The Sacred Heart Church of Jesus, Kolkata - first Portuguese house of worship in West Bengal

In the city of Kolkata(Calcutta) and adjacent places there are many historical Roman Catholic and Anglican churches. Many of them came up in Calcutta  when East  India company took complete control over Bengal in the middle of the 18th century. As more British and other Europeans moved in for jobs, there was a necessity to open up  many churches.   Portuguese were  responsible for the establishment of  Christianity  in Bengal in the 16th century.  In 1682, there were 14,120 Roman Catholics in Bengal. Missionary and educator  William Carey translated the Bible into Bengali in 1809.


The Armenian Holy Church of Nazareth, an 18th-century Armenian Apostolic church in Kolkata, India served as the center of the  Armenian Community; they were mostly traders.  The Armenian  Church was first built in the year 1688 and  later rebuilt in 1724. St. Paul's church (later cathedral) was established in 1787 by the British with support from the EIC. . Apparently, the first Portuguese Church  in this part of Calcutta was the Church of  Sacred Heart of Jesus.


This historical house of worship - the Sacred Heart of Jesus was  a Roman Catholic church used by the Portuguese settlers who had landed  in Bengal much earlier than the arrival of the East India company.  At that point of time they did not have a church  for their growing community. According to the Bengal & Agra Guide and Gazetteer of 1841 the church's vicar  was Rev Joao Correia. and  coadjucator was Rev Jouquim Videira. The city of Calcutta came up in  1690.. The Calcutta High court ruled  several yeas ago that Job Charnock was not the founder of Calcutta and the town had been there under different name. 


1834 Sacred Heart of Jesus Kolkata  animeshray.com


1834 Sacred Heart of Jesus Kolkata commons.wikimedia.org


Upon the passing of  the Catholic Emancipation Act  in 1829, the church was built by Mrs Pascoa da Souza, a member of the prominent Portuguese family, the Barrettos, between  1832 and 1834. It came up  behind Dharamtola Bazaar on Dhurrumtollah (Dharamtola) Street in the prime area of  Calcutta (Kolkata).


Sacred Heart of Jesus Kolkata puronokolkata.com


Above image: Historical evidences suggest it is a rare view of the Catholic Church of the Sacred Heart in Calcutta.  This colored  lithograph, dated 1848, is taken from plate 7 of Sir Charles D’Oyly’s ‘ Views of Calcutta and its environs. .https://puronokolkata.com...................



Sacred Heart of Jesus Kolkata .wikimedia.org

What prompted the Portuguese family to establish the church here? In 1821, Ms de Souza’s son was tried by the Calcutta court for shooting and injuring a person named Joseph Gonsalves while on his way back home  the old Chowringhi Theater. Unexpected and in deep pain, the mother  took a resolution to build  a church if her son would be  acquitted. from the case framed by the police.  After the trial  the court did not find any substantial evidence  produced by Joseph Gonsalves' family and ultimately found him not guilty. The court verdict gave her a big sigh of relief. Soon she made up  her mind to get into  fulfilling her resolution rather  vow to build a church for Christ. The church  built by her  was under the parish of the padroado until 1844. Built in Gothic style with long pointed spire  with tall columned fa├žade  the  main hall of the church is con the  first floor;  there is a small chapel on the ground floor. The prayer hall is separated from the outer chamber by grill work and a door. The old church was renovate in the 1970s


https://puronokolkata.com/2014/03/13/portuguese-church-mugihata-kolkata-184

https://www.flickr.com/photos/23268776@N03/3196927690