Mangaluru: Rosario Cathedral-the Historical Landmark of ‘Rome of the East’ Celebrates 100 Years

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Mangaluru: Church of Our Lady of Rosary of Mangalore or Rosario Cathedral is a Roman Catholic Cathedral in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Mangaluru, dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary. It was the first Roman Catholic church in the Canara region. Since one year the Church has been getting ready for the big “100 Years” celebrations which will take place on Sunday 12 April 2015. In preparation for the great Centenary celebrations the Church has gone through some tremendous refurbishment and has got a new-look, with the inside of the Church being re-decorated, altar being painted, and much more.



Fr Urban Stein Sj- The First Parish Priest ( 31 Dec 1878- 21 Oct 1888)


Fr John Baptist Crasta- the present Parish Priest ( 26 June 2013- to date)

The centenary celebration of Rosario Cathedral is expected to showcase the historical and cultural significations of the Church and its people. The centenary of a Church in any Parish marks a very important milestone i its history. It is a time for celebration, not only for the Church itself but for the whole Parish community. Parishioners of this Church should owe a deep debt of gratitude to Fr Henry Buzzoni Sj who was responsible for the building of the present Church in 1915, and also to the people who supported him so generously in difficult times and built this magnificent and artistic Cathedral.

I feel that this is an occasion well worthy of celebration, and that it is an opportunity too, to illustrate that the work done by many organizations, committees and individuals is inextricably linked with the activities of the Church in its service of the community. Rosario Cathedral while looking forward to celebrate its 100 years in existence, is one of the rare and oldest Church in the area, having rich and sound heritage; precious and vivid meaningful traditions; and unique order of worship and rituals bind together in sacred and staunch faith. It could withstand so far so greatly with the immense grace and guidance of God Almighty.

A Church touches the lives of a person from their Baptism until their Funerals. A long procession of people have wind their way through the history of this Cathedral since it was built until the present day. If we look through the Parish Church records- Baptisms, First Confessions, Holy Communions, Confirmations, Marriages and Funerals- we will be reading the unfolding life history of a people. At the same time, we think of all who entered the house of God to worship and pray, bringing the work of their hands and minds, their joys and sorrows, their hopes and fears, their laughter and tears to God’s love and forgiveness. They departed to their life’s work each week having heard the word of God, having shared in His sacrifice and Sacraments, to go forth and serve the Lord, and one another. Yes, Rosario parish dedicated to Our Lady of Rosary is on the threshold of 100 years of its existence.

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This parish is known for its vibrant life manifested by the very many and variety of talents of the people. This has been the birth place of artists, musicians, dramatists, educationists, social workers, business people and politicians. Indeed it has been a mosaic of human and Christian life. The achievements of the people has truly spread to the four corners of the country and of the entire globe.The parish has given great importance to the education of the children and youth of this place- there is a school and also a College. Rosario has catered to the needs of all sections of the people without distinction of caste, creed and religion. The past students have been holding positions of importance in the society.

The parish pays much attention to the upliftment of the poor, the needy and the marginalized, helping them out in every way possible. The various Associations belonging to Rosario like the Catholic Sabha; Women’s Association; ICYM; YCS; Sunday School / Catechism; Alter Children’s Sodality; Choir Group; Small Christian Community; Legion of Mary; St. Vincent de Paul Society; Eucharistic Ministers; Marian Rose Sodality; and Altar Girls Society do their best to develop the economic and social conditions of the people.

As part of the forthcoming Centenary celebrations, the current Parish Priest Fr J B Crasta said, ” A day of prayer will be organised on April 9, which will begin at 5:30 pm with the Holy mass. The Bishop of Mangaluru, Dr Aloysius Paul D’Souza, will be the main celebrant. On April 10, Vocation day will be celebrated at 5:30 pm. On April 11, the parish day will be celebrated. The Bishop of Bareilly, Dr Ignatius D’Souza, will be the main celebrant. Thereafter, a felicitation programme will be held.”

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“On April 12, the concluding ceremony of the centenary celebrations will be held. Dr Aloysius will be the main celebrant and the Bishop of Udupi, Dr Gerald Isaac Lobo, will deliver the homily. Bishop of Belthangady Lawrence Mukkuzhy, Bishop of Belgaum Dr Peter Machado, Bishop of Gulbarga Dr Robert M Miranda, Bishop of Bellary Dr Henry D’Souza, Bishop of Shimoga Francis Serrao and Bishop of Bareilly Dr Ignatius D’Souza will con-celebrate the mass.”

Here is the message from the Parish Priest, Fr J B Crasta -” The Centenary of Rosario Cathedral is indeed a joyful event for all of us. It is an occasion to thank God for his many rich blessings on our parish community and to praise Him and glorify His name. It goes without saying that an apt and fitting celebration is necessary. Hence the entire parish had geared itself up right from the inauguration of the year- long programmes . An event of this type has brought people together and their faith in built up and love made fruitful”.

Fr Crasta further said, ” Rosario Cathedral is a symbol of our Faith and Unity. This is Bishop’s Official Church, this is Official Seat (Cathedral) of the Bishop. This huge church is not only the Center of the Diocese of Mangalore but also the Bishop’s official seat of exercising his authority. Bishop’s Consecration, Annual Blessing of Oils and all other important religious ceremonies are held here. The deceased Bishops’ burial ceremony was also held here and their tombs are found inside the church. Through this celebrations we want to unite people together, we want them to come close to God, we want them to believe in their faith, we want them to give priority to prayer and word of God-they should inculcate a devotion towards this Church. Through over 100 activities that we had planned during our Centenary year, we had united many parishioners/people together, and also to serve the society and community through programmes/services.”

“The Rosario Cathedral dome is the only one in the entire country. We want to make the Cathedral as a tourist spot so that people can come and visit the historical place which has 447 years of history, and also that they can pray here and receive blessings from the Rosary Queen. I would like to thank everyone for their support towards the Cathedral, and I look forward for the similar kind of help from our parishioners, well-wishers and public in the years to come. May Our Lady of the Rosary bless you all” said Fr Crasta.

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History of Rosario Cathedral Parish as narrated by Fr. Devadatta Kamath SJ :

The Church is also known as the Rosario Cathedral. It is one of the three – if not the – oldest churches in the Diocese, and Pietro delle velle, the Italian traveler who visited Mangalore in 1623 mentions it as the Church of the Holy Rosary at Bolar, the other two being Our Lady of Mercy of Ullal and of St. Francis of Assisi at Farangipet. Fr. Joseph Vas in 1681 mentions the structure at Bolar serving as a church known at the time as the Factory Church. The church was built by the Portuguese when they landed at Mangalore in 1568.

The Portuguese under Diego de Silveira won the battle at Mangalore on January 5, 1568, occupied the town and built the factories and godowns for storage of spices. They built the fort of St. Sebastian as also the church. The Cathedral now stands where the Portuguese church had stood once. The Royal stone emblem of the Portuguese King marking their landing in Mangalore lies at the entrance of the Cathedral. Blessed Joseph Vaz played an important role in the history of this church in 1681.


Rosario Church was desecrated and destroyed by Tipu Sulthan’s forces in 1784. After the faithful returned from their captivity they worked to rebuild the church. The work started in 1813. The English government gave a grant of Rs. 4,000 to rebuild both the churches – here and St. Milagres. On April 16, 1850 the church was raised to the rank of a cathedral by Bishop Ephrem ODC (See Vol I P) Fr. Urban Stein SJ, German, was the first parish priest on the arrival of the Jesuits (1879-1888). The first Episcopal Ordination witnessed in the old church was of Mgr. Nicolas Marie Pagani on October 25, 1885.

It was in 1910 that Fr. Henry I. Buzzoni SJ, Parish priest, demolished the entire structure of the old Cathedral and commenced work on the present day spacious and magnificent edifice worthy of its status as a cathedral. Br. Divo SJ was the architect. This would be the only church in the Diocese with a majestic dome covering the entire sanctuary. In those years the Cross on the dome was lit every night serving as a beacon to the seafarers. Bishop Perini, the third and last Jesuits bishop, too was ordained in the Church on December 4, 1910. The main altar was consecrated by him on April 3, 1924 when he was the Administrator Apostolic. Fr. Buzzoni also erected a belfry tower and installed four bells, imported from Italy.In 1851, the Church of Our Lady of Rosary, Mangaluru, was declared a Cathedral. The formal dedication of the Cathedral was done in 1915 by Bishop Paul Perini of Managlore (1910-28).

The original parish has given rise to several parishes in the course of time perhaps Urva is the first, carved out in 1865, Kulur 1888, Bejai 1912, Bendur 1914, Cascia 1935, Derebail 1939 and Thannirbavi 1950. The schools in the Parish have a history too. Already in 1858 Christian (Della Salle) Brothers started St. Mary’s School, later known as Rosario School, now Management college. The sisters of St. Joseph of Apparition opened a school for girls in 1859 at St. Ann’s grounds. When the Congregation shifted to Cannanore, the Carmelite Tertiaries (later A.C.‘s) took over the School, presently the A.C. ‘s run the colleges of Education as well as Schools for Girls.

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