Mangalore:Sparkling on the banks of river Netravathi and surrounded by the greenery of coconut and arecanut gardens, rests a hill of holiness which invites the Catholic fraternity to its midst. Dedicated to the Blessed Mary of the mountains as an abode of peace to the distressed and recuperation to the hardworking, it is a place where Monthi Feast celebrations were started in the coastal belt. Yes it is the Monte Mariano chapel in Farangipet, Mangalore.
Farangipet – a historical abode of Capuchin Friars
In 1510, the Portuguese touched the shores of Goa and expanded their power on the coastal regions of India thereafter. With the arrival of the Portuguese, Franciscan, Jesuit and other missionaries came to India with the dual purpose of ministering the Portuguese establishments and to proclaim the gospel to the people of other faith. In this process, after 1526, the Franciscan priest reached Canara coast and built three churches namely Our Lady of Rosary Church - Rosario Cathedral, Our Lady of Mercies Church – Panir (Ullal) and St. Francis of Assisi Church, Farangipet (Farangi means European and Pete means market/small town).
In 1763 Hyder Ali conquered the Bidanur kingdom. Before the war on the request of his close aids, Hyder Ali had visited Farangipet church, lit candles at the feet of Mother Mary and requested Fr. Joachim Miranda, the then pastor of the church to pray for his victory. Later after some years Tippu Sultan started to destroy the churches in Canara Coast. His soldiers marched on to Farangipet to pull down the Church, but Fr. Joachim showed him the document that assured protection issued by his father Hyder Ali, which made him order the soldiers to retreat without harming the church. However he did not change his resolve to deport the Christians from Canara to Srirangapatna. The miraculous statue of Blessed Mary was late shifted to the entrance of the convent in 1945.
At the feet of this Statue of Mother Mary Hyder Ali and his soldiers were lighting candles
Origin of Monthi Feast
Tradition has it that Monthi Feast; the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary was first solemnly celebrated at Monte Mariano (Mount of Mary) convent in the Canara coastal region. In 1773, Fr Joachim Miranda initiated the devotion to Mother Mary. Monthi Feast was then elaborately celebrated at Monte Mariano for many years and as years passed devotees from neighbouring parishes, tile factory owners and coffee planters made it on foot from faraway places to join the celebrations. Fr. Joachim deemed it quite fitting to keep the Monthi Fest on September 8th, as it was the feast of Nativity of Blessed Virgin Mary. Another Reason to keep the celebrations on this day was that around this time the Hindu brethren kept Ganesh festival that lasted for 9 days during which they ate only vegetarian food. Bearing this mind Fr. Joachim also introduced the 9 days’ novena in preparation of the Monthi Feast. New paddy sheaves were blessed on the feast day and taken home symbolically consuming vegetarian meal with the family members.
Inauguration of first ever Shrine of Monthi Saibeen
Monte Mariano convent in Farangipet has surely been an inspiration to the Christians in enhancing our devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Due to the reverence and spiritual attachment the faithful had to this place, it has now become an undeclared ‘shrine’ to the frequent devotees of the Dioceses of Mangalore and Udupi. Now to mark the origin of Monthi Feast in Canara coast, under the leadership of Rev. Fr Gerald Lobo OFM Cap., the superior of the convent, this historic place will have a Shrine dedicated to the Infant Mary and will be the first of its kind in the world. On 2nd September 2018, Very Rev. Peter Cyprian Dsouza OFM, Cap., the Provincial Councillor of Karnataka Capuchin Province will inaugurate this shrine and the Apostolic Administrator of Mangalore Diocese Most Rev. Aloysius Paul Dsouza will bless this Shrine.
Rev. Fr Gerald Lobo OFM Cap.
From time and now, the Capuchin Friars as per their motto ‘Peace and Good’ are endeavoured to spread peace and goodness to the devotees and visitors of the Monte Mariano convent. May this shrine dedicated to Monthi Saibeen (Infant Mary) be an oasis of peace, fountain of love, a wellspring of prayer and a reservoir of blessings to all the people of God.