths bring offerings: garlands of firecracker flowers and candles. In addition, Hindus anoint replicas of Our Lady’s image with coconut oil. In the Jatra fire walkers come to the village of Shirgao and walk on the fire to prove their piety to the Goddess Lairai. Around the same time a fire-walking Jatra celebration honours Mirabai’s sister Lairai at her Hindu temple in nearby Shirgao. The sisters exchange gifts at their respective festivals: Lairai sends a Milagres a pot of oil; Milagres sends Lairai a basket of jasmine.This Hindu festival is also attended by thousands of Christian devotees.
People of Sanguem have a great devotion to Our Lady. Every Friday, praise and worship is conducted in the church. It is believed that in this place several people experience miracles of healing and peace. Inter religious meets and dialogues are often held in the church. On the feast day many devotees flock to venerate the statue of our Lady with garlands and candles.