St Michael's Cathedral, Shimla (1885) -first Catholic church in this area - a favorite of Lord Ripon

St Michael's Cathedral, Shimla

St Michael's Cathedral, Shimla

St Michael's Cathedral, one of the well-known cathedral in Shimla camp up in 1886 to meet the spiritual needs of the growing European population on the hill. It was the first Catholic Roman church in this part and  was built by none other than the famous Irish architect Henry Irwin (1841-1922),  then Superintendent Engineer and Architect of PWD in Shimla.  Arriving in India in 1868 he made his debut in his profession by designing and constructing in 1872.a large Catholic Church in Pachmarhi (also known as Pachmarhi) in Madhya Pradesh, a "hill-station and sanatorium for British troops" in central India where he was the   Executive Engineer in Nagpur (1872). It was built in accordance with the guidelines laid out for ecclesiastical buildings in the UK in the 19th century. Later he designed Vitori Town an the famous  Madras High court  complex (he completed the wok), then one of the largest court building in the  world

interior St Michael's Cathedral, Shimla

In order to make the cathedral a unique  one he chose French-Gothic style and particularly the interior parts highlight this style. He used dressed greystone on the exterior    He never failed to incorporate common features of a church such as  a wide  nave, a vestry, a confessional room, a baptistery room and two aisles,  beautifully proportioned stained glass window over the altar shows St Francis on the left and St Joseph on the right and vantage space for the organ, It is reasonably a big place of worship with plain interior and can accommodate 400 people at a time.  St. Michael's Cathedral, a heritage church has one of the  best organs (built in 1913)  in North India. The church is located just below the Deputy Commissioner office on the Shopping mall Road and just above Army Headquarters.

This cathedral was known as the Ripon place because the construction of the building was on when  Lord Ripon  (1880-1884) was the  was the Viceroy of India. Being liberal in political ideology, he was the founder of local self government in modern India and was fondly called “Ripon, the Good”. He  became a catholic convert, apart, he himself chose the site for the proposed cathedral, and made largest contribution to the  building. Ripon got ample support from fellow  Catholic Sir Dennis Fitzpatrick, the then Lieutenant-Governor of the Punjab. The Archbishop of Agra  did the dedication ceremony. The  steeple (now missing  was built in 1900.

Visitors to the cathedral normally  lay some flowers amongst the gilded walls and pray. The old glass tapestry and a precious old statue of "Our Lady of Guadalupe," a gift from Mexico never faiL to get the attention of the new visitors. The library close to the church came uP in 1910 and has a good collection of books.