Sunday, 24 December 2017

Historical Holy Cross Church, Kurla built by the Portuguese Jesuits

Holy Cross Church, Kurlaindianexpress.com
Holy Cross Church, Kurla, a suburb of Mumbai  is a Roman Catholic Church that was built in1588 during the Portuguese era. The Jesuits and Franciscan built many catholic churches in this area as they were given ample support by the King of Portugal. The church was rebuilt in 1848 for some reason . It is one of the oldest churches in Mumbai.

Holy Cross church, Kurla en.wikipedia
The initiative to build the church and residence  near the village of Kurla on Salcette Island was taken up by St. Francis Xavier in his capacity as the first Provincial Superior of India and the Far East. He  wrote to  the King of Portugal in this regard, seeking permission and grant of funds. Impressed by his religious zeal, on February 22, 1570, King Sebastian of Portugal  granted  the Villages of Bandra and Kurla, as well as Saki and Mohili in favour of the Jesuits of St. Paul’s College of Goa, which was then  the headquarters of the Jesuits of Asia. Upon confirmation of funds from the Royal Courts of Lisbon on November 1, 1572  the Jesuits came to Kurla and Bandra in 1573 and the first small Chapel was built in the same year. It is said in 1580 a church was built by the Jesuits and in mid 1580s, two Jesuit brothers  residing at Bandra, cared for the parishioners of Kurla and periodically took care of their religious obligation - attending Feast days, conducting Mass , teaching Catechism and helping  Catholics.

The earlier name of the church was  “Iglesia de San Salvador” (Church of Our Holy Saviour), later changed to  'Invencao de Santa Cruz', Church of the finding of the Holy Cross. Perhaps, this was soon shortened to  “Church of the Holy Cross”, as  due importance is given to the  devotions to the Cross of Christ as noted  in the Annual Letters to Rome of Jesuits of India, found in the Monumenta Historica Societatis lesu and the Documenta Indica.
Since the matrimonial alliance between English and Portugal Royal families, during  1669 to 1739, the British had ruled the Seven Islands of Bombay, whereas  Salsette Island was still in Portuguese hands. Despite the alliance between two countries, the political relationship between them was not that good. 
Whenever the British had  misgiving  against the Portuguese, they used the Jesuits and their church and houses in Kurla  as a sandbag to punch and to let out their frustrations. The threats of  bombardment from the Sion Hillock Fort, situated on the northern end of Bombay (which lay immediately across the Mahim creek) made the Jesuits and the Portuguese unhappy.  After the fall of  the Church in 1739  into the hands of the Marathas, Jesuits' activities declined. Later, the administration of the parish came under the control of  Diocesan clergy.

The 20th century saw a large influx of Catholics in Bombay and this
necessitated the building of more parishes to  serve the Christians and to fulfill their religious obligations. From the original parish of Kurla, six parishes came up in Bombay from the original parish of Kurla such as  Our Lady of Fatima Church, kirol in 1953, St. Joseph, near Kurla Railway Station in 1968,, etc.  Extension and renovation of the Church structure was undertaken. in order to accommodate increasing Catholic patrons. The church belongs to the Archdiocese of Bombay.
Ref:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holy_Cross_Church,_Kurla