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Mary Immaculate Conception Church, Panjim
The church was one of the first to be built in Goa, certainly being there by 1541.
The early church was completely re-built from its foundations in 1619 and this was even considered, taking accountof the still negligible population of the area and the size of the new church, is a striking commentary on the religious climate of the time and the wealth available to the churches.
The interior of the church is relatively simple by the standards of the time although the backdrop to the main altar, dedicated to Mary Immaculate, is impressive enough.However, it is the two flanking altars that catch the eye that on the left dedicated to Jesus Crucified and that on the right to Our Lady of the Rosary.
Each is a riot of heavily gilded, deeply carved ornamentation, yet compact and controlled, a fine example of the period. At the side of each is a marble statue, one of St Peter and one of St Paul.
To reach the Church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception Panjim, one has to climb 100 steps arranged in a majestic fashion, for the Church sits majestically atop a hillock dominating the heart of the city and offering a bird?s eye view of the main square.
Though it existed as a chapel before 1541, the whole structure was rebuilt from its foundation in 1619 and the artistic staircase was added to it in 1870. The huge bell on the belfry once belonged to the Monastery of St. Augustine, Old Goa, and is second in size only to the Golden Bell of the Se Cathedral at Old Goa. It has an inscription and weighs about 2,250 kilograms.
Complete with tiny electric bulbs, the entire Church is lit up in the eeriness of the night The locals celebrate the Feast of Our Lady Of Fatima which is usually celebrated at the end of May(acc. to the Church calendar). The reason being that a beautiful image of Our Lady Of Fatima is placed on the altars of the Church. The feast of The Immaculate Conception is celebrated every year in Margao and Panjim on 8th Dec. In Panjim there is a 3 day fete where people from all walks of life come to witness the sheer splendor of the Church and also to dabble in a few pricey bargains in the stalls. These stalls sell tiny miniatures, souvenirs, handicrafts, garments, sweets (called hajem by the locals), food and drink.If you look high enough at the top of the Church you will be able to see the Church bell which is said to be the 2nd largest in the world.
On the 8th of December, the feast of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception is celebrated at the Church in great pomp and religious fervor. The church is artfully lit at night and a lively fair occupies the entire church square.
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