Bandel Church - History

Bandel Church was constructed in Bandel by the Portuguese after their settlement on the banks of Hooghly river. The first man to arrive from Portugal was Vasco da Gama in 1498. The Portuguese were of the barbaric nature and did business through might and force.

Vasco da Gama

Arrival of Portuguese in Bengal

In 1535, Portuguese arrived in Bengal and started their trade from Saptagram which was situated on the banks of Saraswati river. In 1575, Mughal emperor Akbar allowed them to settle near Hooghly river. Meanwhile, river Saraswati dried up due to silting so the Portuguese started trading from there new settlement at Hooghly.

Portuguese in Bengal

Priests of Portuguese

Priests of Portuguese also arrived in India and began to preach Christianity after getting permission from Akbar. This led to increase in the followers of Christianity which further led to the construction of a church in Bandel in 1599. The church was named as Church of the Holy Rosary. Bandel church was declared as Basilica by Pope II in 1988.

History of the Church

Portuguese became barbaric by the end of 16th century. They started robbing others and also sold women and children as slaves. When Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan came to know about this, he attacked the Hooghly port by sending an army under the command of Qasim Khan Juvayni Nawab. There were five priests out of which four were killed.

Qasim Khan Juvayni Nawab

Tiago tried to carry the statue of Mother Mary but could not succeed and the statue sank in the river. The church was also destroyed in the attack. The fifth priest Joan da Cruz was captured and was taken as prisoner along with his followers.

Death sentence was given to them as punishment in which they have to be trampled below the feet of the elephants but one elephant raised the priest and put him on his back which amazed the emperor. So he freed the priest and the prisoners and sent them back to Hooghly. He also gave 311 acres of land to rebuild the church which was built in 1660.

Statue of Mother Mary

Statue of Mother Mary sank in the river. One day Father Joan da Cruz heard the voice of Tiago saying that Mother Mary is coming but he neglected it. Next day he found the statue on the bank of the river. The fishermen brought it back and put it on the bank. They celebrated the return of the statue of Mother Mary.

Meanwhile, a Portuguese ship landed at the Bandel port and the captain said that they have faced a storm. The captain also said that he prayed to God that if they survive they will give the ship mast to the first church that they will see. As they have seen the Bandel church first, so they donated the ship mast to the church.