Sunday, October 7, 2012
Cathedral of Madras
That is what it was called, back in the day when Madras was a separate diocese from that of Mylapore. The San Thome basilica was the Cathedral of Mylapore; with the amalgamation of the Archdiocese of Madras and the Dicoese of Mylapore in November 1952, the San Thome basilica became the Cathedral of Madras-Mylapore and St. Mary's Cathedral, on Armenian Street, had to be content with the status of a co-cathedral.
The Cathedral gates have the figure 1642 inscribed on them. While it is likely that the church may have been functioning here from that date, it is also argued that the year refers to the setting up of a cemetery here, rather than a church. What seems to be well accepted is that the church was set up by Fr Ephraim de Nevers, a Capuchin. Fr de Nevers' duties were in Fort St George and he was to keep St. Mary's Church there in order. The government permitted Fr. de Nevers to open his second church in 1658, but it took a little longer for the church itself to take shape.
Whatever be its exact date of origin, it seems to have been well cared for; although missing the pomp and gaiety of a San Thome Church, it is still grand enough to be a commanding presence!