Maria de Lourdes Bravo da Costa
Today, October 28, devotees will celebrate the feat of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour at Church of St Christopher, Thivim. The village shot to prominence because of its devotion to Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, started by the late Fr Inocencio Correia, in 1956.
How the Devotion came to be established
In 1951 Fr Correia was virtually on his death bed and as a last resort he prayed to Our Lady: “If you spare me, I promise you that I will propagate your devotion wherever I may be posted.” To fulfil his vow he started the novenas of Our Lady on every Wednesday in 1956. The devotion bloomed and all roads in Bardez led to Thivim every Wednesday.
Catholics and Hindu devotees thronged at the feet of Our Lady to seek favours or to thank her for favours received. I remember going for mass to Thivim as a child. We had to cross the Mandovi River and go to Betim from where we had to take a cab or bus to go to Mapusa. From here we used to proceed to Thivim. It was not an easy journey. Limited transport and early morning services were not convenient. Yet, one found hundreds going to visit Our Lady. This devotion continues till date and people participate in the preparatory novenas and feast at this Church.
History of the Church
According to the Anuario de Arquidiocese de Goa, 1955, compiled by Monsieur Gomes Catao, the majestic church of St Christopher was built in 1623 by the Franciscans with the help of the gauncars and was rebuilt in 1685 after it was torched by the Marathas. The Anuario of 1933 says that it was built in 1627. Expenses were born by gauncars of the Comunidades coming under its jurisdiction – Thivim, Assonora and Sirsaim. The last two now have independent churches. In 1805, the Church of St Clara was established in Assonora and the chapel of Our Lady of Miracles in Sirsaim was upgraded to a church in 1977.
There are five altars in the Thivim Church. The main altar is devoted to the patron St Christopher, another to Our Lady of Livramento, to Jesus Redentor, Sacred Heart of Jesus and Our Lady of Perpetual Succour. The altar of Our Lady of Livramento is ‘privilegiado’, by decree No 960 dated September 15, 1894.
There are old statues of St Michael, St Sebastian and St Thomas which formerly belonged to the Thivim forts. The beautifully carved pulpit was bought from the Dominican College at St Pedro, Old Goa. In 1933 it had a population of 7,320 Catholics and a parochial school to teach the reading catechism and music.
The Marathas had set fire to a section of the church. They had cause to be incensed with the Portuguese whose mischief went to the extent of capturing Maratha soldiers and forcibly converting them. In retaliation, the Marathas once whisked away three priests from the Chapora fort and converted them to Hinduism. This happened around the year 1683.