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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

ST. DIOGO'S CHURCH, GUIRIM/SANGOLDA, Bardez, Goa, India


ST. DIOGO'S CHURCH
Guirim/Sangolda Parish


This church is dedicated to St. Diogo, Patron of Guirim and Sangolda villages, facing true East. This magnificent church was constructed in 1604 A.D. and is the 13th of the 24 Churches erected in the Bardez taluka.

The distinctive features of this church are many. The main altar is dedicated to the patron St. Diogo and on either side is St. Anthony of Padua and St. Francis of Assisi. There are 5 other ornate altars located  in the nave. The altar on the left hand side is dedicated to infant Jesus and on the right is dedicated to Our Lady of Rosary.

There are three bells to this church, two belong to Sangolda and one to Guirim. Three arched doors lead into the church, while a smaller arched door leads to the sacristy. There is also a side entrance on the Guirim side.

There are many stories about this church and the people of the two villages in myth, legend and folklore. Here is one abou the 3 bells. The church is actually shared between 2 villages. Legend has it that soon after the church construction was completed, the elders decided that the villagers who install the bell will claim the rights. One day, when they were working on the church, it was very late, and it was then decided that they sleep it over and start the work on the bells next day. It is believed that the Guirim villagers went home, but the crafty and manipulative Sangolda villagers had ulterior motives! They decided to work through the night and installed 2 of the 3 bells and rang them aloud waking both the villages. Hence Sangolda claims 2 Bells of the church!

Among many other feuds and legends, one particular anecdote comes to mind which is a classic. An old woman from Guirim was on her death-bed, when a young neighbour whispered into her ear: "Ague, Jesu pau munn gue", ('Call out to Jesus") but to everyone's surprise, the dying woman is said to have opened her eyes saying "Jesu amcho nhuim, Jezu tancho, Ruzai Saibinn amchi. Aum Saibinn maim pav munttelim," (Jesus is not ours, Jesus is theirs; Our Lady of the Rosary is ours, so I will say 'Mother Mary come to me') and saying those words she breathed her last.

That explains the left side altar being dedicated to Infant Jesus (Sangolda side - South) while Our Lady of the Rosary is on the right (Guirim side  - North).

In a classic traditional layout of most churches, this church is no different. Typically, attached on the left is the sacristy, the vestry, a garden, surrounded by offices of the Parish, the Vicar's living quarters, kitchen and a well. Located on the right is the side entrance to the church like many other churches in Goa. Also located on the side is the cemetery with the timeless phrase on the arched transom of the doorway that reads in Kokani 'Aiz Maka, Faleam Tuka' (lit.trans: Today for me, tomorrow for You).


Facing the church is the Cross that stands in monumental white-washed glory, surrounded by a compound wall around with access to the church from four sides: from the back, from the Guirim side, from Sangolda side and from the front with steps that lead to the road through the vast fields to the east with a magnificent view of the hills of Sucorro and Porvorim.

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