A Glorious past is the way to a glorious future. If so, it is our primary responsibility to know about the origin of our parish, the Priests responsible for its origin, their aims and goals, their toils and struggles to build this parish. To bring home these features, a short summary of our parish history is given in the lines that follow.

Rev. Fr. Chevalier was the first parish priest of St. Francis Xavier Church. The Church in 1851 was situated on a site measuring 550 square feet. Mrs. Zulime Watkins, a French Catholic and the widow of an English Commander, Capt. Watkins, sold the land to Fr. Chevalier for a sum of Rs. 1,000/-. After the death of Bishop Charbonnaux, Fr. Chevalier was appointed Bishop of Mysore in 1873. He died in 1880 and laid to rest in St. Patrick’s Church, Bangalore.

In 1894, Fr.P. Jansoone was appointed as the parish priest of St. Francis Xavier Church. Fr. J.B. Servanton, born on 11th September 1865, ordained on 21st September 1889, was working hard in Shimoga and Hassan with great missionary zeal, was appointed as assistant parish priest to St. Francis Xavier’s Parish to work under Fr Jansoone. Fr Servanton showed keen interest in the development of the Parish. Eventually in 1898, he was appointed as the parish priest where he worked day and night. The little parish of a thousand Catholics soon grew with him into fifteen thousand Catholics. It comprised the present parishes of Holy Ghost, St. James, Marianapalya, St. John the Evangelist, M.R. Palyam, Ascension Church, St. Mary Town, St. Pius X, Kamanahalli, Good Shepherd, Murphy Town, Our Lady of Lourdes, Whitefield and a portion of Christ the King, Malleswaram. In 1909, he erected a chapel in honour of St. Rock, as a protection against the bubonic plague of 1898. St. Rock is the patron of the plague stricken and confided to his care the whole of the parish.

The old church was becoming inadequate due to growing population.

In 1905, the cross from the tower of the old church fell down which he considered to be outward sign to build a new church. The foundation stone for the new church was laid in 1911. To raise funds Fr. Servanton tapped every source by personal appeals, holding concerts and dramas etc. He went with a begging bowl from door to door. Finally, his dream was realized after 21 years of toil. The church was opened on the 26th May 1932. In 1940, Bangalore was erected as a separate diocese, and St. Francis Xavier’s Church was chosen as a Cathedral. Most Rev. Dr. Thomas Pothacamury was the first Indian Bishop of Bangalore, appointed in 1942. The Cathedral was consecrated by him on 24thJanuary 1948.

The structure is completely made of granite stones with an arched concrete roofing covered with Mangalore tiles. The nave of the church measures 160’ in breadth and the wings have galleries measuring 16x28’.

The sanctuary is 36’ square. Behind the altar, a semi circular place about 18’ in radius servers to accommodate priests who assist at the service held in the Cathedral. Next to this semi-circular place is the main point of attraction. The facades include two belfries which for lack of fund have not been raised to the heights originally planned. Until the towers are raised further up by one more bay, we cannot say that the structure is complete. Though massive pillars occupy a good bit of space, the church can accommodate about 5000 people.

In terms of money, the cathedral had cost just about Rs. 1, 00,000. The cathedral parish had a Catholic population of about 21,000 parishioners four decades ago.

During the 50 years of his pastoral service. Fr. Servanton worked in the Lord’s vineyard without taking a single holiday and never went back to see his home land. He loved his flock and gave generously to the poor. Fr. Servanton died at the age of 83, on 25th March 1948, after a heroic life he was laid to rest in his own Church at St. Francis Xavier’s Cathedral.

The First Plenary Council of India was held in the Cathedral Parish hall in 1950. The Corporation of the City of Bangalore honored him after his death, by naming the circle in front of St. Germain’s High School as Father Servanton Circle in 1961.

The Parish Priests of St. Francis Xavier’s Cathedral and their endeavors:

  1. Rev. Fr. Servanton (1898-1948): Built the existing St. Francis Xavier Cathedral, St. Rock’s Chapel, St. Anthony’s Primary School, and St. Rock’s Middle School.
    He introduced the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Catholic Workers’ Association, and built small chapel attached to the parish in various places.
  2. Mgr. I.B. Pinto (1948-1953): Built Xavier’s Parish Hall, Xavier’s Presbytery ground floor and the existing St. Anthony’s Boy’s School ground Floor.
  3. Mgr. F.X. Celestine (1954-1955): Maintained status quo.
  4. Rev. Fr. Antony Sequeira (1955-1959): Introduced P.A. System with Horn Speaker, inside the church; Flower- decorated Car Procession of St. Francis Xavier statue outside the Church compound on St. Francis Xavier’s feast day; Corpus Christi procession outside the Church.
  5. Rev. Fr. J.D. Pinto (1959-1965): installed 2 Box Speakers in the Church and drop lights in side bays.
  6. Rev. Fr. Thomas Jabamalai (1965-1972): Installed new benches in the right wing and half the area of the centre wing of the Church; extended the right side of Xavier Hall for dining purposes; Furniture for Parish office; built a compound wall for the presbytery, opened the Youth Centre and Basket Ball Court; altar backdrop cloth screen, main Crucifix and column speakers for every alternate pillar inside the Church.
  7. Msgr William D’Mello (1972-1977): Renovated and reinforced the exterior joints of the entire Church Structure; extended the right wing of Xavier’s Parish Hall, and replaced tiles with sheets; extended and raised the height of the Cathedral Youth Centre; replaced old wiring and bulbs with conduit pipe wiring system with marble backdrop as it stands today. Pews for the left wing and for the remaining centre portion of the church; added extra class rooms to the first floor on the left wing of St. Anthony Boy’s school. He was consecrated as the first Bishop of Karwar on 29th April, 1977.
  8. Fr. Paul Kinatukara (1978-1984): Completed first floor of St. Anthony’s Boys’ School (Centre and right wing); built St. Anthony’s Boys’ High School; completed the first floor of Xavier Presbytery; installed ceiling fans in the church; bore well water supply to all the schools and presbytery in the church compound.
  9. Msgr. Ignatius Pinto (1984-1987): Before taking charge of St. Francis’s Cathedral as Parish Priest, he was principal of St. Aloysius Junior College, and built a separate block for the college and also stood for Corporation election. Held the installation of Most Rev. Dr. Alphonsus Mathias as Archbishop of Bangalore in 1986. Maintained status quo of the Cathedral parish and was later appointed first Bishop of Shimoga and consecrated on 31st January 1989.
  10. Rev. Fr. P Balaiah (1987-1994): Repaired the leaking portion of the Church dome and re-plastered it; opened a medical centre; introduced Christmas gifts such as sarees and children’s dress for very poor people of our parish; celebrated St. Francis Xavier feast with grand car procession outside the Church, Covering a large surrounding area as is customary now; reintroduced summer vacation camp in Cathedral youth Centre, erected new flag posts.
  11. Rev. Fr. Felix Pinto (1994-1995): Improved the overall disciple in the parish
  12. Rev. Fr. Francis Martin (1995-1997): Enhanced cosmetic appeal of the Blessed Sacrament Altar as it is existing today; Christmas charity and free note books for poor children; encouraged youth activities.
  13. Rev. Fr. D.S. Arokiaswamy (1997-2003): Leveled church compound; built Fr. Servanton Community Hall; extended the left wing of Xavier Hall for dining purpose; Christmas charity and free note books for poor children of our parish; fixed grilled fencing on church compound wall. Contributed in organization of Former Archbishop Ignatius Pinto installation ceremony and his Sacerdotal Golden Jubilee Celebration held in the Cathedral grounds.
  14. Rev. Fr. John Solomon (2003-2009): As the ceiling of main structure of the church was leaking badly in many areas,
    Fr. Solomon took immediate action to concrete the entire church roof and successfully completed 80% of the work in a short time.
    He renovated St. Anthony’s Chapel which was in a dilapidated state, introduced evening mass in the chapel every Tuesday in English, Kannada and Tamil. He also enhanced the beauty of the Grotto with a garden surrounding it.

    As per the request of many parishioners, a tar road for the convenience of people and for the easy movement of vehicles was laid before Christmas 2005.

    During the frequent power failures the church compound and its premises were in darkness. Solar lights in 3 different locations were installed to overcome this difficulty.

    He reintroduced the Corpus-Christ procession outside the church after it was discontinued for a several years.

    In a very grand and fitting manner he organized the installation of Most Rev. Bernard Moras on 17th September 2004, the present Archbishop of Bangalore who succeeded Most Rev. Dr. Ignatius Paul Pinto.
    On 6th April 2005 a solemn inter-religious memorial service was organized to pay tribute to the late Holy Father, Pope John Paul II in the church compound. The Memorial Service was attended by the Governor of Karnataka, the former Prime Minister of India Mr. Deve Gowda, State Chief Minister, Deputy Chief Minister and other dignitaries of the State Government and religious heads and their representatives.

    Yet another plus was the introduction of an orderly parking system inside the church compound, especially on Sundays and feast days.

    Hallmark achievements were:
    1. Re-Construction of the main dome.
    2. Laying a tar road with greenery on both sides, from the front gate to the rear gate.
    3. Completion of the two newly raised domes on the two towers.
    4. Re-plastering with new design all the interior domes with white chips and paints.
    5. Re-placing all window panes with imported stained glass (mysteries of the Rosary, general themes from the Bible).
    6. Top window panes were also replaced with attractive stained glasses.
    7. Modern chemical wash was done for church to remove the stains (outside and main altar portion).
    8. Erection of church Platinum Jubilee entrance Arch.
    9. Entire church flooring was changed by laying granite (white and red).
    10. As Manager and Correspondent of St. Anthony’s Boys’ School he made noteworthy improvements.
    11. New furniture was procured. Shelter for the School Quadrangle, new and modern toilet system for the boys both in middle and high school and to the staff. Students were given incentives to do better in studies. ‘Unaided’ staffs were put under the PF scheme with an update service system and with reasonable pay scale under ABE (Archdiocesan Board of Education).
    12. A rain harvest storage tank was constructed.
    13. Metal fencing was extended to protect the greenery on both sides.
    14. Apart from these construction works he has contributed much for the spiritual renewal in the Cathedral.
    15. He organized Eucharistic celebration during the year of the Eucharist and frequent mission preaching. Many broken families were united and irregular marriages were rectified as the result of his cancelling. He has helped many poor children for their studies. Medical assistance was provided for the sick and suffering. Prayer groups were encouraged. He has also won over many through his evangelization for the priestly vocation and religious life. Legion of Mary (Kannada and English) were started and renewed. Altar Boys’ sodality was strengthened. The devotion to St. Anthony and Sacred Heart was given importance.
    16. The climax of this Jubilee Celebration is the relic of St. Francis Xavier which was brought by our parish priest Very Rev. Fr. John Solomon on 13th May 2009 with the gracious consent of Most Rev. Dr. Filip Neri Ferrao, Archbishop of Goa and Daman. It was installed on 22nd May 2009 at St. Francis Xavier’s Altar.
  15. Msgr T Amruthraj (2009-2013): Beautified the church campus with interlocks, replaced the iron fences, provided fibre roof shelter to St. Anthony’s School quadrangle; He also enhanced the Altar with a Carved wooden Altar, Lectern, Ex Cathedra and celebrants Chairs. Fenced the Altar with wooden railings. Instlalled advanced sound systems, amplifiers, mixers and projectors inside the Church. He laid the foundation stone for the Adoration chapel at the CYC premises. He also catered to the spiritual needs of the people by encouraging various activities through the pious associations. He continued the Christmas charity for poor women and Free Notebooks for Poor students of the Parish. In his tenure, he celebrated his Sacerdotal Golden Jubilee.
  16. Rev Fr A. S. Anthonyswamy(2013 onwards): Renovated the Parish Office and systematized the Parish transactions, Installed Digital Daily Gospel Word Board and Parish Hoardings. He began Senior Citizen Club and Minority Cell in the Parish. Beautified the Church Campus and Presbytery with Green Flora. He was instrumental in celebrating the Centenary Jubilee of St. Anthony’s School. The spiritual initiative of praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet in the mornings and evenings has been successful in strengthening the Spiritual life of the parishioners. And continues to be a support from behind and a leader in front always in the spiritual life of the parishioners.

Former Archdiocesan Prelates

Most Rev. Dr. Charbonnaux
Most Rev. Dr. Chevalier
Most Rev. Dr. Maurice B.B.J. Despatures
Most Rev. Dr. Thomas Pothacamury
Consecrated the Cathedral
His Excellency D. Simon Cardinal Lourduswamy Introduced the Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in the Cathedral Church and Sisters of St. Anne’s of Chennai were given charge of the Adoration.
Most Rev. Dr. P. Arokiasamy
Most Rev. Dr. Alphonsus Mathias
Most Rev. Dr. Ignatius Paul Pinto
(First Archdiocesan Archbishop)
Most Rev. Dr. Bernard Moras
(1945-1873) (RIP)
(1873-1880) (RIP)
(1940-1942) (RIP)
(1943-1967) (RIP)
24th January 1948

(1971-1986) (RIP)

(17th September 2004 …)
A Brief History of the Archdiocese