Margao: Was the Margao church designed and built according to an astronomical calculation? The answer could be derived from the date, March 21 — vernal or spring equinox. At 6.15pm, beams of sunlight entered the three windows on the upper level of the church’s front façade, reports the Times of India, Goa.
While the light beams that entered through the side windows lit up the left and right-side altars bearing the statues of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Sacred Heart of Mary respectively, a beam of sunlight shone through the central oculus window and flowed towards the central altar, illuminating the emblem of a dove in brilliance.
The key to the mystery of the astronomically-influenced design of the church was revealed at this moment. The dove is a symbol of the Holy Spirit in Christianity. The Margao church is dedicated to the Holy Spirit. For almost 3-4 minutes, the spellbinding spectacle was witnessed as the three altars lit up in heavenly light. As one’s eye falls onto the dove, beneath it is a scene depicting Mary and the apostles of Jesus, gathered in a room and marveling at the sight unfolding above them. The entire episode captures the moment of the Pentecost, the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Mary and the apostles, 50 days after Christ rose from the dead.
According to Flynn Remedios, journalist, author and editor, “This natural spectacle of sunlight lighting up the three altars, including light entering the oculus window lighting up the symbol of the Holy Spirit – the Dove, is a technological and astronomical marvel – a living proof that our forefathers did not just build buildings of architectural beauty, but also incorporated secrets based on astronomy and at times and in certain places, secrets based on the wind, the tides, etc., It is a great shame that such ancient astronomical and architectural marvels are not promoted extensively by the Government of Goa, which is more keen on filling its pockets by promoting casino money on the grounds that Goa is depending on the casinos for its survival. If the Goa government had to only properly market and promote such ancient wonders ever present in Goa in a proper way, possibly, Goa would not have to depend so largely on taxes from the casino and alcohol businesses in the State.”
Witnessing the phenomenon was Caetano Noronha, 60, of Margao. “I grew up in Margao and never knew about this until last year,” he told TOI.
Astronomy enthusiast Bhushan Verlekar said that the Margao church was probably designed to help determine the day of the equinox. Verlekar, member of the Association of Friends of Astronomy, Margao chapter, was instrumental in spreading public awareness of the equinox occurrence, along with Margao-based photographer Lynn Barreto Miranda.
“We both witnessed it in March 2016. After photographing and recording it on video, we spread the word through social media. Last year, just two of us witnessed it. This year, the church was packed,” said Barreto Miranda.
And packed it was. The gathering included people from several walks of life including astronomy enthusiasts, physicists, teachers and students.
Fr Nascimento Mascarenhas, 77, who has documented church history in Goa, said, “The construction of the church can be attributed to the wisdom of the Jesuits.”
WITH INPUTS FROM THE TIMES OF INDIA
More about the Margao Church:
According to the Lonely Planet, Margao’s whitewashed main church was first built in 1565, on the site of an important Hindu temple. Before demolition started on the temple, local Hindus managed to rescue the statue of the god Damodara, to whom the building was dedicated. It was secretly moved to a new site in the village of Zambaulim, around 30km southeast, where there is still a large temple today.
However, the new church didn’t last long and was burned to the ground by Muslim raiders the same year it was built. It was soon replaced and a seminary was established, but both were subsequently destroyed, again by Muslim forces, after which the seminary was moved to Rachol, to the northeast.
The present church, built in 1675, remains in use as a parish church and is finely decorated inside. The impressive reredos (ornamental screen) is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, rising from ground level to the high ceiling, made more distinguished by the gilded and carved archway that stands in front of it. The church doors are usually unlocked throughout the day, and access is via the side entrance on the northern side.
Editor’s Note: The Church of the Holy Spirit, or Holy Spirit Church or Margao Church as it is popularly known, is a great INTERNATIONAL TOURIST ATTRACTION.
In stead of promoting casinos and alcohol and drug culture in Goa, the Goa Government (if it really cares) must conduct a technical survey of all such ancient monuments and buildings in Goa. These ancient monuments including temples and churches hold within their hallowed walls, secrets of the ancient past, which the people of today are completely unaware off.
Such a wonder as the natural lighting up of the divine symbols of Christianity by natural sunlight pouring in exactly on the Spring Equinox could have brought in lakhs of international tourists, but the Goa Government has miserably failed in its attempt to promote serious tourism in Goa based on Goa’s rich and ancient heritage – be it the churches or the temples of Goa and the secrets they hold.