Mangaluru, Sep 6,2016: Cascia parish is in the South of the city, the Nethravathi river is its boundary. A very large gathering marked the day, Ganesh Chawthi holiday seemed to have contributed to a relaxed and enthusiastic crowd here on Sept 5, Monday. St. Rita is known the world over as the ’St of the Impossible’ who is gifted with grace to make the impossible things possible for those who approach her in faith. Many historical places like Morgan’s Gate, Tile factories, etc are situated here. Take a look at the brief history of this area.
Brief sketch of Cascia Parish:
The ancient historical ’Mangaladevi’ temple from which ’Mangaluru’ gets it’s name is not far off. ’Cascia’ gets its name from ’St Rita of Cascia’! Until year 1680, the present Mangalore, was a single catholic parish; the Rosario Cathedral there after it started splitting. Year 1935 saw the shaping of three new church parishes in Mangalore - Cascia, Valencia and Angelore.
Cascia church is said to be the brain-child of a well-known local priest of the area, Rev. Msgr F.X.Fernandes in 1934. He laboured in Cascia for over 30 years; and is credited with the title of ’Founder’. He is also credited with establishing St.John’s and Cascia schools here, and latter a St.Rita’s School. The area catered to working class people to start with, has grown into flourishing modernisation. More non-Christians here have received quality education and a good future.
This church has celebrated it’s 75th Jubilee in 2010, many illustrious priests of the Mangalore Diocese have served and left their mark by building school facilities and expansions over the years. The present Bishop of Mangalore, Rev Dr Aloysius Paul D’Souza served as parish priest for seven years, between 1988 and 1995.
The church hall too is a new concept; people of the area say the fame and the warmth of St. Rita is behind this entire happening. The parish priests along with the elected parish council and committees have taken courageous initiatives.
The ’Monthi Fest’ Novena: The Novena, a nine day preparation for the feast commences from August 30. Particularly children gather flowers from the surroundings of their homes (or now from the market) and carry them to the church in pretty little baskets or trays.
Then after mass, they gather around the decorated statuette of Infant Mary and shower it with flowers singing a special hymn in Konkani ’Sekked Sangatha Melian’ (Let us all gather together). Weather permitting, in the open yard of the church. Toddlers to grown ups take part actively with joy. It is a thrilling sight to behold, the older folks too enjoy the sight with nostalgic childhood memories! At St. Rita’s the the ceremony was at the side alter. Children were in good number, after honour to the image of Infant Mary in a real wooden cradle, all enjoyed a snack before going home .
The Infant Mary Image : As per legend, the first image appeared in about 1730, a Franciscan Nun, presented it to the Bishop of Como in Italy. On his death it was handed over to the Franciscan Nuns who developed great devotion among people to the ‘Infant Mary’ (now in Mangaluru a church is dedicated down below in Bikarnakatte). Due to Napoleon’s revolution when the monasteries were closed down, one of the nuns carefully saved it and handed it over to the Parish of St.Mark in Milan.
History indicates that in 1842 it was given to the ‘Sisters of Charity’ and installed in the Mother House and was exposed for devotions only on 8 September each year. In 1884 extraordinary happenings and miracles spread wide the devotion to Infant Mary. The first Italian nuns of this order came to assist Fr.Muller in Kankanady Hospital in 1898.
A replica of the image was first brought to Mangalore by the ‘Sisters of Charity’ soon after and can still be seen at the Infant Mary Convent Chapel beside the Jeppu Seminary, which a couple of kilometers to the North of Casia..