What’s the amazing spectacle at Margao’s Holy Spirit Church every March?
Every church in Goa has its own unique features and special events, which attract devotees and visitors. And, so does the Holy Spirit Church, in Margao.
The Holy Spirit Church, or Espirito Santo Igreja em Margao, in Portuguese, is over 400-years-old and was the first church to be built in Margao. Its Baroque style of architecture is magnificent, while the interiors and altars are a gorgeous work of art. While these might be pleasing to the eyes, the church also contains some marvels of design.
THE EQUINOX & THE DIVINE
The vernal equinox, marking the beginning of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere, occurs about March 21, when the Sun moves north across the celestial equator. The autumnal equinox falls around September 23, as the Sun crosses the celestial equator going south.
Every year, at sunset on March 20 and September 23, the beams of sunlight from the church's oculus windows illuminate the statues of Jesus and the Blessed Virgin Mary on the main altar of the church. When this happens, the place to be is inside the church to witness the spectacle – a confluence of architectural design and spirituality.
On these specific days, at a particular time in the evening, as the sun moves across the horizon, light enters the church through an ocular window on the central facade of the church. Another two beams of light shine through windows on either side of this central oculus.
As the sun moves overhead, these three beams momentarily rest on three statues – the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Holy Spirit/Dove – on the left altar, right altar and center of the main altar, respectively, which bear these statues.
The rays first touch the base of the main altar, and then slowly rise upward for roughly 20 minutes, finally lighting up the altars of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Holy Spirit. Before coming to rest on the main altar, the beams light up the image of the Last Supper.
The Dove forms part of a painting depicting the Pentecost, a special moment in the Bible, when the Holy Spirit (symbolised by a Dove) is sent, 50 days after the Resurrection of Christ. The spring equinox occurs during Lent, and the church is dedicated to the Holy Spirit, making this phenomenon, both, spectacular and special.
In pre-Covid times, the church would be packed to capacity with people, including astronomy enthusiasts wanting to witness this 20-minute astronomical phenomenon.
The church is open on the days of the equinox for those who wish to see this celestial event.
You can witness the magic of the equinox at the Holy Spirit Church, Margao, on March 20, 2022 & March 21, 2022 at 6 pm