10th January a Day to Remember

Concerned authorities had determined that the grave of Fr. Agnelo should be opened on 10th January 1939 at 4 a.m. and then the bones transferred to the Monastery of Pilar. But hordes of people from different corners of Goa , among them even non-Christians, had started flocking to the cemetery on the previous evening. There was a great expectation and excitement. A new coffin was made to put the body in case it was found incorrupt. Now they decided to dig open the grave on January 9th around 7.30 p.m. Msgr. Thomas de Aquino Barreto representing His Excellency the Patriarch, Adv. Jose Cassio Fernandes representing the Confrarias of Salcete, Rev. Fr. Rosario Gomes, Superior General of the Society of Pilar, Msgr. Jeronimo S. Freitas, Rector of the Seminary of Rachol, Canon Joaquim Ferreira, Canon Alexandre Pereira Andrade, a number of Seminarians from Rachol were present. Invitation was also given to Dr. Vicente Gracias and Dr. Peregrino da Costa, as experts in the medical science. The committee proceeded to the grave marked as the burial place of Fr. Agnelo and after taking out from over the grave a crown of flowers and a covering made of purple cloth, they began to dismantle the tombstone placed over the grave in cemetery. A good amount of mud was collected from the same grave to be carried to Pilar. As some had anticipated, they did not find the body, but only bones. Obviously, many felt disappointed and among those present some had tears rolling down their eyes. Now there was a pin drop silence in the cemetery, only the coarse sound of spade was heard. All the bones were meticulously collected. At the end, the acts of the event were recorded and signed by those officially deputed. The urn with relics of Fr. Agnelo was carried to Rachol Seminary, where a Mass was offered on the next day in honour of Sacred Heart of Jesus. Now it was time to proceed to the Pilar Monastery and the urn was handed over to the Superior of the Pilar Society. Despite the concerted efforts made to keep the event secret, many people from the villages surrounding Pilar were gathered to welcome the remains of the Servant of God. Not knowing what route would be taken, some were awaiting at the Agassaim ferry wharf, whereas some others had decided to go to Old Goa. However, a great number of people were gathered at the foot of the Pilar hillock. Dr. Maximo de Menezes from Goa-Velha had gone around to inform people about this great event. He had also hired two brass bands to make it a solemn “welcome home” to Fr. Agnelo. As the urn arrived at the Agassaim ferry point, it was solemnly received by a large crowd of people. Mr. Paulo Pereira (Paulo Travels) from Goa-Velha had offered his new brand mini-bus (Caminhao) GA 2610 to carry the urn. The vehicle was beautifully decorated and driven by Mr. Bernard Novais from Dando, Goa-Velha. Around 11 a.m. as the vehicle arrived at the foot of the Pilar hillock, the brass bands resounded solemn musical melodies. As the crowd thronged along the road, the shining Caminhao could move with much difficulty. Finally, at the request of the villagers the urn was carried up the hill in procession. Members of the CRUZADA EUCARISTICA and confrades from the neighbouring villages dressed in their official attire lined up with great respect and devotion. The procession wended its way to the Pilar Monastery. There was a singular joy on the face of Fr. R. Gomes, the Superior for having accomplished what he had desired so ardently.