The Apparitions of Our Lady at Batim – Dr Christopher Dias
Batim is a village situated in the Tiswadi district of North Goa, India. Batim has a population of a little more than 1500 as per the Population Census 2011. It is situated about 10 Kms away from Panjim, the capital of Goa. The town is surrounded by Goa Velha, Pilar, Curca, Santana and Old Goa.The region is very picturesque with coconut palms, paddy fields and ponds forming most of the nature strip.
The Parish Church of Batim is dedicated to Guadalup Saibinn i.e. Nossa Senhora de Guadalupe. Next to Batim is Ganxim Hill which forms a part of the village of Ganxim. It is surrounded by the villages of Talaulim, Goalim de Moula, Azossim, Neura O Grande and Batim. The imposing Church on the Ganxim hilltop was constructed by the Augustinian Archbishop D.Frei Aleixo de Menezes between 1596-1610 and was dedicated to the apostles St.Simon and St. Jude.
The Church atop Ganxim Hill (now popularly known as Mt Batim) was deserted since the infamous plague that struck the region more than 200 years ago. The Church and cemetery stood lonely and rejected -utterly isolated for over 200 yrs. The Church was exposed to nature’s elements. The roof was beginning to give way, the timber deteriorated and creepers and wild plants began to grow inside. When the plague came to Ganxim, it devastated a way of life, sweeping away the pattern of centuries, destroying the families that lived there. The mountaintop laid barren - devoid of body, soul and spirit.
It was Fr Pedro Franscisco Pereira from Betalbatim who was instrumental in reviving and renovating the Ganxim Church with help from the locals and the Holy See (as can be seen from the plaques in the Church). He was also helped by Fr Inacio Mariano do Rosario of Pilar. After completion of the restoration work, the Holy Mass was celebrated on June 3rd, 1973 and thereafter on every first Thursday of the month. The locals recall that Fr. Pereira would frequently say that Ganxim would one day be a place of pilgrimage: “Ek dis zateli hi suvat peregrin asanvachi!” The feast of Sts Simon and Jude after which the Ganxim Church is named is celebrated in the last Sunday of October.
His Holiness Pope Paul VI donated money towards this Church on 30th November 1974.
Mountains and hills are mentioned over 500 times in the Bible. Mountains have a religious symbolism for God’s people since they are " closer to God" who was believed to dwell in the heavens (as in the sky).
In the Old Testament God would often speak to the prophets on a mountain. The mountains of Sinai and Zion are most significant. Mount Sinai, of course, is associated with Moses and is the place where Moses received the Ten Commandments. Mt Sinai is a symbol of God's Covenant with Israel. In the New Testament, Jesus appoints the Twelve on a mountain. In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus delivers the Beatitudes in his Sermon on the Mount. Perhaps the most significant mountain scene in the Gospels, however, is the Transfiguration of Jesus on the mountain top.
Embarking on a pilgrimage up a sacred mountain is a sign of spiritual aspiration and the renunciation of worldly desires. The journey instills into the believer a burning desire for God, just as the disciples experienced on their journey to Emmaus.
The Batim village received widespread publicity in 1993 due to the apparition of the Virgin Mary to Mrs Iveta Fernandes at Mt Batim. The devotion to Our Lady of Fatima reinvigorated in that part of Goa. The messages that Iveta received at this mountaintop are being published in a book.
The Chapel of St. Simon and St. Jude, Ganxim, Batim was constructed by the Augustinian Archbishop D. Frei Aleixo de Menezes between 1596-1610. The infamous plague that hit Old Goa, then, also reached this Parish. The villagers fled helter and skelter. Later Fr. Pedro Francisco Pereira, plunged into the great renovation work of the Church, then, with financial help of the locals and the Holy See. He was helped by Fr. Inaciao Mariano do Rosario of Pilar. After completion of the restoration work, Holy Mass was celebrated on June3, 1973.
The Parish Priest, then, Fr. Ernesto Herculano Socorro Pereira (June 1997 to May 2000) had obtained the Archbishop’s permission for celebration of Holy Mass in 1996-97. Subsequently, he had obtained Aux. Bishop’s permission for opening the well in 1998.