History: Sacred Heart Cathedral, Shimoga
Very few were the Catholics at the rise of the 19th century in the entire district of Nagar or of Shimoga as it came to be known later. The present city of Shimoga was then but a village having been raised to the category of a town in about 1830. It had then only a sprinkling of Catholics. The corner stone of the parish of Shimoga was laid a little before 1830 by the few Konkani speaking people who had come up from the side of Malabar (South Kanara). A Chief of the local tribunal had helped to construct a very small chapel wherein he himself was buried after his death. The Number of Catholics considerably increased in 1830 with the arrival of some twenty families of sepoys who had formed part of a regiment, which was returning after the quelling by the British of a revolt at nagar against them. These poor people had also in their turn raised a small chapel. The first priest to visit them was Rev. Fr Arulnader.
On 20-08-1838 Msgr. Charbonnaux wrote to Fr Tesson that he was going to the ‘province of Nagar’ in order to visit Shimoga a “New Town”. In 1838 the ecclesiastical district of Nagar or Shimoga was incorporated in the Mission of Mysore. There was then only one Missionary in this Mission. Shimoga came to prominence ecclesiastically after the Foreign Mission Society of Paris took over its administration. In 1840 a new Chapel was built by Fr Bigot Beauclair and completed by Msgr Charbonneaux. There was also a burial ground.
The First Parish Priest of Shimoga was Fr Garnier, appointed in the beginning of 1846 but he expired before the-of the year, in November. He was then succeeded by Fr Chevalier (1847 – 1849) who is believed to have rebuilt the chapel of Shimoga. This chapel was situated together with the priest’s quarters, each with a separate compound and a cemetery behind at what was then called Brahmin streets along the Tungha River. It was dedicated to the Holy name of Mary. It was only in 1849 that two French priests namely Fr Manduit and Coadou were able to tour the District.
The First Baptism given by French Fathers in the Shimoga on 27-07-1847 and first marriage blessed on 04-08-1847.
At the end of the 17th Century, the Paris Foreign Mission Society, with its Headquarters at Pondicherry took over the administration of the Mysore Mission. The Districts of Shimoga, Chitradurga and Chikkamagalur fell into the able hands of the Fathers of the Foreign Mission Society. Already in 1830 Shimoga Town had a small Church and a Burial ground. It was constituted into a Parish in 1847.
In 1871 a new Church began to be constructed. Its structure alone took two years to be completed. Before the building was fit enough to be used, Fr Kleiner, its founder was transferred and it was left to his assistant Fr Gerbier who now succeeded him to give it finishing touches. It took another two years for this to be done, so that the father, after obtaining the required permission from Msgr Chevalier who had become by then Bishop of Mysore, was able to bless it solemnly only on the 4th April 1875 dedicating it to the Sacred of Jesus.
As the Catholic population increased, this Church was found to be too small and an extension was put up and inaugurated on 30 November 1976 on the erection of the Diocese of Shimoga, this Sacred Heart Church got the status of a Cathedral on 14th November 1988.
However, an entirely new Cathedral Church was started on 31 January 1994, completed and dedicated on 31 January 1998 by Most Rev. Ignatius Pinto, the first Bishop of Shimoga.
Sacred Heart Cathedral
B. H. Road, Shimoga – 577 201
Tel: 08182 – 270021