History

The Cathedral in the year 1910 flanked by the Fort Convent on the left and Cathedral House on the right.
The Cathedral in the year 1910 flanked by the Fort Convent on the left and Cathedral House on the right.

The story behind every masterpiece can always be broken down into individual chapters, and each chapter tells a unique and compelling narrative. We consider the Church to be that masterpiece, and the “Holy Name Cathedral” is simply one of the unique chapters that speaks of God’s redemptive work in this world.

107 years ago, there existed a Fort Chapel in Medows Street which had been the centre of Catholic life here since 1767. It was a place of worship for many, even those who dwelt outside the Fort District. Soon, this little Chapel was unable to accommodate the large congregation that attended the Sunday Masses. The then Archbishop, Theodore Dalhoff, felt the need to secure a site for a new Church, school and residence in an area that would be in keeping with the dignity of the church and was also away from the hustle-bustle and noise of the busy thoroughfare that was Medows Street.

The Archbishop, accordingly, entered into negotiations with the “Bombay Improvement Trust”. The first reference to this is contained in a letter dated March 1, 1900. Several difficulties were raised by the Trust before the Archbishop finally secured three contiguous building sites on Wodehouse Road - an aggregate area of 4,642 square yards - on which the Fort Convent, the Cathedral and the Cathedral House now stand.

Archbishop Dalhoff then employed the services of Mr. W.A. Chambers, an established architect of the firm of Messrs. Gostling, Chambers and Fritchley. The architect’s plans showed three buildings, simple yet formal in style: the Church in the centre, the School on the north side and the residence for the clergy on the south side. The plan was approved by the Trust on November 21, 1901. Less than a year later, the foundation stone was laid by Archbishop Dalhoff on July 9, 1902. On January 15, 1905 the Church of the Holy Name was blessed and opened to public worship.

On January 1, 1942 the Parish Church of the Holy Name was raised to the status of a “Pro-Cathedral” by the Decree issued by Archbishop Thomas Roberts. The further elevation to a full-fledged Cathedral was granted by Decree dated March 3, 1964 of the Sacred Congregation of Propagation of the Faith. The consecration was held on November 28, 1964 to coincide with the XXXVIII International Eucharistic Congress.

Today, the Cathedral continues to be the Seat of the Archbishop and is the ‘Mother Church’ of the Archdiocese. It is home to a vibrant and dedicated Parish community that endeavours, with the aid of its priests, to fulfill the ‘vision and mission’ it has adopted.

There have been alterations and additions over time, in keeping with necessary changes and improvements. The Cathedral has been granted the status of a Heritage Building (1998), which means that it is now deemed an architectural treasure not just for the Catholics who worship here, but also for the city.

(Referenced from: Cathedral of the Holy Name, Bombay (1905 – 2005) by Cardinal Simon Pimenta)