OBJECTS AND STORIES – A Chalice and a Memoir of Dr. Leo Meurin, Archbishop of Bombay (1867 – 1886)

September 1, 1886 was a watershed in the history of the Archdiocese of Bombay. H.H. Pope Leo XIII issued a bull titled ‘Humanae Salutis’ by which Bombay was raised from the status of a Vicariate to that of an Archdiocese.

While this news served as an occasion of jubilation, the Catholics of Bombay were apprehensive. Their beloved Archbishop – Dr. Leo Meurin – who was summoned to Rome by Pope Leo XIII in July 1886 had not returned since. The Padroadists believed it was because of the two pamphlets the Archbishop had written against the patronage of the Portuguese kings while others surmised that the Pope would honour the Archbishop by conferring upon him the title of Cardinal.

Whatsoever the case, it was soon clear that Dr. Leo Meurin was not returning to back to the island city.  Instead, in 1887 he was nominated titular Archbishop of Nisibis and took charge of the diocese of Port Louis in Mauritius where he fought the good-fight against freemasonry and published a book titled ‘Freemasonry: Synagogue of Satan.’

 But who was Dr. Leo Meurin and why was his service so significant to our Archdiocese?

Johann Gabriel Leon Louis Meurin was born on January 23, 1825 in Berlin, Germany. He entered the novitiate of the Society of Jesus and was ordained priest on September 23, 1848. Shortly after his ordination he was chosen secretary to Cardinal Johannes von Geissel, the Archbishop of Cologne. After nearly a decade, Dr. Meurin, along with other German Jesuits, set sail to India and landed in Bombay on October 27, 1858. Here, he served as a military chaplain in Pune and as a parish priest in Candolim, Goa.  However amidst the uncertainties of looming epidemics, a virulent attack of cholera left this enthusiastic priest handicapped among the lonely hills of Khandala. 

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