Parish History

On 3rd September, 1871, in the presence of a large gathering and amidst the exultation of the whole Catholic community of Allahabad, Rt. Rev. Dr. Paul Tosi OFM Cap., laid the foundation stone of the present Cathedral. Its construction was entrusted to an Italian firm, Messrs Frizzoni & Co., of Allahabad. Bishop Tosi himself describes the origin and main features of the New Cathedral in this way. “In 1871, there were in Allahabad an Engineer from Turin named Giuseppe Frizzoni, and the two Giovannoni brothers from Volterra in Tuscany, marble dealers and artists. Mr. Frizzoni came to know that we wanted to build a Cathedral in Allahabad and he offered his services for the job. The two Giovannoni brothers did the same. The Cathedral was completed in 1879. ”

The magnificent Cathedral was solemnly blessed by Dr. Tosi on 11th February, 1879 and dedicated to St. Joseph, Spouse of Our Lady. The Cathedral has three naves, with a steeple 120feet high and four beautiful bells brought from Rome. The Cathedral was not built in any traditional style just like many others churches in Northern India built at that time. The Cathedral of Allahabad may be considered as master- piece of an eclectic style which was in vogue in the 19th century. It took eight long years to be completed, yet it was a record time when we think of the way in which structures were put up at that time; every brick, every bit of mortar was carried up, in small baskets on the heads of men, women and children. The structure still remains solid and even after 125years the ravages of time have left no impression on it.

In 1905 the clock was installed in the tower. Even to this day the clock is functioning. The credit of keeping the clock alive and running goes to Mr. Eric Paul, a resident of St. Joseph’s Campus, who is in his late seventies.

The Bishops who succeeded Bishop Tosi vied with one another in embellishing the Mother Church of Allahabad. Bishop Pesci, OFM Cap., gave the final touches to the Cathedral and built Priest’s House in 1874 and the Bishop’s House in 1894.

Bishop Gramigna, OFM Cap., brought from Italy the marvellous Tamburini Organ on the occasion of the Golden Jubilee Celebrations of the Cathedral. It was made by the famous Italian Organ Firm of Giovani Tamburuni of Crema. It has 975 pipes. It was specially designed to suit the tropical climate of India. The last person to play this Grand Pneumatic Organ or the Pipe organ was Rev. Sr. Elizabeth of St. Mary’s Convent.

The large and majestic structure of the Cathedral which needed to be beautified was taken up by Bishop Angelo Poli. He first of all brought the motal remains of the Rrt. Rev. Dr. Anastasius Hartmann, Vicar Apostolic of Patna(Allahabad came under Patna in those days) who died on 24th April 1866 at Kurjee. On 6th April 1920 the remains were reburied in the cathedral at Allahabad. Bishop Poli also erected in the triangular garden in front of the Cathedral, the monument of St. Francis of Assisi, in front of the Cathedral, of Italian marble, in the beautiful Dupre expression, to commemorate the seventh Centenary of the death of St. Francis, in 1926. It was again Bishop Poli who brought from Italy the beautiful statues, of Travertine marble, of Christ the Saviour holding the Cross(18 feet in height), and Sts. Peter and Paul (each being eleven feet height ) placed on the façade of the Cathedral to commemorate the Year of Redemption in 1933. The Bishop throne and two stalls for the priests in the sanctuary made of wood carved in Ajmer at the Catholic Industrial School were Bishop Poli’s personal gifts to his church.

In January 1932, Rev. Fr. Camillus, OFM Cap., built a chapel like ’grotto’ at the rear of the Cathedral depicting the famous “La Pieta’’. The statues were imported from Rome by Bishop Poli. The Holy Bishop then decided that he had to get the Cathedral beautified. Two large and beautiful classic pictures were put up in the Sanctuary and a large and costly telescope ladder bought so as to reach the ceiling in order to clean or repair it. People rich and poor hearkened to the Bishops call and gave the wealth, time and energy for this noble cause. Italian artists were brought in, who laboured hard during the winter months of 1934-35 and furnished the Sanctuary. Professor Ena Nello, of the Academy of Fine Arts, Rome and his assistant, Signor Livotti, an expert in mural decorations, were entrusted with the painting of the Cathedral. Later the body of the Cathedral was painted by Signor Nono La Civita of Messrs Bertelli & Co., of Calcutta.

The Goan Community of the Diocese erected a grotto in the compound of the Cathedral, in the year 1934, in devotion to our Lord through His Immaculate Mother. This was blessed and inaugurated by Bishop Poli on 8th December 1934.

On 19th September 1943, the Vicar General of Calcutta, Msgr. Joseph Fernandes blessed the Cross in the garden behind the Cathedral depicting a replica of the instruments used to crucify Christ.

After Vatican II, the late Msgr. C.E. George then the parish priest of the Cathedral, dismantled the beautiful and artistic main marble altar and in its place raised a platform and built an altar facing the people in front of the Communion rails. The task of re-modelling the sanctuary was entrusted to the Msgr. A Rodrigues, who succeeded to a certain extent in building something inspiring devotion and prayerfulness.

The Cathedral has been maintained by the Bishops who succeeded Bishop Poli, the Rectors of the Cathedral and Rev. Sisters from St. Mary’s Convent (32 Thornhill Road) along with all those who worship therein till date. Twenty five years ago the Centenary was celebrated in grand style under the able guidance of Rt. Rev. Baptist Mudartha. Now we are about to celebrate 125 years of the Cathedral under the able guidance of our present Bishop Rt. Rev. Isidore Fernandes. On this grand occasion we are privileged to have Most Rev. Pedro Lopez Quintana, Our Apostolic Nuncio as our most distinguished guest. Even after 125 years of its existence the Cathedral stands as a great monument of faith where thousands of devotees come and worship the Lord Jesus Christ.