Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Our Lady of Immaculate Conception Church, Pune - 227 years old built by Portuguese

Pune’s Our Lady of Immaculate Conception Church, also known as City Church, is one of the oldest churches in Maharastra. Located i  in the crowded Nana Peth area, its 225th anniversary was celebrated by the Catholic community in early December 2017. This Puna's first  church was under the purview of Archdiocese of Goa.

Toward the end of the 18th century, Peshwa Madhavrao II, the de facto leader of the Maratha Empire, realized his catholic soldiers from Goa had no church to meet their spiritual needs. So he thought they should have their own place of worship and historical records mention that  Madhavrao donated four acres of land  in 1792 to have a church built, thus facilitating the opening of  the Catholic Church in Pune. It was built in Gothic style in 1852 replacing a mud building.   The mass was held  on the Christmas day in 1792  by priests in the presence of  two bishops of Pune and the Archbishop of Goa at the altar.They felicitated during the mass Peshwa descendants – Vinayakrao Peshwa and his nephew Mahendra Peshwa for the munificence of the Maratha rulers. Said an old parishioner ''honouring of the Peshwa descendants “a great gesture” by the parish priest, Father Salvador Pinto. Ambrose, who was responsible for placing banners along the route of the procession on that day
The church has been part of many parishioners who, though moved away from this area, have  a link with this historic church and attend the feast masses and Christmas. 

It is to be noted that the Maratha's had good relation with the Portuguese  as evidenced by the presence of 200 Goan catholics and 100 Portuguese soldiers in the Maratha army by 1788 -  according to PS Pissurlencar’s Portuguese Mahratta Relations. The reason was the Portuguese had good knowledge of   artillery, something the Marathas  lacked. So, they treated the  gunners in the army well.  In the 17th century the Europeans had an advanced knowlede of artllery“ and the Indian rulers sought their services for the army. From 1819, the church receive grants from the British government.
Goan culture is part of this church and the city's mother  produced 57 priests, provincials and Bisho emeritus, The mass is held in Konkani, widely spoken in Goa and part of west Karnataka.