The exact date of origin of the first Bombay Seminary is not recorded but the story starts in 1764. The Vicar Apostolic noted several intrigues among the priests. As the historian Hull quotes: ‘on account of the disloyalty towards him of priests ordained in Goa, the Vicar Apostolic began in future to select local subjects and ordain them himself.’

The English welcomed the Vicar’s decision in order to prevent the Portuguese Padroado influence. They allowed the Vicar, Bishop Dominic of St. Clare, to return back to his residence in Fort. And thus was inaugurated the first Bombay Seminary in 1770 as a one-room day school in the Bishop’s House attached to the Fort Chapel in Meadows Street (now called Nagindas Master Road, Kala Ghoda).

A quick reference to the Fort Chapel can be found in the Examiner dated September 17, 1910. It states: ‘When the Vicar Apostolic and his Carmelites arrived in Bombay…the Vicar Apostolic for his official residence soon took a house in the Fort and set up there a Chapel dedicated to Mount Carmel.’ In 1900, ‘the incommodiousness of the house and the inadequacy of the Chapel made it necessary to look for a new site.’ This was secured at Wodehouse Road (now Nathalal Parekh Marg).  No prizes for tracing the birth of the present Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Bombay!

 The most important institution connected to the Fort Chapel was undoubtedly the Ecclesiastical Seminary. Around half-a-dozen young native men reported daily to the ‘seminary’ and were trained in elementary theology. The first ordinations of the Bombay Seminary took place in 1775 when Bishop Charles of St Conrad, successor to Bishop Dominic, raised four seminarians to the clerical state. The Vicar also sent Fr Antonio Pinto da Gloria to Rome for further studies.

For the next seven years the Bombay Seminary would share its quarters with the Bishop’s residence. However, with an ambition to mission, did they manage to hold fort?

Stay tuned as we unravel the travel of the Bombay Seminary through the Fort precincts! Please feel free to share this story with others and your story of the Seminary with us! You will get regular updates at this blog site on this exhibition.

© – Archdiocesan Heritage Museum

#MapItOut – Discover the location of the first Bombay Seminary by clicking on the link and navigating through the map dated 1893. Zoom into the Fort precinct and when you spot the Fort Chapel on Meadows Street, type a ‘yay’ in the comments section below. 

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