The Indian Church is in a peculiar
situation. The living flame of the Gospel was brought to this country by St.
Thomas, the Apostle of Christ. But
for centuries it remained hidden under a bushel. With the coming of the colonial
powers and the missionaries from Europe, faith began to spread slowly to
different parts of India, but it still remained nothing more than a little lamp
has it that it is due to the relentless activity of the Portuguese; the seeds of
Christianity were sown in Canara. After the martyrdom of Fr. Pedro Cabilioness,
who accompanied Vasco da Gama, Fransicans and Dominicans arrived to Goa, the
then headquarters of political and religious activity of the Portuguese. In
1521, Lopez de Sampio entered Canara with his soldiers and under his care
Franciscan missionaries started to spread the Gospel. Three churches were built;
one dedicated to Our Lady of Rosary at Mangalore; another to Our Lady of Mercy
at Ullal Fajir and a third one to St. Francis of Assisi at Farangipet.
Goan Christians in Canara
We have no evidence that Francis Xavier came to Mangalore; though he laboured in
Goa. The ancestors of many Mangalore Christians are Goans who were welcomed by
the Hindu rulers of Bednore for their skill in agriculture. Others came to
Mangalore to escape the trials of inquisition and also to avoid the constant
raids of the Marata rulers
Padroado and Canara Christians
The Portuguese supported the mission activity under the Paradox (Protectorate:
privileges) in Canara. However the arrival of the British and the Dutch gave a
blow to the activity of the Portuguese and gradually the Portuguese were unable
to send the required number of missionaries to Mangalore. The appointment of the
Vicar Apostolic of Mangalore was felt to be the need of the hour. Shivappa Naik,
the king of Bednore, pressurized that a native priest be chosen as the Vicar
Apostolic. So, Fr. Andrew Gomez was appointed as the Vicar Apostolic but before
the nomination papers could reach Mangalore, Fr.Gomez died.
Bishop Thomas Castro as the Vicar Apostolic of Canara
At the recommendation of the Vicar General of Verapoly, Msgr Sebastiani, Pope
Clement X appointed Thomas de Castro, a Theatine priest, as the Vicar Apostolic
of Canara on 30th August 1675 to remedy the sad state of the Canara
Christians. After his consecration, he came first to Calicut and then to
Mangalore (1677-84) and in 1680 he built conflict with Rome for disregarding the
Padroado and so did not cede the jurisdiction to Thomas de Castro. Instead, they
appointed Fr. Joseph Vas as the Vicar Forane of Canara and he was asked not to
submit to Bishop Castro unless he showed the letter of appointment. Fr. Joseph
Vaz was a saintly man, worked as a zealous missionary and he submitted to Bishop
Christians during the time of Hyder Ali and Tippu Sultan
In the eighteenth century when Bednore
rulers became weak, Hyder Ali captured Bednore and then the factory of the
Portuguese at Mangalore and renamed it as Couriel (fort of the king). Hyder Ali
had respect for the Christians and Fr. Joakim Manuel Miranda was a friend of
Hyder. However, Christians in general hated him for they had to pay heavy tax
for king’s treasury. Later the British captured Couriel and the Christians
helped the British by giving them rice, vegetables and money. When Tippu came to
power, he decided to come heavily upon the Christians.
captivity (1784-1799): During the time of Tippu there were at least 27 churches
and a Seminary in Canara. Tippu ordered that all the Churches be demolished and
the property of Christians be taken to Srirangapattanam. Accordingly nearly
40,000 people were taken as captives to Mysore from South Canara through the
Jamalabad fort route. A number of people died on the way due to hunger, disease
and ill treatment by the soldiers. Those who resisted were thrown down from the
Jamalabad Islam. Those who resisted the brutish behavior of the soldiers were
tortured by cutting off their noses and ears and paraded in the city. Only after
the death of Tippu, in 1799, the Christians returned, only to find that their
property had been confiscated. Christians started to build the churches and by
1815 most of the churches were rebuilt.
Mangalore under the Varapoly Carmelites
When the political situation in Portugal was in turmoil, Msgr Antonio Carvalho
arrived at Goa without being consecrated as Bishop. So many parishes in
South Canara did not accept the leadership of Carvalho but submitted to the
Vicar Apostolic of Verapoly. The parishes in Mangalore were devided into two
groups. To ward off this sad state, Mangalore Christians under the leader of Fr.
Joachim Pius Noronha, requested the Holy See to establish Mangalore as a
separate Vicariate. Conceding to their request, Holy See appointed Rev. Hynes; a
Capuchin to be the Vicar Apostolic but the Carmelites opposed this appointment.
Finally, on 17th February 1845 Pope established Mangalore as a
separate Vicariate and sent Msgr Bernadine, a Carmelite, as the Pro-Vicar
Apostolic of Mangalore. After him, Bp Michel Antony and Bp Mary Ephrem looked
after the spiritual well being of Mangalore Catholics. All the three Bishops
gave special attention in training the local clergy. Mary Ephem was instrumental
in bringing the Cloistered Carmel and the Tertiaries (Apostolic Carmel sisters)
Jesuits in Mangalore
During the regime of Carmelites, the Mangalorean Christians constantly sent
memorandums to the Holy See to send Jesuits to Mangalore to start Institutions
for higher education. So after the death of Bp Mary Elphem, Rome studied the
situation and handed over the Mangalore mission to the Jesuits of Naples who
reached Mangalore on 31st December 1878 under the leadership of Msgr
Nicholas Pagani. Two more Jesuits from Bombay joined the original group of six
among whom Bishop Pagani, Rev. Augustus Muller, Rev. Angelo Maffei and Rev.
Urban Stein are famous.
Formation of the Diocese
During the tenure of Msgr Pagani, Mangalore
became the field of hectic activity. He established St.Joseph’s Seminary, St.
Aloysius College, Fr. Muller’s Hospital, St. Joseph’s Work Shop, Codialbail
Press and orphanages. On November 25, 1885, Msgr Pagani was consecrated as
Bishop at Cathedral and on January 25, 1887, Mangalore was declared an
Mangalore under the local Bishops
Pope Pius XI
divided the Diocese in 1923 and appointed Fr. Valerian D’Souza, one trained in
St. Joseph’s Seminary, as the first native Bishop on February 28, 1928.
Victor R. Fernandes succeeded Bishop Valerian in 1931 and reigned over Mangalore
for 24 years. He gave priority for the primary education and Sunday Catechism.
During his tenure, religious orders of Olivet Brothers, Ursulines, and Bethany
Sisters were established. He built the presbytery for the retired priests. He
was succeeded by
Bishop Basil Peris and Bishop Raymond D’Mello succeeded him for short
Basil Salvadore D’Souza was appointed in 1965 and the Diocese is indebted to
him for the present progress. Bidar
was taken over by the Diocese under the leadership of Bishop Basil.
He took bold steps for the renewal of liturgy and implementing the
directives of Vatican 2 documents. Regular
pastoral visits kept him in touch with the needs of the people in 140 parishes
and 25 mission stations. He spent
himself for the Diocese and went to his eternal reward on September 5, 1996.
May his soul rest in peace.
Christianity is strongly rooted in Mangalore, and has a great influence in the
socio-cultural and religious life of people.
Mangalore is a center of education and people of various faiths live in