Sunday, 26 February 2017

The Sacred Heart Church, Bangalore, a relic of the colonial past

In the 1600, when Queen Elizabeth I was on the throne of England, the English arrived in India as traders. In order to meet the spiritual needs of the  ever-increasing numbers  the expatriate British community, Champlains and ministers had begun to arrive in India later in large numbers. In 1814, the Diocese of Calcutta was promulgated followed by  the Diocese of Madras in 1835 (mostly the current Church of South India including Ceylon and south east Asia) and the Diocese of Bombay in 1837.  The Indian church was formed into a province, with the Bishop of Calcutta being metropolitan ex-officio. 

Because of the arrival of various missions in India, there was disunity among the churches. After various mergers, etc finally in 1908, then existing two  two bodies, the Presbyterian and the Congregational, came together to form the South India United Church. The Christians, in the middle of independence struggle, during the later part of the 19th century, had to rely on self-reliance and independence to keep themselves going. After India's independence in August 1947, the Church of South India union ceremony took place  at St George's Cathedral in Madras on 27 September 1947.
Sacred Heart Church, Bangalore. www.dreamstime.com
  The Sacred Heart Church, Bangalore is an historical one built  in a rare mix Gothic and French style architecture.Constructed in 1867, this colonial church has  Roman-style side altars, two parallel column towers and a huge bell from Italy.  The building is characteristic of solid blocks of granite rock, marble interiors, beautifully sculpted statutes and pillars decorated with Corinthian-style carvings. 

The Sacred Heart Church had a humble beginning in a small rented bungalow near the old Race Course Road Ground at the end of the Victoria Road near Shoolay which was used both as a Church and presbytery. Today Sacred Heart Church is 121 years old and has more than 10,000 parishioners to support the church and its activities. On 15th October 1995, a great event took place  here and it was the visit of Mother Teresa of Calcutta. To honor her visit to Bangalore city, a road  was named after her.
Sacred Heart Church, Bangalore  www.polkacafe.com

 St. Mary’s Church and St. Francis Xavier’s Church had conducted services for the Indian Christians until 1880 and later they became members of  Sacred Heart church. Subsequently  Rev. Agustus Chevalier built a separate parish cum first parish priest.

In the mid 1880s there a space crunch for the parishioners and by 1886 Sacred Heart Church was transferred to a small bungalow next to priest’s cemetery.  Barring Sundays, daily masses were held at the Victoria Road Bungalow. St. Patrick’s Church became the venue for the parishioners  for masses that were conducted in Tamil  there. Subsequently,
sacred heart church became a  separate parish by the Church authorities. Sacred Heart parish for a short period was transferred to St. Patrick’s but the diocesan authorities reinstated sacred heart church as separate parish.
Sacred Heart Church, Ashok Nagar, Bangalore .sacredheartparish.in
A new church became a necessity to accommodate more and more worshipers and in 1893
foundation stone for the constriction of a new church  was laid Rt. Rev. Msgr. Kleiner and on 23rd December,  Rev. Fr. J. M. Cambret graced the occasion by conducting the first holy mass. The parishioners  celebrated the first feast in 1896 in the evening and  for the first time parishioners received the blessing in the church or the Blessed Sacrament in the church. 

The church had a distinguished parish priest Rev. J. V. D. Souza who worked from 1922 to 1956. During this span of long years, he did a yeoman services and made this church a popular one. As early as 1934, he built a a school for boys and girls (at Bin Secours), two side altars of St. Anthony and the little Flower of Jesus, built a marble alter and tiled the floor. Also installed was the way of the cross plaques. The Rev. Souza was instrumental in initiating  the Corpus Christ procession in sacred heart church.

Church is actively engaged in community services and runs four active institutions 
Sacred Heart Boys’ Home Committee, Sacred Heart Education Committee, Bangalore Community College Committee and Glowing Embers ( Friends of the aged and sick ) and the purpose is  to take care of all the section of the community. Priest Sagayanathan started Bangalore Community College and Sacred Heart Boys’ Home for the marginalized children and youth of the parish.  Several additions were made like conference hall, etc. Because of fine landscaping done around the church, this place of veneration and the surroundings have an impressive and soul-searching ambience that makes the parishioners engage in the Church activities with religious fervor and trust in Christ who will give spiritual guidance to them go past the difficult times in their lives without fear and reservation.

This impressive church is, no doubt, is a bridge between modern India and its early connectivity with the British colonialism.

Ref:
http://www.sacredheartparish.in/history.html