WHY THE CHURCH OF SIOLIM WAS DEDICATED TO SAINT ANTHONY?
“Because of the First Miracle of St. Anthony in Siolim”.
In the year 1600 Franciscan Fathers thought of building a new church much bigger, solid and central for all Christians of that locality. While collecting subscriptions and donations for the necessary fund for their idea, they experienced difficulty to attain their target.
At that time two Portuguese merchants who were sailing from Portugal were bringing with them a statue of
St. Anthony. They were caught by a storm in the Arabian Sea, but by miraculously their ship entered the harbor of Chapora (Caisua or Vagator). With fear they had vowed to the miraculous Saint that they would work to build a church on the spot in his honour if by his intervention they landed safely. When they entered the port, they went through the left side of the river Chapora with the miraculous statue which had saved their lives. On entering the small river (Fonduem or Fonde Poim) they came to a beautiful spot on the extreme West of Marna Village, on the left bank of this small river. They entered in a Christian village where they met the Franciscan Fathers who were moving there for collection of funds for the new Church and unexpectedly they got valuable help of the Portuguese Merchants who were very rich and wanted to fulfill the vow that they had made. With their assistance and also with the help of the Communidades of Marna and Siolim a big Church build in the year 1630 in praise of the Miraculous St. Anthony.
For this reason the Patron of Siolim Church became St. Anthony instead of Mae de Deus. It is recorded that this statue may have been brought for the Church of St. Anthony which was built at that time in Old Goa.
The statue of St. Anthony which is on the main altar of our Church is the same Miraculous Statue which had saved the lives of two Portuguese merchants who were caught in a storm in the Arabian Sea whilst sailing from Portugal and were carrying with them this statue.
THE SECOND MIRACLE OF SAINT ANTHONY
Do you know why Saint Anthony of Siolim has in his right hand a serpent tied with a cord?
The second miracle of St. Antony in Siolim in the year 1600, which Fr. Fernando Soledade wrote in the book called “Historia Serafica” pgs 503 & 902 published in the year 1705.
Our present Church is very ornate, big and beautiful in the exterior and the interior also. When tourists and foreigners come and see the church , when they look at the statue of St. Anthony on the Frontispiece, with a serpent in his right hand tied to a rope, they become curious and want to know the significance, because they say that nowhere have they seen St. Anthony with a serpent.
While building the church a big cobra of frightful dimensions and a strange form started to harass the workmen employed in the construction and to disturb Fr. Bras dos Anjos, who was the Rector and was directing the construction. This cobra was seen many times crawling on his residential house. Today it is the Parochial house.
When the Capela-Mor of the church was half built, the statue of the Saint was put into a big niche opened in the wall at the farther end, and from that time it remained to overlook and to protect the work.
The Priests who were desperate with the menace of the terrible cobra, and their futile effort to kill it, resolved to abandon the work and to choose another place far away from this. It is recorded that this cobra or serpent was like a Basilisk Dragon which had the power to kill the men with his breath and sight.
But before they took a definite decision to abandon the place, they inspired by providence, prayed with ardent confidence to the Saint to solve their problem. To their great astonishment, the next day early in the morning they found that the Holy Statue was encircled by the same cobra, but dead.
The cobra having been eliminated, work progressed on the big church which was designed in Corinthian style and had three wings, the only church of its kind in Bardez. To commemorate this miracle, a picture was painted of
St. Anthony holding a serpent tied with a cord in his right hand and a Cross in his left hand.
The statue of St. Anthony, which is in a niche on the Frontispiece of the church has a wooden serpent tied with cord in his right hand. The statue on the main altar also has a serpent of silver tied with a silver chain. Also on the big bell which was cast in Germany and is on the right side Tower of the church there is engraved their image of
St. Anthony holding a serpent tied with a code.
ST. ANTHONY FROM THE ALTAR
The Church has Five Altars.
1st – The Main Altar in the Capela Mor is very big, beautiful and artistically engraved on the Teak Wood and painted with golden border. St. Anthony is in the middle and to his right St.Joseph, to his left St. Francis Xavier.In the middle of the altar is Jesus “The Redemptor”.
2nd – Altar on the right side.
The Altar is dedicated to Our Lady Guia, above her image is the statue of St. Francis of Assisi, Below on his right is Our Lady Carmel, and left St.Peter and below his St. Joseph Vaz Patron saint of Goa.
3rd – Altar on the left side
St. Sebastian is in the middle; to his right is St. Anne, left St. Aloysius Gonzaga and above St.Theresa.
4th – The Altar is dedicated to Sacred Heart of Jesus is on the right Sacred Heart of Mary is on the left and above Our Lady of Dolour.
Summon were Preached from this Pulpit in yester years
5th – Altar of Our Lady of Safe Delivery is on the left side near the door and opposite of the Baptismal Fountain (Pia Baptismal)
During the Jubliee all the tradition paintings of St. Anthony, which were below the choir, were transferred to the corridors between the Sacristy and the Chancel.
STATUES FOR VENERATION
(Our Lady of Guia)
There is a statue of St. Anthony in a glass case on the left side and on his opposite of Our Lady of Guia also in a glass case.
There are also statues of Scared Heart of Jesus and Mary, St. Sebastian and St. John the Baptist.
Above the door of the pulpit there is a framed image of St. Augustine, craved on a wooden plank. It was transferred from the pulpit of the Old Church.
The picture of Our Lady of Perpetual Help (Perpetuo Soccoro) was offered by Rev. Fr. Antonio Jose dos Martires in the year 1960.
MONUMENT TO CHRIST THE KING
In front of the main door of the church there is a Monument to Christ the King which was blessed on 31st December, 1931 and was erected for the commemoration of the 7th Death Centenary of St. Anthony in Lisbon. It has four pillars, two huge and two supporters, with three arches. The pillars support the terrace and on the terrace the statue is mounted on a pedestal.
The statue is of marble brought from Italy and the cost was Rs. 1230.
The cross on the frontispicio of our church, built in 1907, originally was of stone. In 1949, after 42 years, it cracked, broke and fell down. It was redone in cement concrete along with the pillars that were also of stones. After 15 years this cross of cement also cracked and was removed in 1964 and replaced with a wooden cross. This wooden cross was there 37 years but in 2001. It also cracked and replaced with another, also of wood on 10th March, 2001.
This cross is made of Burma Teak. The present cross is 7 feet high, 3 feet and 8 inches broad and 1 square foot thick.
Before completing a hundred years our church has renewed the Cross four times. Below the cross is a monograma of Ave-Maria (A.M.) to commemorate the first church dedicated to Mother of God “Mae De Deus”.
And below the monograma there is a niche covered with solid glass, a big wooden stone statue of St. Anthony, with on a book in his right hand Infant Jesus and the serpent in a snare of a cord, and in the left hand the Cross.
Every year, three principal feasts are celebrated in the Siolim Church.
Feast of St. Anthony, Patron of the Church, is celebrated on Sunday after 13th of the month of June, before the feast there are “Trezenas” or 13 days Masses for the preparations on the feast. There is a fair on the Feast Day.
Feast of Our Lady of Guide “Nossa Senhora de Guia” is celebrated on Sunday after Christmas. Before the Feast there are Novenas or 9 – day Masses for the preparation of the Feast. During the Novenas there are Salves.