Mangaluru, Oct 08, 2018: The Rosario parish celebrated the 450th year feast day celebration on October 7, Sunday, with pomp and devotion. Since the last few days external and spiritual preparations was in full swing. The solemn festival mass was celebrated at 8 am, by the emeritus bishop Rev.Dr. Aloysius Paul D’Souza assisted by Rev. Maxim Noronha the Vicar General of the diocese. The new Bishop Rev.Dr.Peter Paul Saldanha is on a mission in Rome and could not be present. Rev.J B Crasta, Rector, the chief architect of all these celebrations with the priests of the parish concelebrated the mass. Over 2000 parishioners graced the occasion with all devotion and the enthusiasm visibly at a peak.
The main celebrant of the mass, the emeritus bishop in his homily brought out the ethos of the 450 years of Catholicism in the region. He said that the LORD’s gaze fell on the virgin Mary and he decided to make her His mother and be born on earth to save the human kind who had fallen into sin. After accomplishing His mission on earth and just before dying on the cross, He saw his mother in grief and to relive her of the sufferings He made her mother of His followers then and for all future time. 450 years ago the church arrived through the Portuguese with Konkani Catholics from Goa at Bolar. These Goans had a great attachment to Mother Mary and they brought the devotion to Mangalore, and today it has spread allover the region. This was made possible by the folklore in ancient Konkani by word of mouth by reciting ’Gumtam Podam’, using a pot to give a beat and timing. Reciting 15 decades of the Rosary, brings into sight the summery of the Lord’s life. The family is the basic cradle of all good in society and must have the fear of God at all times.
After the mass there was a general fellowship with all present and the festive arrangements brought out the human concern and care from all present. In the evening at the cultural hall, there were children and adult competitions which were very professional and even the judging was by experienced professionals in the field. A special humorous play in Konkani - ’Sorr Sargaar’ (Thief in Heaven) by artists of the Parish which thrilled the huge gathering present. The Rosario Youth Movement (RYM) was instrumental in organizing this memorable evening enjoyed by many. Indeed the occasion helped to foster a better bonding and recognition among the parish members.
Recap on the Historicity of Rosario Cathedral :
In 1569, the Dominican Pope Pius V, officially established the devotion to the rosary in the Catholic Church. Co-incidentally it was, just a year before, in 1568 that the Catholic Church, was established in Mangaluru.....a forerunner of the Rosario Cathedral seen now here.
According to history, passed on from our forefathers’ the foundation stone of the Portuguese fort was laid on 20 January 1568 at Bolar on the banks of Nethravati; not far from Mangaladevi Temple from which the name ’Mangaluru’ was derived, the palace of the ’Bangher’ king extended labour and material for its construction. The garrison consisted of 200 men; The then Portuguese fort was called ’Sao Sabastiao’(St.Sebastian).
Beyond the fort was a settlement. A small chapel , ’Nossa Senora de Rosario’, served the garrison. The first ’Rosario’ came to be known as the ’poyada ingreji’ (Tulu) or ’church on the sands’, and also ’factory church’in Portuguese. The memory of the Portuguese fort, however, lives on in the name given to the area ‘Hale Kote,’(old fort) even today. A Portugese Captain’s, 1629 tomb stone found at this spot in 2008, is significant.
The inscription seen above the main entrance pillars and portico reads “1568 – Queen of the Rosary Bless India – 1915”. This may be interpreted : The first ever Rosario church of the area (not necessarily this spot) was established in 1568 and the present visible edifice was dedicated in 1915 AD. Post captivity of the Tipu Sultan era (after 1799), the Rosario Church rose into being at its present location.
A simple but vital church it got it’s first expansion in the year 1813. The church was declared a Cathedral in 1850. The building of the present magnificent edifice to match it’s status, commenced in 1910 when Jesuit Fr. Henry.Buzzoni was the Vicar (second term-1908-22), and its formal dedication was in 1915, while Bishop Paul Perini was the Bishop of Mangalore (1910-28), Jesuit Bro.Divo of Bombay was the architect, construction works continued for a few years even after it’s opening . The complex structure is made up of a series of matching arches - 40 major arches including 12 central arches with over a fifty sub-arches; the side verandah periphery has about 45 smaller arches. From a superficial stand point the overall shape is cruciform usually used for churches. Granite, Latrite, steel, red bricks, lime mortar and mud were the basic building materials in the early part of 1900s. Mangalore tiles and tiling materials in vogue are also used here for the roofing and so on. Wood is widely used in the roofing and the ornamental heavy carved doors are of solid wood - one main door, 8 side doors and a service door. The galleries above the main entrance and side wings were of high utility in past times, the baptistery, pulpit and a spacious sacristy give completeness to this Cathedral. Unfortunately the Bishops throne is not a permanent fixture as it used to be, even though the Cathedral is the seat of the Bishop; since 1857, the Bishops traditionally reside a few miles away at Kodialbail. Most Bishops of Mangalore are buried behind the main alter, in the past many priests and people were buried in other portions of this church.
The dome of this Cathedral is a significantly unique structure resembling a mini St.Peter’s Basilica of the Vatican, heavy metal ribs and minor metal reinforcements, small red bricks and mortar, water proofed with local methods prevailing. In the early 1960s collections were made and the facade was renovated with a front portico. Further in 1992, 95, 2001 and 2011 face-lifts were done to improve the aesthetics and life of the structure. Over the last 2 years the Rector Re .J B Crasta and his able team have given an appreciable face lift to this cathedral. First the roofing was redone afresh with new tiles. The inner wooden ceiling is renewed. The outer walls have been strengthened and water proofed. All exterior surfaces have been scraped cleaned and well covered with protective and decorative paints. The sanctuary area and back drop have been recreated giving it symmetric and pleasant look and atmosphere. The parish members and many generous people have contributed the lakhs of rupees to enable a much needed renovation which does honour to all concerned and glory to God.
In times past when the sky line was more natural the dome of Rosario was very visible to approaching ships out at sea and a welcome land mark of Mangalore. The erection of such a large, stable and beautiful structure even before construction equipment existed is a marvel, most local residents have contributed in various ways specially hard labour. Vicar Stany Goveas (2006-13) arranged to do a great deal of art work in his tenure. This parish is particularly known for the roots here of Apostolic Carmel nuns (AC). Among the first batch of OCD - Carmelites Bl. Mariam Baouardy lived in the present neighbouring St.Ann’s convent from 1870-72, she was canonised in Rome on May 17, 2015. Ursuline Franciscan nuns (UFC), whose founder was the first parish priest of Rosario, German Jesuit Fr.Urban Stein, the first Superior of the UFC Mother Nympha Fernandes was a parishioner of Rosario (1880-1887). The Bethany founder and first parish priest of Bendur now the first Mangalurean officially on the path to sainthood Msgr. R F C Mascarenhas was ordained in Rosario in April 1900. There are several educational institutions around this parish and historicity is worth knowing and preserving.