Although I’m not a religious person as such, visiting places of worship often proves to be rather rewarding. People used to demonstrate their best abilities in sculpture, architecture, and painting when building a church or a temple. Planning a visit to St. Thomas Cathedral in Mumbai, I knew that I wouldn’t regret it – heritage buildings of Colaba were always a sight to behold. But to be honest, I wasn’t prepared to see what I saw, and my expectations didn’t go even half that far.
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The historical note
The construction of the cathedral was completed in 1718, and it was the first Anglican church in the city. In the 17th century, Mumbai (Bombay) was part of the dowry of the Portuguese Infanta Catherine who married English Prince Charles II. Then the island was leased to East India Company who recognized its natural advantages and immediately started to build a massive fort. The Cathedral was meant to keep the moral standards of the British newcomers. Although the foundation stone was laid in 1670-s, it took quite a while to complete the construction due to financial considerations.
Many British officers were laid to rest under the engraved tablets in St. Thomas Cathedral. Reading the elegies, one can get a feel of what it was like to live and die in the times of the British Empire. Captain George Barnes, for example, was described like this:
“He was distinguished by all the qualities that ennoble a British officer: inviolable truth, unstained honor and undaunted courage. In private life he was affectionate and generous, and he died, as he had lived, in the faith and hope of the Gospel”.
Exquisite marble memorials of St. Thomas Cathedral
The interior of the church left me speechless. From what I read in different guides, this cathedral is famous for its stained glass windows, but to be honest, my attention was drawn to the exquisite marble memorials – I have never seen so many beautiful reliefs gathered in a single church.
As I’ve mentioned in my previous post, I love to travel to Colaba early in the morning, and the day when I visited St. Thomas was no exception. It was still a bit dark inside the cathedral, and my humble camera couldn’t handle the lack of light. Still, these photos can give you a certain idea of its splendor.
The last photo depicts the memorial to the first Bishop of Bombay – the Right Reverend Thomas Carr.
The stained glass windows of the cathedral
As for the stained glass windows, the most prominent of them was the one depicting St. Thomas – the Christian apostle who was the first to introduce Christianity to India. The book in his hands is the Bible, of course, and the T Square indicates his profession – he was a constructor. To the left from him, there is Archangel Gabriel, holding a white lily as a symbol of purity. To the right – archangel Michael with a double-edged sword as a symbol of justice.
I’m not sure how many perishers visit this church and what their masses are like – every single Christian I know in India is Catholic, and even my husband’s grandfather, who originally belonged to the Anglican church, used to attend a Catholic church and brought up his kids accordingly. But I know for sure that St. Thomas Cathedral is worth visiting, no matter what gods a person chooses to pray to. Pure aesthetic pleasure is guaranteed.
St.Thomas Cathedral in Mumbai – location and opening hours
It is situated on Veer Nariman Road, not far from the Flora Fountain and Horniman Circle Gardens.
The nearby Churchgate station and the whole region towards the west got its name thanks to this church, by the way.
6:30 AM – 6:00 PM (Daily)