‘God As An Artist & Creator’ Renovated St Aloysius Chapel Paintings & Museum Inaugurated
Mangaluru: Saturday, 16 February 2019 was a great day in the history of 139 years of St Aloysius Institutions run by the Jesuit Priests, when the Re-Dedication of World Class St Aloysius Chapel Paintings by Italian artist Antonio Moscheni, after Extreme-Makeover/Restoration was inaugurated, followed by yet another inauguration of the ‘ALOYSEUM’- a Renovated Unique & Pride Museum of St Aloysius Institutions.
The chapel of St Aloysius College of Mangaluru was transformed into an admirable work of art by the Italian Jesuit Brother, Antonio Moscheni SJ. He was a proficient painter trained in the famed Accademia Carrara in Bergamo, Italy. The Chapel was built by Jesuit Missionaries in 1880 and its interiors painted by Moscheni in 1899, during the Mangaluru Mission in 1878. The Italian Jesuits played an important role in education, health, and social welfare of the Mangalorean Catholic community and built the St. Aloysius College in 1880, St Aloysius Chapel in 1884, and many other institutions and churches.
The interior of the chapel decorated with paintings by Antonio Moscheni (1854 –1905) that cover almost all of the walls, which is unusual in chapels in India. The paintings are preserved by a recognized board of the nation which maintains and restores all historic artifacts. The central row of paintings on the ceiling depicts the life of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, to whom the college and chapel are dedicated.
Yet another milestone in the history of St Aloysius Institutions, Mangaluru was the launching of the Renovated Unique and Pride of this Jesuit Institutions Museum “ALOYSEUM”. The Museum was started in 1913 by the Italian Jesuit Fr Chiapi with minerals, herbarium and a collection of Roman coins, a gift of the Collegio Vieta Italy. It has now been shifted from ‘Red Building’ which was located in the premises of St Aloysius High School, to its present location opposite to the Chapel which gives easy access to visitors especially those coming to see the chapel paintings. The Renovated Museum was designed by William James from Bengaluru, who is an interior designer and the display of the exhibits has been planned and executed by Museum Curator Ms Kavitha of Mangaluru who has a Masters in Archaeology and a diploma in Museology.
Following the introduction of the event by compere Ms Reema Fernandes, a professor in the Chemistry Dept of St Aloysius College, Rev Fr Dionysius Vaz SJ delivered the welcome address, during which he thanked all the donors and well-wishers who have supported the St Aloysius Institutions all these years, and for their contributions made towards the restoration of St Aloysius Chapel paintings. During the inter-religious prayer led by Fr John Lang Bosco-Finance Officer of St Aloysius PUC, prayers comprised of Bhajans, and reading of verses from the Bible and Bhagavad Gita.
The multimedia presentation of the Chapel Paintings and Museum through Audio/Video was done by Fr Felix Victor SJ- In-Charge of Chapel who briefed about the paintings, while Fr Leo D’souza SJ-the former Rector of St Aloysius Institutions and the Man behind the Museum gave an elaborate description of the Museum.
Nilabh Sinha-the Principal director, INTACH Conservation Institutes (ICI), Art & Material Heritage Division (New Delhi) unveiled the commemorative plaque, and in his speech, said, “It was indeed a privilege for us to undertake this restoration work of the paintings. I feel so overwhelmed when I look at the paintings. We had done thorough documentation work on the art before we started the restoration work, and we feel proud that we did our job well in restoring the world-class art. Even though these paintings will be preserved for the next 50 to 60 years, but we will come down and check on these paintings in twenty years from now”.
Nilabh Sinha was honored during the occasion for his dedication, commitment and sincere work in completing the paintings restoration work in due time. Blessing of the Chapel was done by Rev Dr Francis Serrao SJ, the Bishop of Shivamogga Diocese, and in his message, the Bishop said, “The interior of this Chapel is filled with artistic and splendour paintings. The paintings done by Brother Antonio Moscheni was not because of his passion but done as a mission. These paintings are indeed a great contribution to this historic Chapel. Any person who enters this Chapel will take back home great memories, which will last forever. This Chapel filled with these world-class paintings has attracted a large number of visitors since this chapel is deeply soul satisfying”.
Generous and magnanimous hearts always come to the aid of much-needed accomplishments. The Chapel needed to be restored, and the Museum renovated. The exorbitant expenses would not have been met without the generosity of many individuals. A bevy of people were honoured during the occasion for their tremendous contribution towards the Chapel painting restoration and also the museum, namely- Fr Prashanth Madtha SJ, Fr Leo D’souza SJ, Fr Christopher Xavier, James David, Ms Gladys Cutinha-wife of Late Michael Cutinha), Ms Shirley Sequeira-W/o late Gilbert Sequeira, Ms Joyce Saldanha-W/o late Ray Saldanha, John Chandran, Gopal Gowda, Kavitha, among many others. Ms Silvana Rizzi from Milan in Italy, the great grandniece of the painter Antonio Moscheni was also honoured, and in her speech, she praised Mangaluru a lot, and that she was thrilled to be part of this history. Fr Pradeep Anthony SJ-Director at St Aloysius College read out the names of the contributors.
Following the formal ceremony at the Chapel, the audience moved to take part in the inauguration of the renovated “Aloyseum” museum in a procession led by the Kudumi dance performers. Ms Silvana Rizzi inaugurated the Museum along with other dignitaries, and Rev Dr Francis Serrao SJ blessed the Museum. I end this column with a prayer to Bro Moscheni- “We pray with hearts filled with gratitude for the ingenious hands of Bro Antonio Moscheni, through which such a beautiful and devotional piece of Art, in the form of this Chapel. The untiring efforts of Br Moscheni remain as an eternally inspiring endeavour for all who come to visit this Chapel. May Eternal light always shine upon His soul”.
For elaborate details/photos of the Restored St Aloysius Chapel Paintings and the Renovated “Aloyseum” Museum click on the links below :