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8th day, ’Infant Mary Novena’ Sept 6, St Francis Xavier parish, Bejai Mangaluru

Mangalore Today News Network

Mangaluru, Sep 7,2016: At this well known parish of Mangaluru proper which covers several areas of central Mangaluru, the 8th day of the Novena Sept 6, Tuesday was marked with fervor and observed to recall the value and wisdom that elders in the family bring to younger people and specially children day to day.

Xavier parish, Bijey M’luru 1

Xavier parish, Bijey M’luru 1

Xavier parish, Bijey M’luru 1

Xavier parish, Bijey M’luru 1

Xavier parish, Bijey M’luru 1

Xavier parish, Bijey M’luru 1


Following the evening mass, the flower offering ceremony in which a large number of children actively participated in front of the church before the grotto of Mother Mary.The homily given by Rev Robert D’Souza specially addressed children and he impressed upon them the importance of respecting, valuing and appreciating grand parents and old people though they might be peculiar and slow; it is their hard work that has helped parents and the country now to shine forth and give the best to children. This parish was established in 1912 and celebrated it’s centenary in 2012 which was a memorable occasion. The convents, schools and institutions attached to Bijey are historical and reputed today.  Take a look of brief details of this parish.

Bijey Church,brief history :

Bejai and all other parishes of greater Mangalore  were once a part of the mother parish of  Rosario Church established in the  sixteenth Century. The long distances from the church and the difficulties experienced caused a land to be obtained from the government for a cemetery and a chapel too was set up here.

Visiting priests from Rosario and so on offered Sunday masses here.  St Francis Xavier Church, Bejai established in the year 1912 and  is surrounded by Bendore, Bondel, Milagres and Derebail parishes.  On March 22, 1912 Bishop Perini, S.J., gave Bejai a resident chaplain -Fr Sebastian Noronha. The site of the present church was given by a influential Catholic, Munsiff Joseph Lobo Prabhu. Munsiff Joseph’s father the donor of the land for St Aloysius College and his four sons donated the bells of the present Bijey church. Later, Fr Joseph Peter Fernandes built a portion of the presbytery. The present church was built in 1924 by Fr A. E. Colaco who had succeeded Fr Fernandes. Fr Leo Saldanha completed the presbytery and belfry  in 1937. Fr Robert L. M. Pinto renovated the church and progressively developed it.  This centenary - 100 years marks the establishment of Parish which does not signify the buildings, but the people the parishioners who are paramount in a church. The St Francis Xavier School for boys and Lourdes girls school started in the year 1915. A great number of boys and girls from Bejai and surrounding areas studied here and  remember with gratitude the dedicated teachers who taught them and many have pursued higher studies and are shining in different fields and banks, government services and are working abroad. In 1963, due to the efforts of very Rev. Mgr. F. J. M. Pinto , a girls high school was opened by the Ursuline Franciscan sisters of Mnagalore.

Development : In 1998 Fr. Bernard D’Souza ventured into giving students education in CBSE syllabus to prepare them for competitive exams and also opportunity. He started English Medium classes in Kindergarten and 1st Std in the year 1999 and Lourdes Central School came into being which now a premier school in the city.  He also put up commercial complex and also the Hall for  income generation to the church.The vision of Fr Joseph Peter Tauro consolidated these into a more modern base. Science stream PCM computer and PCM biology classes commenced on 16.06.2008 and this School grows into a Senior Secondary Institution and keeps expanding with  commerce stream and so on. The new spacious Presbytery was inaugurated on 3rd December, 2006 on the feast of St Francis Xavier.

The parish has 24 wards, 1230 families and more than 5000 parishioners. The church strives to persevere as a vibrant Christian community it is noted for the large number of vocations, cultural and other social events and activities with it’s gifted and enthusiastic youth.

St. Francis Xavier, ( 1506 –  1552) was a pioneering Roman Catholic missionary born in  Spain and co-founder of the Society of Jesus. (S J). and one of the first seven Jesuits,  He led a mission into Asia, mainly in the Portuguese Empire of the time. He was influential in the spreading and upkeep of Catholicism in India, but also ventured into Japan, Borneo, the Moluccas, and other areas which had thus far not been visited by Christian missionaries. He moved all over South India and is well known. He died on a voyage  to China his incorrupt body was brought to Goa and is still seen in the Basilica of Bom Jesus in Old Goa.

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!  

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.