Saturday, 4 August 2012

The Caribbean Catholic Visits Moruga and the Church of Saint Vincent Ferrer

ON August 1st, I went to Moruga. It is a district on the Southern coast of the isle of Trinidad. Here Columbus' men landed and Columbus named the island on August 1st 1498. So the people living here do an annual re-enactment of Columbus' landing. This year (2012) they unveiled a statue of Columbus.

About Moruga: The main villages within the Moruga district (heading south from Princes Town) are Indian Walk, Fifth Company, Preau (St Mary's), Cachipe, Rock River, Basse Terre, Bois Jean Jean, Grand Chemin, La Lune and Marac, with the last three communities located on the coast. Basse Terre has the largest population and Grand Chemin is the location of the major government buildings such as the local police station, library and public health facility.

Princes Town was originally founded as the Amerindian Mission of Savana Grande, the town was renamed after the 1880 visit by Queen Victoria's grandsons, Prince Albert and Prince George (later King George V). The Princes each planted a poui tree at the Anglican church in the area, which still survives to this day.

Fifth Company Village was settled by Freed African Slaves who fought for the British in the American war of 1812. Read more about the village at the end of this post.

The drive through Princes town to Moruga was scenic and beautiful. The rolling hills were such a sight. After driving for 90 minutes from the Capital (port of Spain, I was tired and so when I saw the sea, the church and a Statue of Saint Peter, I was so happy. (Image Below).

What a magnificent Statue it is.

The Church is over 100 years old. It was built on the beach and was constructed with Sea Sand.

The Church is called "The Church of Saint Vincent Ferrer". Vincent Ferrer,(23 January 1350 – 5 April 1419) was a Valencian Dominican friar, who gained acclaim as a missionary and a logician. He was canonized by Pope Calixtus III on 3 June 1455.

The Church of Saint Vincent Ferrer only one of the many Catholic Churches in the district. It and the Presbytery are located in the village of Crand Chem. Other villages in the area also have catholic churches which are served by the area Parish Priest - La Lune (St Monica), Marac (St. Martin), Basseterre (St Anthony)
Santa Maria and Rock River (St. Mary).

This is the Cornerstone of the Church.

And what is a Catholic Church without the Virgin?

You can barely see the beautiful painting on the ceiling of the tower. This was painted by the Michael Angelo of Moruga, school teacher Eric Lewis.

And how pretty is the inside of this church?

On the right of the photo is Father Baskar Jayasaleen. This very nice priest an ethnic Tamil. This ethnic group is native to Pondichery, Tamil Nadu, India and the north-eastern region of Sri Lanka. So he has come to Trinidad from very far away to follow missionary life. Perhaps then, it is no wonder that He and his assistant priest Fr Karuna Kumar, are priests of the order "Missionaries of Saint Francis De Sales"

On the way out of Moruga we came across this tiny munitions bunker.

The Sign says it all.

FIFTH COMPANY VILLAGE: According to Wikipedia: Fifth Company Village, was settled in 1816 by the fifth of six companies of Black American soldiers. These were ex-slaves who had helped the British fight during the American war of 1812, and therefore when the British lost the war they could not remain in that country. The British Secretary of State for the Colonies approved the sending of six companies to be settled in Trinidad. The Governor of Trinidad, Sir Ralph Woodford, decided the best place to settle them was in the thickly forested area near to a former Spanish mission to the natives called La MisiĆ³n de Savana Grande (later to be known as Princes Town).

The soldiers and their women and children numbered 574 persons. They were disillusioned on their arrival to find that they were in a wilderness instead of being in fine homes as they were promised. They never forgave Woodford for the deception but had to set out busily to establish homes for themselves. The hard-working black American soldiers transformed the area into plantations of cocoa, coffee, and sugar-cane.

There six company villages (1st Company, 2nd Comapny, etc).

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