Mount Poinsur (Borivili)
Church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception (Built 1544)
The original name of this church was the Church of Our Lady of Piety. Traditionally the fearless Father Antonio do Porto was the founder of this church in 1544, a decade after Salsette came into the hands of the Portuguese. (Hull 1:10)
By October 1548, Fr. Antonio do Porto and his companion Joao de Goa had made a large number of converts and had founded a devout Hermitage at Mount Poinsur (Meersman 1971:193) quotes a description of the Church of Out Lady of Piety. “On an island opposite Bassein, a league and a half from the river…there is a church of Our Lady where there must be 400 Christians….It is entirely in a rock cliff….It is very large and has four chapels”.
Adjoining the present Church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception are the 18 centuries old Mandpeshwar caves which are inhabited by Hindu Yogis, which the Franciscans took over and converted into a crypt of the church. The caves are now protected archaeological monuments by the Archaeological Survey of India.
In 1549 the Franciscan Fathers had already built a school adjoining the church, the ruins of which will stand as shown in the picture of the church. Then in 1739 came the Maratha invasion and Mount Poinsur (which the East Indian native Christians still call Mandpeshwar) was captured and the priest and Christian villagers had to flee.
In 1888 the old parish church was rebuilt under the guidance of the Dean of Thana, Fr. Joao fernandes. The church only got its own Vicar from 1912 onwards. In 1912 and 1960 the church underwent major repairs and renovations.
Courtesy: East Indian Calendar 2006
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