Mangaluru, April 13, 2015: The grand finale on April 12, 2015 was a day to remember. People in large number graced the occasion and were joined by several dignitaries from the religious and civil entities of the region in the evening.
The four and a half centuries old premier Parish of Mangalore proper, Rosario, embarked on it’s year long Centenary observance of the dedication (in 1915) of the magnificent Cathedral edifice, Sunday March 2, 2014. The solemn occasion began with the unveiling of the meaningful ’Centenary Logo’. The historic journey reached a fruitful end; the grand finale on Sunday April 12, 2015. As a run up to this great day celebrations and spiritual observances were held on April 9, 10 & 11, 2015 (see reports by ’mangaloretoday.com’). Over the past years Mangalore Today magazine has high lighted the vitality of this Cathedral and several Catholic themes around the region.
At 4.30 pm, a solemn mass was sung with Bishop of Mangalore Rev Dr.Aloysius P D’souza leading a large number of Bishops and Priests. The theme of the Eucharistic mass was "The House of God". Dr Gerald Isaac Lobo delivered the homily, he said " Rosario’s history not only has influenced not only Mangaluru but the entire Chrstian region. The Bible says ’My temple will be called a house of prayer’ do not make it a den of thevies. In the Indian culture ’Devasthana’ is God’s abode. Rosario’s history is rich and it is without doubt an abode of God. We thank God for His goodness through this Cathedral over the years,"
A spectacular felicitation and cultural programme spanning Knannada, Konkani and English followed with Dr Aloysius Paul D’Souza as president. Dr Lawrence Mukkuzhy the bishop of Belthangady and Dr Ignatius D’Souza the bishop of Bareily were special guests. Msgr Dennis Moras, Sr Doreen D’Souza. Ursuline Superior general, Fr Denzil Lobo S J, Sr Lydia Fernandes. Apostolic carmel, Ms. Octavia Albuquerque the nanogenerian ex-MLC were the Chief guests. Ministers Ramanath Rai, MLA J R Lobo, MLC Ivan D’Souza, and secretary of diocese M P Noronha were the guests of honour. Dolphy D’Souza and John D’Silva the vice president and the secretary of parish pastoral council respectively were also on the dias as well as priests of the Rosario cathedral. The dynamic Parish Priest welcomed all present.
Rev Dr Lawrence Mukkuzhy of Belthangady Diocese said in his speech, "Cathedra is ’seat’ in latin, so this seat of bishop is paramount. Christian faith is nurtured in this region from this seat. Lakhs of people lived here after the establishment the parish and have given us a tradition of faith to last for centuries to come. A joyous day for us to celebrate the hundred fruitful years of this magnificent structure and take it to another hundred for our descendants."
Octavia Albuquerque former MLC a senior parishioner of Rosario inspite of weak health attended in a wheel chair, she thanked God blessings and wished the cathedral the best in future, she recalled how lakhs of people have passed through this cathedral. She expressed gladness that her son who now runs the tile works in the vicinity could donate 12,000 tiles to shelter the cathedral for another 100 years.
’‘Cathedra’, a souvenir on centenary celebrations was released by Dr Aloysius Paul D’Souza and Msgr Dennis Moras Prabhu the VG.
Msgr Dennis Moras Prabhu VG, described a version of the history of Rosario in his own way. His study on the history of Chrsitianity in the region has given him an individual insight. He exorted all to do good whatever the cause and shun all harm.
Bishop Dr Aloysius Paul D’Souza the chief patron of the cathedral was honoured by the parishioners.
Dr Aloysius Paul D’Souza his presidential address said, " This is my Bishop’s seat and coming here is a regular matter for me, it is my parish, it is my duty. The cathedral has had a special place the heart and developed unbounded faith. We have a sacred duty to convey this to the next generation as it was given to us from our forefathers without dilution. Mary our divine mother must be a companion of all time and reside with us at all times. When we celebrate the century of Most Holy Rosary Cathedral, it is an honour to the Queen of the Rosary known here as ’Rosario’."
Here Fr J B Crasta the parish priest was honoured for his great work in the short span of his appointment. He is the first of persons who worked for the jubilee year in a holistic way. Prof John D’Silva proposed vote of thanks.
A rare sound and light show the highlights of the history of Rosario compiled and directed by Vinod Gangolli was presented by a cross section of all ages drawn from the parishioners. it was indeed a fitting finale to a memorable grand finale.
It is fitting opportunity for a better look at some interesting aspects of history associated with ’Rosario Cathedral Edifice’. Mangalore or now called ’Mangaluru’:
Said to have been first established by Franciscans in the early 16th century. Centuries later, post captivity of the Tipu Sultan era (after 1799), the Rosario Church rose into being at its present location it is believed. A simple but vital church it got it’s first expansion in the year 1813. The church was declared a Cathedral in 1850. The building of the present magnificent edifice to match it’s status, commenced in 1910 when Jesuit Fr. Henry.Buzzoni was the Vicar (second term-1908-22), and its formal dedication was in 1915, while Bishop Paul Perini was the Bishop of Mangalore (1910-28), Jesuit Bro.Divo of Bombay was the architect, construction works continued for a few years even after it’s opening . The complex structure is made up of a series of matching arches - 40 major arches including 12 central arches with over a fifty sub-arches; the side verandah periphery has about 45 smaller arches. From a superficial stand point the overall shape is cruciform usually used for churches. Granite, Latrite, steel, red bricks, lime mortar and mud were the basic building materials in the early part of 1900s. Mangalore tiles and tiling materials in vogue are also used here for the roofing and so on. Wood is widely used in the roofing and the ornamental heavy carved doors are of solid wood - one main door, 8 side doors and a service door. The galleries above the main entrance and side wings were of high utility in past times, the baptistery, pulpit and a spacious sacristy give completeness to this Cathedral. Unfortunately the Bishops throne is not a permanent fixture as it used to be, even though the cathedral is the seat of the Bishop; since 1857, the Bishops traditionally reside a few miles away at Kodialbail. Most Bishops of Mangalore are buried behind the main alter, in the past many priests and people were buried in other portions of this church.
The dome of this Cathedral is a significantly unique structure resembling a mini St.Peter’s Basilica of the Vatican, heavy metal ribs and minor metal reinforcements, small red bricks and mortar, water proofed with local methods prevailing. In the early 1960s collections were made and the facade was renovated with a front portico. Further in 1992, 95, 2001 and 2011 face-lifts were done to improve the aesthetics and life of the structure. Over the last one year the Vicar Fr.J B Crasta and his able team have given an appreciable face lift to this cathedral. First the roofing was redone afresh with new tiles. The inner wooden ceiling is renewed. The outer walls have been strengthened and water proofed. All exterior surfaces have been scraped cleaned and well covered with protective and decorative paints. The sanctuary area and back drop have been recreated giving it symmetric and pleasant look and atmosphere. The parish members and many generous people have contributed the lakhs of rupees to enable a much needed renovation which does honour to all concerned and glory to God.
In times past when the sky line was more natural the dome of Rosario was very visible to approaching ships out at sea and a welcome land mark of Mangalore. The erection of such a large, stable and beautiful structure even before construction equipment existed is a marvel, most local residents have contributed in various ways specially hard labour. Vicar Stany Goveas (2006-13) arranged to do a great deal of art work in his tenure. This parish is particularly known for the roots here of Apostolic Carmel nuns (AC). Among the first batch of OCD - Carmelites Bl. Mariam Baouardy lived in the present neighbouring St.Ann’s convent from 1870-72, she is to be canonised in Rome on May 17, 2015 (See special feature in our Magazine March 2015 now on stands) .Ursuline Franciscan nuns (UFC), whose founder was the first parish priest of Rosario German Jesuit Fr.Urban Stein, the first Superior of the UFC Mother Nympha Fernandes was a parishioner of this Rosario. The Bethany founder and first parish priest of Bendur now the first Mangalurean officially on the path to sainthood Msgr. R F C Mascarenhas was ordained in Rosario in April 1900. There are several educational institutions around this parish, a formation house where young men are given an opportunity to discern their religious vocation also exists. The memory of a Portuguese Fort, where the factories and the first churches would have been, still lives on about a mile to the South called ‘haleye kote’ and ’batthery garden’ opposite the confluence -’aluve bagilu’ - of the rivers Nethravathi, Gurpur and the Arabian Sea, which has coined the Tulu language name of ’Kudla’ and ’Kodial’ in Konkani still in use for Mangalore. The recent discovery of a tomb stone bearing the name and coat of arms of a Portugese Captain of the Fort, ’Domingos de Mourao Cutinho’ and the date indicated ’April 30, 1629’ (see special Picture). According to historians it fairly supports the location of the early fort shown also in an old map.
The inscription seen above the main entrance pillars and portico reads “1568 – Queen of the Rosary Bless India – 1915”. This may be interpreted : The first ever Rosario church of the area (not necessarily this spot) was established in 1568 and the present visible edifice was dedicated in 1915 AD - now a century. Further, it is now 445 years since 1568 when the first Rosario church was established in the vicinity.
The Roman Catholic faith in Kanara grew from emigrant Konkanis of ’Saraswat’ origins - even at present the official language of this diocese is Konkani. Kanara Vicarate was established by the Holy See in December 1845. In 1878 the Vicarate of Mangalore came into the hands of the Jesuits of Venice and Fr. Urban Stein a German (his tomb is behind the main alter) was appointed the first resident parish priest of Rosario Cathedral Parish which covered an area of more than half of the present city on the Western side, in 1852 the figure of Parish members is stated to be 8240 with 12 schools. In 1866 the first parish division took place with the formation of Urwa, followed at regular intervals. Mangalore became an independent diocese on January 25, 1887 and in 2012 it gave space to Udupi diocese. Presently there are several Catholic parishes in present Mangalore city proper : Milagres,Urwa, Kulur, Bendur, Bijey, Angelore, Valencia, Cascia, Jeppu and so on. Rosario area since old times, houses many Government, Corporate, Commercial and trading establishments, there is now a rapid growth making it a place for greater development in the near future.