A Brief History of the Cathedral

CHRONOLOGY OF ST. FRANCIS DE SALES CATHEDRAL, NAGPUR

Bernadine D’Souza

For years, the idea of building a new Church in Nagpur remained wishful thinking. Fr. Superior [Fr. J. Thevenet] msfs was in Nagpur and encouraged to begin work on the Church.


1879 - The decision was made. Plans were designed by Bishop Tissot msfs and Fr. J. Thevenet. It would be 100 feet by 30 feet, in Gothic style with 3 naves.


Sept. 1879 - Foundations were started, supervised by Fr. J. Thevenet

29th Jan. 1880 - Foundation stone was blessed


1881 - Bishop Tissot exerted himself in finding funds for the building. He knocked on all doors, even of Protestants, for alms in the hope of completing the Church.

1882 - The work, began with enthusiasm, was held up for lack offunds.

1883 - Fr. Dunoyer msfs from Savoy joined Fr. J. Thevenet and both worked together on the Church Building.

1884 - When the naves were almost completed, Fr. Thevenet left the work in the hands of Fr. Dunoyer.


24th Oct. 1886 4.00pm – Solemn Blessing of the 2 bells, gifts sent from France by the MSFS Congregation – both weighing 8 and 4 maunds respectively were christened “Immaculate”.

25th Oct. 1886 Red letter day for Nagpur – Solemn Blessing of the Church by Fr. J. Thevenet as delegate of the Bishop, followed by a Pontifical Mass at 11.00am. The 2 bells were hoisted up the steeples, from that time they sing their melodious “Re-La” and charm even the least Catholic ears.


Within a year the Church became a Cathedral

20th Nov. 1887 Fr. Riccaz msfs was appointed the First Bishop of Nagpur, Consecrated and Enthroned in the incomplete building.

16th Dec. 1888 Bishop Riccaz convened the First Diocesan Synod.


It took years to complete the Church.

1887 to 1891 The plastering of the walls went on.

1897 and 1909 - Fr. Foulex msfs, Vicar General, completed the two Bell Towers.

5th Feb. 1905 - Enabled by a parish subscription one of the towers was adorned with a Clock.

1932 - A marble Main Altar was put up by Fr. S. Fagiano msfs. Other extensive repairs were carried out in the same year by Fr. A. Larrivaz msfs.

The bronze statue of Christ the King, a gift of Mr. Callaco was enthroned in front of the Cathedral.


1935 - Fr. Fagiano built a fine presbytery.

1947 - A stained glass window representing St. Francis de Sales was imported from France and installed by Fr. George D’Souza msfs. He also later built the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes near the Cathedral.

In 1952, the Cathedral was handed over to the Secular Diocesan Clergy.

1981 - In keeping with Vatican Council II, the Main Altar was redesigned facing the congregation. The Pulpit and Tabernacle were also redesigned. The complete interior of the Cathedral was given a face lift.

1989 - The complete exterior of the Cathedral was replastered.

Sept. 2010 to Jan. 2011 - Extensive repairs and renovations carried out to the Cathedral in its 125th Year as listed below:-

1. The entire Roof was replastered and water proofing done and covered with tin sheets.

2. The doors and windows have all been replaced.

3. The Electric Wiring has been replaced completely along with a new Sound System.

4. The Fans and Lights too have all been replaced.

5. The Flooring has been remodeled.

6. All the Pillars have been strengthened.

7. The Back Drop has been remodeled in keeping with the mystery of our Faith.

8. Keeping up with modern times a Screen Projector has been installed.


23rd January 2011. On the eve of the feast of St. Francis de Sales the Cathedral was Blessed and Rededicated by Archbishop Abraham Viruthakulangara.

Historical Dates & Events

  • July 11, 1887: Established as Diocese of Nagpur from the Diocese of Vizagapatam
  • September 19, 1953: Promoted as Metropolitan Archdiocese of Nagpur

Leadership

Archbishops of Nagpur (Latin Rite)

  • Archbishop Abraham Viruthakulangara (January 17, 1998 – April 19, 2018)
  • Archbishop Leobard D’Souza (July 1, 1975 – January 17, 1998)
  • Archbishop Leonard Joseph Raymond (January 16, 1964 – February 1, 1974)
  • Archbishop Eugene D’Souza, M.S.F.S. (September 19, 1953 – September 13, 1963)

Bishops of Nagpur (Latin Rite)

  • Bishop Eugene D’Souza, M.S.F.S. (later Archbishop) (July 12, 1951 – September 19, 1953)
  • Bishop Louis-François Gayet, M.S.F.S. (February 1, 1934 – August 26, 1950)
  • Bishop François-Etienne Coppel, M.S.F.S. (June 22, 1907 – March 16, 1933)
  • Bishop Etienne-Marie Boneventure, M.S.F.S. (September 17, 1904 – March 12, 1907)
  • Bishop Jean-Marie Crochet (October 25, 1900 – June 6, 1903)
  • Bishop Charles-Félix Pelvat, M.S.F.S. (October 2, 1893 – July 23, 1900)