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Please feel free to contact me if you are visiting St. Francis Xavier, I will be delighted to meet you personally if at all possible.

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, . Jansoone was appointed as the parish priest of St. Francis Xavier Church. Fr. 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, . 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:

    Smith, Russell W.   “Sex Seen (by Some) in Films by Disney.”
    Austin American-Statesman.   8 September 1995   (p. D1).

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