Long before the Goa Medical College shifted to Bambolim, the Fulancho Khuris (Cross of flowers) was perhaps the only landmark in the area. Also known as Bambolecho Khuris, Milagrincho Khuris, it earned the name Fulancho Khuris as it is always decked in garlands, placed there by devotees out of gratitude (for answered prayers) or in reverence.
Sometimes called Miraculous Cross, it is situated along NH14 and attracts the attention of passers-by, most of who will stop and pay homage to the cross, before they proceed onwards. Several inter-state buses are also known to make a halt there, while it has become a tradition for overseas travellers to stop at the venue before journeying to/from the airport.
FROM A CROSS TO A CHURCH
Until around a century ago, Bambolim plateau had a thick cover of trees. Back then, the stone cross was a simple structure, but was upgraded over the course of time, till it reached its present avatar as the Holy Cross Church.
In the 1940s, a woman named Santana Afonso, from Siridao, had been diagnosed with end-stage cancer. But, Santana’s faith in God was very strong. So, she prayed for healing, and was miraculously cured! She had vowed to provide a canopy for the cross, if healed. And, she kept her promise. Word of her miraculously recovery spread quickly.
Soon, the cross took on the reputation of being a ‘miraculous cross’, with various faithful having their own stories of cures and wonders. As a result, it gradually became a place of pilgrimage, drawing people of all religions, and from distant places, to offer prayers and seek divine assistance in their lives.
In 1969, a military camp was set up in the vicinity of the cross, and the jawans and officers would go to there to pay their respects. The faithful in the army needed a place of worship, and the Bambolim Cross, being nearby, fulfilled that need. The personnel even had the cross tiled in white marble tiles, which are seen even today. The small canopy, too, was replaced with corrugated sheets.
Fr Raul Inacio, during his tenure as parish priest of Bambolim, began offering masses at the cross. Later, Fr Filipino Rebello expanded the prayer area. Fr Ariston Dias, who was the next parish priest, started regular Sunday masses at the cross. Fr Napolean Silveira, who followed, had a shamiana constructed behind the cross so that devotees could participate in the masses.
In 1991, Fr Freddy J da Costa was the parish priest of Bambolim, and had a vision of starting a Eucharistic Centre at the venue, where the Blessed Sacrament could be exposed during the whole day.
In 1995, the foundation stone for the church was laid by Archbishop Raul Gonsalves. Although there were many hurdles, the shrine was ready within a year, and was blessed and inaugurated in 1996.
Noted architect Ralino de Souza designed the shrine. The interior is fascinating with its two-tier system – the lower level faces the altar, while the rear is elevated – so that the entire congregation gets a good view of the altar.
Everyday, hundreds of people visit this Miraculous Cross, and Holy Cross Church, to pray and seek favours for various needs, as it is believed that people’s prayers are answered when they pray at this cross. With the GMC hospital being in the vicinity, the relatives of patients often visit the cross to pray for the recovery of their loved ones.
The feast day of the Holy Cross Church, in Bambolim, is held on the third Sunday of May. This year, the feast day is on May 15, 2022.