THE BOMBAY SEMINARY: The Two Popes
Over the last sixty years, the magnificent yet humble Bombay Seminary has opened its doors and hearts to several visitors, guests, seminars, and programs. This ‘City on a green Hill’ has been an object of great curiosity and interest to all, serving as one of the premier institutions of the Archdiocese of Bombay. Among its visitors have been several Archbishops, Bishops, Priests, Seminary Professors, Rectors, and the lay folk from within the Archdiocese, India, and abroad.
But who can ever forget the enviable call of the two Popes – now Saints? – The building resounded with happiness, the spirit of which echoes to date. Through this article let’s hearken to this thrilling story of the storeys of the Bombay Seminary.
The Visit of St. Pope Paul VI – December 5, 1964
St. Paul VI, the ‘Pilgrim Pope’, made history when he visited Bombay, India to participate in the 38th International Eucharistic Congress from 2nd to 5th December 1964. He received during his stay people of all classes, creeds, and communities, the warmest, biggest, and most spontaneous demonstrations of public esteem and affection ever accorded to a distinguished visitor in India’s First City. On December 5, the last day of his visit, the Pope was scheduled to address a gathering of priests at the Seminary before his departure for Rome. The Souvenir of the event records the incident as follows:
‘The open white convertible raced along arriving fifteen minutes late i.e. at 10:20 am. That meant a shortening of the original forty-minute stay at the Seminary, to a mere twenty-five. All were obsessed with the thought that they had to leave Goregaon not later than 10:45 am…From eight o’clock in the morning, priest and bishops had streamed in for this was to be the session of the Holy Father, with his priests, in India. The Seminary was a natural venue. A special cameraman had been commissioned with his panoramic camera for the occasion.’
The Holy Father was seen ascending the Seminary’s main steps. Due to an organizational foul-up, the Pope never got to address the eager and expectant gathering on the lawn. He visited the Seminary Chapel and admired its stained glass windows as also the remarkable mosaic on the Last Supper in the Sanctuary. Then the Pope was led into Pope John XXIII Hall where a small group of priests and seminarians had gathered. The Holy Father addressed this surprised group first in English from a prepared text, and then extemporaneously in Italian.