Bhayandar : Thousands of devotees are expected to converge to celebrate 400 years of existence of -Our Lady of Bethlehem Church in Dongri village near Bhayandar to offer their reverence to Belen Mauli on January 20. Mumbai Archbishop- Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Bishop Bosco Penha, Father Victor Dalmet, legislator Gilbert Mendonca and Mayor Catlin Perira, will attend the elaborately planned celebrations.
Nestled in the lap of nature and surrounded by magnificent hills, this 400-year-old church, has on it engraved the year 1613 indicating it was either constructed in that year or a major renovation had been carried out during this period. A single glance at the gold-plated wooden statue of Mother Mary with child Jesus, placed on the beautiful altar, simply stands out on its grandeur and even a glance is a feast for the eye, both natural and that of faith.
On the uphills, behind the church lies the remains of historic Jesuit Hermitage and the Ermitri Church- built on the hill-top in the 15th century. During the war to conquest the Vasai Fort, this church was amongst one of the structures which was left destructed in the 17th century. When the statue of Our Lady of Fatima was being taken around the world and had reached the ruined Hermitage in the year 1950, devotion was invoked leading to renovation of the church, which since then witnesses the annual Our Lady of Fatima, feast celebrated on the hills in October.
Expressing gratitude to Rev Fr Simon Borges for his dedicated efforts in unraveling the historic facts of the church and the Hermitage, committee member, Haryl Borges, says, “The entire community is geared up to devotedly celebrate the four hundred years of the existence of this holy church which bears profound religious and historic importance.”
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