Skip to main contentAccessibility feedback

Archdiocese of Bombay

Ecclesial territory in India

Click to enlarge

Bombay (BOMBAYENSIS), Archdiocese of, comprises the Island of Bombay with several outlying churches in the neighboring Island of Salsette, and a large portion of the Bombay Presidency stretching northwards from the river Nerbudda as far as Quetta, including the districts of Gujerat (Broach, Baroda, Ahmedabad), Kathiawar, Cutch, Sind and a portion of Beluchistan. Most of the archdiocese is thus separated from its center in Bombay Island by a distance of about 200 miles, the intervening country being assigned to the Diocese of Damaun. The Catholic population under the archbishop is reckoned at about 18,000, of which about 8,000 are in Bombay Island; 3,500 in Salsette; 2,000 in Gujerat, Kathiawar, and Cutch, and 4,500 in Sind and Beluchistan. The archdiocese is served by 50 fathers, 19 scholastics, and 16 lay brothers of the German province of the Society of Jesus, and 19 native secular priests, attending 24 churches and 25 chapels, besides Sisters of the Orders of Jesus and Mary and the Daughters of the Cross engaged in education and charitable work.

HISTORY,—In 1534 the Portuguese began to settle in Bombay. They were accompanied by the Franciscans, who gradually covered the island with churches, monasteries, and communities of converts. When in 1665 the island was ceded to the English, the work was continued by the same order and by secular clergy from Goa. In 1720, on political grounds, the Goanese clergy were expelled by the Government, and the Vicar of the Great Mogul (formerly the Vicar of the Deccan) was invited to take charge of the Catholics. Although this was done with the approval of Rome, the Goanese clergy from time to time tried with the Government to recover their position, and in 1764 established a “double jurisdiction”. At first the vicariate extended indefinitely over the north of India; but in 1784 the northern portion was separated and given over to the Mission of Tibet. The vicariate then gradually began to be called the Vicariate of Bombay. It was under the care of the Carmelite fathers from 1720 to 1854. When they resigned their charge the vicariate was divided, the northern, or Bombay portion, being taken over by the Capuchins, while the southern, or Poona portion, was given to the German Jesuits. A few years later the Capuchins also resigned, and hence in 1858 the whole of the Bombay-Poona Mission came into the hands of the German Jesuits. Meantime a distressing conflict over the rights of jurisdiction (often referred to in literature as the Goan or Indo-Portuguese schism) was raging between the Goanese clergy of the Portuguese “padroado” and the vicars Apostolic under Propaganda, which, in spite of certain ineffectual negotiations, continued till 1886. In that year a concordat with Portugal was entered into by the Holy See, which brought the quarrel to a close, and at the same time the whole of India was placed under a fully constituted hierarchy. The Archbishop of Bombay received territorial jurisdiction over Bombay Island and over the northern districts already described, with Poona as a suffragan diocese. Mangalore and Trichinopoly were added as suffragan sees in 1893, in which year the First Provincial Council was held (Acta et Decreta, Bombay, 1898). The Island of Salsette and the coast country as far as the Nerbudda were placed under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Damaun who also received personal jurisdiction in Bombay Island over all who came from Goa, or from any other district under the Portuguese ecclesiastical regime. This arrangement is popularly known as the “double jurisdiction”.

SUCCESSION OF PRELATES.—Vicars-Apostolic of the Carmelite order: Maurice of St. Teresa, 1718-26; Peter D’Alcantara of the Most Holy Trinity, 1728-45; Innocent of the Presentation, 1746-53; John Dominic of St. Clara, 1755-72; Charles of St. Conrad, 1775-85; Victor of St. Mary, 1787-93; Peter D’Alcantara of St. Antony, 1794-1840; Aloysius Mary Fortini, 1840-48; John F. Whelan, 1848-50. Capuchin, Anastasius Hartmann, 1850-58. Jesuits: Alexis Canoz (administrator), 1858-61; Walter Steins, 1861-1867; Leo Meurin (a writer and lecturer of considerable merit), 1867-87; George Porter (first archbishop), 1886-89; Theodore Dalhoff, 1891-1906; Hermann Jurgens, appointed May 28, consecrated, July 14, 1907.

INSTITUTIONS.—In Bombay Island.—The High School of St. Xavier with 1,400 pupils; the College of St. Xavier with about 350 students preparing for Bombay University degrees. The majority of these pupils are non-Christians, whose admission, however, brings prestige, personal respect and esteem to the Catholic body, and enables the College to work on a financial basis, making it possible to provide a good education for Catholics. Further, St. Mary’s High School with 190 boarders and 310 day-scholars, mostly Europeans or Eurasians. The teaching staff of these three institutions consists of Jesuit fathers and scholastics, assisted by lay masters. For girls, High Schools at Clare Road, Parel, and the Fort, and a native school at Cavel, under the Nuns of Jesus and Mary. Other charitable institutions: St. Joseph‘s Foundling Home and St. Vincent’s Home for poor women and girls, under the Daughters of the Cross; St. Elizabeth‘s Widows’ Home, under the Nuns of Jesus and Mary; the Allbless Leper Home, Trombay, and the Deaf and Dumb Institute under a European secular priest. In Salsette: St. Stanislaus’s Institution, Bandra, under the Jesuit fathers, with 240 native boarders and 450 day-scholars; St. Joseph‘s Convent, Bandra, under the Daughters of the Cross, for native girls, with 330 boarders and 220 day-scholars. In the Northern Districts: St. Patrick’s High School, at Karachi, with 306 pupils; St. Joseph‘s Convent School, Karachi, with 70 boarders and 300 day-scholars; St. Paul’s Orphanage belonging to the pagan mission at Arland in Gujerat with 100 orphans; St. Joseph‘s Convent, Ahmedabad, with 100 pupils; besides smaller establishments of all kinds scattered over the archdiocese. There is no diocesan seminary, the native secular clergy being trained at the Papal Seminary at Kandy in Ceylon. The finest buildings in the archdiocese are the Church of the Holy Name with the archbishop’s residence and Convent School, Bombay; the Bombay Cathedral, a large structure in the Portuguese style; St. Patrick’s Church, Karachi; the collegiate buildings of St. Xavier’s and St. Mary’s, Bombay, to which latter St. Anne’s Church is attached. Local publications include “The Examiner” (formerly called the “Bombay Catholic Examiner”) edited by a Jesuit father; established in 1849 it is published weekly at the Examiner Press which is the property of the archbishop; “The Bombay East Indian”, the weekly organ of the Native Christians of Bombay; a local “Supplement” to the English “Messenger”; a “Messenger of the Sacred Heart” in Marathi, besides a number of vernacular books in Marathi, Gujerati, etc., published according to need.


Did you like this content? Please help keep us ad-free
Enjoying this content?  Please support our mission!