Basilica of the Holy Rosary, Bandel

The Basilica of the Holy Rosary (commonly known as Bandel Church) is one of the oldest Christian churches in West Bengal, India. Situated in Bandel, Hooghly district of West Bengal, it stands as a memorial to the Portuguese settlement in Bengal. Founded in 1599, it is dedicated to Nossa Senhora do Rosário, Our Lady of the Rosary. It is also a parish church, part of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Calcutta.[1] It is one of the most prominent historical churches in West Bengal as well as in India.

Bandel Church
The Basilica of the Holy-Rosary, Bandel
The façade of the Bandel Church
LocationBandel, West Bengal
DenominationRoman Catholic
StatusMinor basilica
ArchbishopThomas D'Souza

History edit

Our Lady of Happy Voyage Shrine, rooftop Bandel Basilica.
Statue of Mother Mary (Nossa Senhora do Rosário, Our Lady of the Rosary) with Jesus at the church.

…the Portuguese church, which is now the great sight of modern Bandel. This, the oldest Christian place of worship in Bengal, India, was founded in 1599, the year in which Queen Elizabeth sanctioned the establishment of the East India Company. It was burnt in the sack of Hooghly by the Moors in 1632, but the keystone with the date 1599 was preserved and built into the gate of the new church erected by John Comes de Soto in 1661. It is dedicated to Nossa Senhora di Rosario and contains a monastery once occupied by Augustinian friars, the last of whom died in 1869… Some 380 bigghahs of land, out of the 777 granted rent-free by Shah Jehan, are still enjoyed… Every November the church is thronged with pilgrims during the Novena of Notre Dame de Bon Voyage.[2]

Cotton, H.E.A (1909)

Around the middle of the 16th century, the Portuguese began using Bandel as a port. During or around 1571, they were given permission by Akbar, the Mughal emperor, to build a town in Hooghly. As they began settling around the area, their priests began to baptise the natives — by 1598, Catholics in Hooghly numbered around five thousand, including natives and mixed races.

In 1579, the Portuguese built a port on the banks of the Hooghly, as well as a fort named Fort Ugolim, and enlisted the services of a band of Augustinian friars, then the largest religious body in Goa. The following year, Captain Pedro Tavares obtained the emperor's full permission to preach the Catholic faith publicly, and erect churches. Thus the Bandel Church came to be constructed in 1599.[3][4]

This first church was burnt down during the sacking of Hooghly by the Moors in 1632. A newer church, constructed by Gomez de Soto (also spelt John Comes de Soto), was built over the ruin in 1660. The keystone of the older church can still be seen on the eastern gate of the monastery, bearing the date 1599.[4][5]

On November 25, 1988, Pope John Paul II declared the sanctuary a minor basilica.[6]

Layout edit

A ship's mast stands in front of the church; it was presented to the church by the captain of a vessel that had encountered a storm in the Bay of Bengal, whose rescue was attributed to Mary's intercession. The church has three altars, several tombstones, a pipe organ, and a shrine to Mary.

References edit

  1. ^ "Calcutta Archdiocese : HOWRAH & HOOGLY DEANERY". The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Calcutta. Retrieved 2014-08-26.
  2. ^ Cotton, H.E.A., Calcutta Old and New, 1909/1980, pp 820-821, General Printers and Publishers Pvt. Ltd.
  3. ^ Datta, Rangan (9 January 2011). "Next Weekend You Can Be At Bandel". The Telegraph Kolkata. Archived from the original on January 16, 2011. Retrieved 6 February 2014.
  4. ^ a b Nicholas J. Santoro (2011). Mary In Our Life: Atlas of the Names and Titles of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and Their Place In Marian Devotion. iUniverse. pp. 379–380. ISBN 978-1-4620-4022-3.
  5. ^ "Bandel Church: Description". Hooghly district official website. Retrieved 2014-08-26.
  6. ^ "Basilica Shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary, Bandel". Retrieved 2014-08-26.

External links edit

22°55′08″N 88°23′43″E / 22.9190°N 88.3952°E / 22.9190; 88.3952