The Mae de Deus or Mother of God Church is a marvelous structure, with its Gothic spires and pristine white walls. This Church at Saligao, which is situated in the Bardez taluka, was built in 1873. It is amongst the finest in the Gothic style and is attractively illuminated at night.
It houses the miraculous statue of Mae de Deus (Mother of God) which was brought from the ruins of the convent of Mae de Deus at Old Goa.
The church dedicated to the Mother of God or Our Lady came to be built at Bardez in the 19th Century. Its foundation stone was laid on 7th February 1867 and the Saligao Church was inaugurated on November 26, 1873.
It is said that the church was built with stones excavated from three different sites, two of them religious institutions. The black stones came from the ruins of the Mae de Deus convent in Daujim, the second lot of materials came from the Chapel of Our Lady of Victory, which was also close to ruination, while the balance was made up with stones from a nearby quarry.
The church building shows all the hallmarks of the Gothic architectural style, with its walls being supported by massive buttresses, surmounted by elegantly tapering spires. The main portal of the church is almost a full story high with a beautiful domed shape. Above this there is a niche in the façade in which resides a statue of Our Lady.
The interiors of the church are similarly imposing. In addition to the miraculous statue of the Mae de Deus which reposes near the altar, there is an altar stone which was also taken from the convent in Daujim. In addition to the main altar, this church has six sub-altars.
There are six other altars besides the main one. They are dedicated to St. Francis Xavier, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Sacred Heart of Mary, Christ the Redeemer, Our Lady of Assumption and Our Lady of Piety.
Some sources claim that the neighbouring parishes objected to the Saligao church receiving the honour of having the miraculous Mae de Deus statue kept within it. There was even talk of protests and marches, to the dismay of Fr. Camilo Teodorio Rodrigues, the administrator of the church who did not want to give up the statue.
The issue was finally settled by the Government Order passed on the 20th of June, 1865 which was approved by the King of Portugal.
The first Sunday of May is celebrated as the church feast, the feast of Our Lady the Mother of God. The feast day is preceded by a nine day novena, the celebrations and Masses on each day being organized by a different ward of Saligao.