The Holy Cross Oratory in this village was built by the residents in the late 1890s when Bombay was struck by plague. They offered prayers to St Roque – the patron saint of epidemics, for the protection of their loved ones. And legend has it that not a single Matharpacady resident fell a prey to that epidemic.
The tradition of praying at the Holy Cross Oratory has been going on for more than a century and has been kept alive by the residents who gather every evening even today and offer prayers and thanksgiving for protecting them through good and bad times.
According to a resident St John Valladares, this faith in the Cross has been kept alive for 87 summers. Every year from April 22 onwards, the community gathers at the Cross for thanksgiving with a rosary, litanies to Our Lady, the Holy Cross and St Roque, that culminate into a feast of the Cross on May 1. Everyone from grandparents to toddlers – all join in the prayers; and it is a way of thanking God for the well-being of all. Prayers are also offered for a good monsoon, which is another tradition from the community’s farming days.
According to another resident John Borges who lives here in Matharpacady since 1958, there have been a few changes. Earlier they had the litanies in Latin; but keeping in tune with the times, the music has also changed. However, the essence of thanksgiving still remains the same. Now the younger generation actively participates for they feel it is an important part of their spiritual heritage and they want to keep in touch with their roots.