Discalced Carmelites marked 400 years of their arrival in Asia with a Mass in the ruins of their ancient monastery in Goa on Nov. 29 the feast day of their first martyrs, Blessed Dionysius and Redemptus.

Some 20 priests concelebrated Mass inside a make-shift shed at the ruins, which was once the center of Carmelite missionaries in Asia. The site largely unknown to locals, has tombs of significant personalities of royal families and Carmelite friars.


Fr Charles Serrao OCD, provincial of the Karnataka-Goa province of the Carmelites was the main celebrant and Fr Sylvestre D'Souza OCD, councillor for spirituality delivered the homily.
Fr Leander of the Annunciation, a native of Burgos in Spain, contacted authorities in Goa for the purpose of setting up a foundation in the state. Without much difficulty, Fr Leander was able to secure a temporary license from Archbishop Don Cristobal de Sa Lisboa. The Carmelites landed in 1616 in Old Goa, the ancient Portuguese capital, which also served as the center of Portuguese mission to the rest of Asia in the 17th century.


The archbishop and viceroy contributed to the construction of a magnificent church which was inaugurated on April 25, 1620 and completed in 1621. Today, one can see the ruins of the first foundation Carmelite monastery at this place, where over 100 friars were trained.


It is recalled that Blessed Redemptus, a Portuguese soldier, joined the Carmelites to be a non-clerical Carmelite brother through a profession of vows in 1635 at Old Goa. The other was Fr Dionysius, a French sailor and a cartographer, who was admitted into the novitiate at Old Goa in the year 1635.


When the ambassador, Francis D'Souza was to leave for the East Indies on the request of the government, his superiors allowed Fr Dionysius to go along with the diplomatic mission sent by the viceroy to the sultan of Acheh in the East Indies. He was accompanied by Redemptus of the Cross.


While the ambassador and his troupe were released, Fr Dionysius and Redemptus were enslaved for some time, and subjected to torture before they were martyred on November 29, 1638.


These first martyrs of the Teresian Carmel were beatified by Pope Leo XIII in 1900.

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