St. Thomas Cathedral - The first Anglican Church in Mumbai

Write Comment     |     E-Mail To a Friend     |     Facebook     |     Twitter     |     Print
By Dr. Eugene DSouza, Moodubelle
Bellevision Media Network

Mumbai, 12 January 2011: One of the important landmarks in the heart of Mumbai - the Flora Fountain is the tower of one of the earliest Anglican churches in Mumbai, St. Thomas Cathedral near the Horniman Circle built in 1718. The St. Thomas Cathedral was erected to meet the spiritual needs and to improve the moral standards of the growing British settlement in and around Mumbai. The foundation stone for the church was laid by Gerald Aungier, the first governor of Mumbai in 1672.



However, after the death of Gerald Aungier, the work on the project was stopped and the building was abandoned for forty year until the arrival of  Richard Cobbe, a chaplain to the East India Company.  It was he who infused a new life was into the project in the second decade of the eighteenth century and the construction of the church was completed and was opened to the public on the Christmas Day in 1718. Though the church started functioning from 1718, the formal consecration and naming of the church took place after nearly 100 years. The church was named after St. Thomas, one of the twelve  disciples of  Jesus Christ who came to India to establish Christianity along the Malabar Coast in Southwestern India.



On completion of the church in 1718, the residing Reverend  took measures to establish a charity school in the premises of  the church for Protestant children.  As the school grew, it moved out to a nearby building and carried with the name “Cathedral and John Cannon School”.  Since the beginnings, the school has had a special connection with the church and continues to be its chief patron.


The cathedral building has undergone a number of changes since 1718.  After its consecration as a Cathedral in 1837, the original low bell-tower was replaced by a 146-foot high clock tower.  By 1865, the chancel apse had been extended, in Victorian Gothic style, to create a larger space for the choir and an organ room.  


In the 1860s, exquisite stained glass panels donated by the local parish were added above the altar.  In 1921, as part of an improvement programme, a reinforced concrete slab  replaced the pitched, tiled, wooden roof that covered the chancel apse.



As St. Thomas Cathedral has Grade I heritage Protection Status, the restoration project was initiated in 2001. One of the  significant part of the  restoration works involved replacing the deteriorated concrete slab with a roof of a profile similar to the original as built in 1865.  Works were also undertaken to reconstruct and restore the two ancillary buildings.  The stained glass in the church was also restored and the church grounds, long neglected, were also restored.


St. Thomas Cathedral is a rich repository of Victorian art in terms of carved marble monuments, sculpture and Victorian iron- works, choir stands and pews, stained glass, etc. The architecture of the Cathedral is in gothic style with some beautiful stained glasses. This Cathedral being a Protestant church, there are no statues of the saints or of Virgin Mary.









The beauty of  St. Thomas Cathedral  lay in the images carved out of marble and the memorial slabs which are really fascinating. The sidewalls and even the portico are lined with memorial slabs with moving elegies and inscriptions commemorating the former rulers of India.  The memorials are those of the officers-military as well as civil, soldiers, sailors, civil servants, diplomats, devoted husbands and loyal wives. The marble slabs are inscribed with elegies in memory of so and so, lovingly given by his brothers in this or that regiment. Walking down the side of the nave is like getting a glimpse of India’s colonial past, punctuated by the various wars that the British fought to initially capture and then to maintain control over the Jewel in the Crown in the crown of the far flung British Empire.




Comments on this Article
Stanley J Prashad, santacruz east Sun, May-24-2015, 5:11
Lived in mumbai all my life. I am interested in knowing the history of churches in mumbai. Through google I got a glimpse of rich history but would like to visit the churches and get the true visual of their glorious past
Victor DSouza, Moodubelle Thu, January-13-2011, 12:53
Thanks Dr. Eugene for this informative article. The marble sculptures are beautiful and gives a glimpse of those time. The cathedral is surely a monument.
Write your Comments on this Article
Your Name
Native Place / Place of Residence
Your E-mail
Your Comment   You have characters left.
Security Validation
Enter the characters in the image above
Disclaimer: Kindly do not post any abusive, defamatory, infringing, obscene, indecent, discriminatory or unlawful material or SPAM. reserves the right to block/ remove without notice any content received from users.
GTI MarigoldGTI Marigold
Anil Studio
Badminton Sports AcademyBadminton Sports Academy

Now open at Al Qusais

Veez Konkani IllustratedVEEZ Konkani

Weekly e-Magazine

New State Bank of India, Customer Service Point
Cool House ConstructionCool House Construction
Uzvaad FortnightlyUzvaad Fortnightly

Call : 91 9482810148

Your ad Here
Power Care
Ryan Intl Mangaluru
pearl printing

Konkani Literature World