Mangalore: On the Northern banks of river Netravathi very close to NH 75 and just 10 km away from the Mangalore City towards B.C. Road, rests a place of hillock surrounded by the greenery of coconut and arecanut gardens. Dedicated to St Fidelis, here lies a Capuchin Friary popularly known as the Monte Mariano (Mount of Mary) of Farangipet.
Apart from the noteworthy fact of having the origination of the Nativity feast of Blessed Virgin Mary known as Monthi Fest in the coastal belt, this convent is also known for the devotion of St Francis of Assisi ever since the Portuguese brought a unique wooden statue of the saint in the 16th century. Something very rare and special about this statue is that St Francis of Assisi holds a cross in his right hand and the Holy Bible in his left hand. Both Christians and people of other faiths who visit the chapel honour the statue and render thanks to God for the favours received.
Miraculous Statue of St Francis Assisi
The convent of Monte Mariano is always counted among the noteworthy places in the coastal region and with the erection of world’s first Monthi Saibeen (Infant Mary) shrine in September 2018 it has grown into a place of pilgrimage. Ever since the Capuchin Friars who are often regarded as men of prayer, penance and austerity landed in Farangipet, they have played an important role in maintaining peace and harmony in the predominant Muslim and Hindu neighbourhood. People irrespective of the caste and creed, visit the friary, respect the diversity of religions and try to maintain fraternal relationship among them. The centuries old custom of walking all the way from Mangalore to Monte Mariano at the time of Monthi Feast continued, but in the more recent years it got shifted towards the feast of St Francis of Assisi in the month of October. Many devotees of St Francis of Assisi, both young and old, join the Franciscan Tertiaries in the annual penitential procession, if not all the way from Mangalore, at least from a respectable distance to Monte Mariano.
Cradle of formation of the Capuchins
Initially the novitiate of Franciscan Friars was situated at Mussoorie in North India and later was shifted to the Capuchin Friary at Farangipet. Ever since then, this place is laying the foundation to the novitiates and is continuing to be the Cradle of nurturing many young vocations. Through their quiet, unassuming prayer life and pastoral ministries, the friars offer their prayers regularly for the intentions of the faithful especially the sick, the poor and the suffering, enkindling in them a spectre of hope and trust in the divine providence.
Solemnity of St Francis of Assisi – Coventachem Festh
The custom of celebrating the solemnity of St Francis of Assisi goes back to the very inception of the Capuchin Friars at Monte Mariano, the antecedent of which can be traced back to the practice prevalent at the time of Rev. Fr Joachim Miranda, the then pastor of the convent. He was also instrumental in starting the Monthi Festh in the coastal belt. From years together the Thursday after 4th October was considered as the most convenient and auspicious day to celebrate this solemnity of St. Francis Assisi who had received the wounds of Christ Crucified (Stigmata). Thousands of people from all over take part in the festivities and make their votive offerings while participating in the Holy Eucharist. It is very interesting to note that the Coventachem Festh was the precursor to all other parish feasts in the diocese.
The present fraternity of Monte Mariano headed by Rev. Fr Gerald Lobo OFM, heeding to the popular proposal to shift the Coventachem Festh from Thursday to Sunday, readily agreed to do it. By doing so, the fraternity felt that a larger number of people could participate in the feast and fulfill their Sunday obligation as well due to weekend leave for both the working adults and schooling children. This year the Coventachem Festh will be celebrated on Sunday, 7th October 2018 with a high mass at 10.30 am presided over by Very Rev. Dolphy Pais OFM the Capuchin Provincial Minister of Karnataka Province.