Welcome to Nerul village. A small village that is bordered by the sea on one side and the well-known village of Reis Magos on the other. Like a lot of Goa’s villages, Nerul too has a rich history. The village was once known as ‘Nellur’ before the Portuguese renamed it to ‘Nerul’. ‘Nellur’ comes from two words, ‘nell’ (rice) and ‘ur’ (village). Nerul is also located close to the beach villages of Sinquerim and Candolim, earning it a name as a popular tourist destination as well. It is here that the well-known Nerul church known as ‘Nossa Senhora dos Remedios’ or Our Lady of Remedies is located. This church is also one of Goa’s oldest churches, having been founded in 1569.
The Nerul church, Our Lady of Remedies
In 1569 the Franciscan missionaries working in parts of North Goa founded the Nerul church and named it Our Lady of Remedios. Since then, the church has drawn several followers and devotees.
As with most historical buildings and locations in Goa, the Nerul church also comes with its own local legend. According to the story, back in the day, the Nerul church was believed to be under serious threat. An attack from the Marathas was imminent but a local priest saved it from destruction. He thwarted the attack by playing a trick on them. He made replicas of cannons out of palm trees and placed them on the porch roof to scare off the warriors. These were accompanied by the loud sounds of the ‘khoznne’ (gunpowder crackers).
A jubilee year for the Nerul church
As the church gets ready to celebrate so many years of existence, the parish priest, Fr Bolmax Pereira says: “It is indeed a great occasion for us to celebrate the 450 years of our church. Despite all the hardships the church stands tall. People here live in harmony and love. Also, there are several people from other faiths coming to the church to seek the blessings of Our Lady of Remedios.”
The exact history of Our Lady of Remedies church is not clear. However, it is believed that the church was founded and run by the Franciscan Order. Now it is under the Archdiocese of Goa and Daman.
A resident of Nerul and retired teacher, Maria Eugene Pinto speaks about how one can find the Franciscan presence in the church: “It is believed that Goa was divided during the olden days and that the Franciscan priests were mostly based in North Goa while the Jesuits worked in the southern part of the state. Another instance that tells us about their presence is through the murals and paintings on the walls of the church. There is a mural on the wall that depicts St Francis of Assisi praying at the cross and also preaching to people. Another painting shows St Francis Xavier preaching the word of God to the people.”
She adds that it is not only the paintings but even the church bell speaks about Franciscan’s presence. “The bell was brought from Cruz Dos Milagres church in Old Goa which was also a church built by the Franciscan priests.”
Read more about the Franciscan presence in the Nerul church here.
Jubilee year celebrations
Today, Our Lady of Remedies church enters its jubilee year. Which means the parishioners have a year’s worth of activities and celebrations planned. This is the Nerul church’s 450th year which will be completed in May 2019.
Youth will be confirmed today in the Church. “Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrão will be attending the function; followed by a welcome address on the occasion of the opening of 450 years. There will be unveiling of the theme –His Grace,” says Fr Bolmax.
The opening of church door by the archbishop will mark the opening of the jubilee year; after which there will be the Confirmation sacrament given to around 43 adolescents, followed by a small get-together and the cutting of the 450 years and the parish priest’s birthday cake.
Fr Bolmax will deliver a keynote speech on the 450-year jubilee and the Archbishop Ferrao will also share his message. Mementos will be presented to former sacristan, Agnelo Fernandes and other dignitaries. The function will culminate with cultural programme and dinner.
Information credit – The Navhind Times