Special thanks to Mohnish for providing the photographs.
The Martyrs of Cuncolim
The lands of Salcette, the best in the whole of Konkan for the plentifulness and healthfulness, well populated before, were found devoid of dwellers, without there being those who would till them, not only because of wars but as much because they would not bear that their temples should be burnt and for “trying, in many ways, to convert theme to our holy catholic faith.
So writes Fransisco Pais in 1595.
What exactly was happening in Goa during those days? The answer remains buried. Here is an humble attempt to find out from original sources themselves. I have not referred to any “Communal” or “Distorted RSS version” of history but to the books that the Portuguese themselves wrote during their own rule. My motive can be question but the facts cant.
Justice Antonio De Noronha notes in his book:
The 3rd council of Goa, in which harshest measures are taken and demanded, fines are levied against the infidels for the benefit of the new churches of christians, wearing of the thread is prohibited and the King urged ban the gentile (local Hindu population) marriage rites.
As if this much was not enough
At an instance of Fr. Gomes Vas, jesuit, Father of Christians, it was prohibited that any infidel master of any trade and craft may have a christian apprentice.
Let us now look at the situation in Cuncolim. The words are of Justice Antonio.
As the villages of Cuncolim, Veroda, Assolna, Velim and Ambelim were falling a bit outside the operation of the jesuits and the ferocity of the famous Captain of Rachol, many gentile had taken refuge there., as we have said, making these villages their main stronghold, there having been already various skirmishes, among which the assasination of the bailiff of the lands of Salcete, Estevao Rodrigues, when he had gone there to collect the land rents which the inhibitants refusing to pay, provoked by the resolutions of 2nd council.
It is very likely that Hindu people who had fled from various parts of Goa happened to meet an Cuncolim because Cuncolim was a place not so affected by the Jesuits. Certainly they must have shared there experiences. During those times there was hardly any communication and see what magic does information play. They must have realized that the Portuguese are hell bound to kill everything that they hold sacred. Killing the rent collector was one of the manifestation of this anger.
On another occasion a messenger of Portuguese carrying a letter from Cochin was ill treated in the village. The Portuguese decided to retaliate.
The D. Gil Anes Mascarenhas, first Captain of Malabar Coast and Gomes Anes de Figueiredo, captain of Rachol, were sent there to punish the rebels; and these two captains, with their troops, devastated the two villages of Assolna and Cuncolim,. And as only the help of troops was not enough for a certain measure of destruction, they took two Jesuits, Fr. Antonio Francisco, vicar of Orlim, and Fr. Pero Berno, the first one of whom set on fire the temples of Assolna and the second those of Cuncolim.
Remember by dear readers these are words of a Portuguese Judge himself written in 1911. This is not written by some BJP leader, in fact I am sure any BJP leader will chicken out to even acknowledge that such a thing happened.
But this is not the end to Cuncolim’s plight. Justice Antonio Noronha continues
After the calm was restored, the gentiles re-built their houses and temples. But again troops were sent, which instigated by Frs. Manuel Teixeira, Pero Berno and Afonso Pacheco, caused formidable destruction. They not only destroyed temples, as also razed palm-tree groves and harvests, and by way of maximum hurt, a cow was slaughtered – the hindus worship the cow- and with its blood the holy places were sprinkled on.
Remember all this is does the priests who were talking of spreading the religion of “His mercy” , the religion of a person who died on cross but without any hatred for his own killers.
But destruction of temple is not enough, the Jesuits wanted to build a church where now they could convert the poor hindus whose hard earned property they had just destroyed.
Spirits pacified, the jesuits thought it opportune to build a church in Cuncolim; and when, in 1583, with this aim, the missionary Rodalfo Aquaviva went there with some companions, the gentiles frothing rage, yelling venegeance, in a furious explosion of repressed hatred, beheaded them cruelly.
What a communal Hindu population? Was he a RSS man? Was he some Bajrang Dal activist who killed the poor priest who had come there only to serve these people? It would have been so nice for the current day politicians and media had BJP or RSS existed during that time because then they could have squarely blamed this on them.
But for a rational mind it is evident why the Hindus of Cuncolim did this. And when that is understood we can apply the same rules to Graham Staine’s murder in Orrissa. There, the crimes committed by Jesuits went unreported and unpunished, hence one tribal called Dara Singh got provoked and he burned Staines alive. Then the sky fell on our media and government who labeled Dara Singh as Hindu Fundamentalist, RSS man etc. Note that when the tribal are repressive, the Church is hell bent on not recognizing them as Hindu but religion less pagans whose souls need to be harvested. But when one of the tribal hits back, he is no more a religion less tribal, but a Hindu that too a fundamentalist one.
These beheaded priest were beatified, that is “declared as saints” they were declared as martyrs of cuncolim and their relics are preserved in See of Goa as pride of Christianity in Goa. One should read what the church thinks about these “Martyrs” and the “Pagans” who killed them at the “Catholic Encyclopedia”.
But the better sense prevailed after independence. The Goan government honored the “Pagans” as the first freedom fighters of India. Not only that a memorial was built in the memory of these gentiles. It is very important to note that the initiative to build this memorial was taken by a christian Dr. Verimisso Coutinho and Mr. Dattaram Desai. The memorial was also blessed by a Christian priest and a Hindu priest. Here are some images of the memorial and the cross those beheaded priest tried to erect.