St. Michael's Church is one of the oldest Catholic churches as well as one of oldest existing Portuguese buildings in Mumbai. The church is situated in Mahim, located at the intersection of L.J. Road and Mahim Causeway. Due to its location, it is also informally known as Mahim Church. The church is famous for its Novenas on Wednesdays, which is visited by thousands.
The church, originally built in 1534, is rebuilt a number of times, the present structure dating to 1973. The church also served a refuge to popular icon of the Virgin Mary from Our Lady of the Mount chapel, Bandra from 1739 to 1761. In 1853, the Church witnessed a showdown between vicars Apostolic and the Portuguese padroado order for the control of the Church. In recent history, on 27 June, 2008, thousands of devotees visited the Church to see a reported "bleeding" Jesus Christ's portrait, which was termed as a "miracle" by devotees. Though on further investigation, the red spots on the picture showed no traces of blood.
Not only Christians, but also adherents of other faiths congregate to pay their respects to the Virgin Mary and attend mass every Wednesday. Devotees believe that visiting the Church on nine consecutive Wednesdays (Novena) will grant their wishes. They offer floral garlands according to the Hindu customs and repeat prayers before the image. Some of them offer wax figures of what they desire, for example, a wax house. According to Father Hugh Fonseca, around 40-50,000 devotees visit the church every week.
The weekly Novena services were started in 1948, when a priest Fr. Edward Placidus Fernandes from Mumbai noticed a similar ritual celebrating Our Lady of Perpetual Succour at Belfast, Northern Ireland, during his visit to Europe. Fr. Fernandes brought with him a picture touched to the original Our Lady of Perpetual Succour picture at Rome. On the 8th of September, 1948 - the Birthday of Mary, concurrent with a Wednesday that year, Fr. Fernandes as the vicar held the first Novena services. Initially, only two services were held every Wednesday, but today from 8:30 am to 10:30 pm, the thirteen services are held in various languages: English, Konkani, Marathi, Tamil and Hindi.