Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Jesuit And The Infant Fama Of Menino Jesuse

The famous Fama of Menino Jesuse.

In the 17th century Jesuit missionary Fr Bento Ferreira found the statue off the coast of Mozambique following a shipwreck. Shortly later, he was appointed the vicar of the Colva church and he carried the statue with him.
When it began to radiate light, he placed it on the altar for parishioners to revere and news of the statue's miraculous powers soon spread. Parishioners of the church comprising the villages of Colva, Sernabatim, Gaundalim and Velim, contributed to building the statue a separate altar. It was also revered with gold and jewels. However, following the Jesuits being banned by the queen of Portugal, the statue was taken to the Rachol seminary and continues to be there.
The parishoners meanwhile, raised enough funds to create a new statue of the Infant Jesus which is revered till date. Legend has it that a diamond ring from the original statue fell on the altar that holds the new statue and the miraculous powers were transferred, Margao-based Nick Colaco, well versed with the fama legend, explains.

It is for these miraculous powers that thousands of devotees of all faiths continue to flock to the fama. "Devotees come seeking blessings for marriage, to have children, to cure ailments... the list is endless," says parishioner Claudio Fernandes. A huge box overflowing with offerings, mostly wax impressions of human shapes and body parts, stands testimony.

As the serpentine queue inches forward, the statue is brought out of the crypt on the altar in a solemn procession around the church before it is cleaned and kept for public veneration (umo) that will end a little before midnight.

Recalling the fama of yore, Lanfredo Da Costa, a medical practitioner and a senior Colvakar says,
"In those days, the compound walls of homes in the village were white-washed, cleaned and food provisions, especially pork, were stocked to cater to the numerous guests who would make it to the village to participate in the fama and stay for the entire time till the feast."
While the fama was formerly celebrated by a villager every year, today's rising costs have left no takers for this custom, he says. "It is now celebrated by the parish and the proceeds go into the Infant Jesus treasury which has a separate confraria (church body) headed by the parish priest. The money is used for church repairs, etc."

At the fama, the erection of the maadi (pole) for holding the cradle is an important aspect while another is the wrist cord called the bentim that is tied by all devotees after seeking the infant's blessings.

Link (here) to the full article.

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