11 The Fatima Statue at Karjat Shrine - Fr Calistus Fernandes

posted Oct 5, 2017, 10:30 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Oct 5, 2017, 10:31 AM ]
Being the Centenary year of the Fatima Apparitions, pilgrims flock in large number to this remote place at Karjat. One of the attractions of this Shrine is the beautiful Statue of Our Lady of Fatima brought from Portugal in the year 1920, just three years after Our Lady's apparition to Jacintha, Lucia and Francisco. This year, there has been a continual flow of devotees trying to get close to the Madonna of the East. Devotees both from the host diocese of Mumbai and various neighboring dioceses - Nashik, Pune, Vasai, Kalyan etc. gather to show their Marian devotion and join in praying for peace.

The history of the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima at Karjat dates back to the beginning of the 19th century. At that time, the Holy Cross Church at Matheran (which is a hill station a few miles away from Karjat) was spiritually nurtured by the priests from Goa-Daman, then under the Portuguese rule. Though one may not have a clear picture of the arrival of this statue, it is said that with the already existing Portuguese influence, the statue of Our Lady of Fatima must have been brought as a gift by the Portuguese, most probably to be taken to Matheran. On March 5, 1915, a small piece land next to Karjat railway station was purchased for Rs 175/- by Fr Anicieto Pereira, the then Parish Priest of Holy Cross Church, Matheran on behalf of the Bishop of Daman for the Roman Catholic Mission, Karjat. The Holy Eucharist was celebrated occasionally by the locals and those working at the railway site, building the three hub stations - Thane, Karjat and Khandala - at the station master's office. The statue brought from Portugal was placed at the station master's office remained stationed for 15 long years. For the faithful, the statue was one more image of Mother Mary to show reverence, since not much was known about the apparition. Simultaneously, the news of the Fatima apparition was spreading slowly. It was only in the year 1930 that the Catholic Church proclaimed the supernatural character of the apparitions as worthy of praise. This news filled the faithful at Karjat with joy and they thought of building a small house for the statue. Soon the work began, and in the year 1935, His Grace Archbishop Joaquim Lima blessed the Chapel on December 17, with the carved statue of Our Lady of Fatima, making it the first ever Shrine in India dedicated to Our Lady of Fatima.