First Milagres Church (1680-1784)
Due to its substantial Roman Catholic population, Mangalore 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. Bishop de Castro had arrived in Mangalore in 1677, and received a piece of land as a gift from the Keladi Queen Chennamma. 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.
Post 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 King Somashekara II. His nephew Fr. Alfred Pinto built a new church at the site of the present church in 1756. In 1763, Canara was under the rule of Hyder Ali and then his son Tipu Sultan in 1782. Tipu Sultan believed that the local Christians had conspired against him with the British during the Second Anglo-Mysore War. He captured about 60,000 Mangalorean Catholics on Ash Wednesday 24 February 1784, and herded them to Seringapatam. He also destroyed 27 churches including the Milagres Church.
Present Structure of 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 returned to Mangalore. Lawrence Bello was among the returnees who built a chapel to replace the demolished church, on the site of the present church. In 1811 he laid the foundation stone for a new spacious church. In 1911, the facade of the church collapsed, thereafter which then incumbent Parish priest Fr. Frank Pereira erected the present church structure with Fr. Diamanti S.J. as architect. Later on a portico was added to the structure.