St. Michael’s Cathedral is the Cathedral Church of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Coimbatore that stands tall as a major landmark in faith and worship. The Cathedral is placed in the centre of the city of Coimbatore and the campus has the magnificent old church and the venue that is vast enough to accommodate a huge gathering.
People of all faith enter into the campus experiencing the presence of God especially with a visit to the adoration chapel that is open throughout the day. It is a place that soothes the soul and the body and people seeking silence, solace and joy visit frequently and experience God in a unique way.
From 1656 and till 1773, Jesuits were doing the missionary work here, but due to the suppression of the Jesuit order, Coimbatore was handed over to the missionaries of Paris in 1775. As a sign of God’s blessings, from the seminary of Pondicherry Archdiocese, the first Indian priests, Rev Frs Thomas and Philip were ordained in 1778.
But in 1784, to test our faith, during the reign of Tippu Sultan priests were sacked, churches were demolished and the faithful of Coimbatore were persecuted. But the growth afterwards disproved the efforts of Tippu Sultan.
On 3rd April 1845, Karumathampatty came to be the Headquarters of Coimbatore diocese. Coimbatore which had been the part of Pondicherry Archdiocese so far, was separated and given an identity in Karumathampatty from October 4, 1846. Most Rev. Dr. Marion Bresillac was consecrated as the first bishop of Coimbatore. In remembrance of his patron saint he dedicated the diocese and it’s Cathedral to St. Michael. He also Planned to construct the Cathedral as the replica of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. When the design was planned accordingly, he laid the foundation stone for the cathedral in 1850 in Coimbatore. The Construction of the cathedral took 17 years and it was successfully completed with the help of “Propaganda Fide”, which offered 50,000 franks and it was blessed by Most Rev. Dr. Depomier, the third bishop of Coimbatore on April 28,1867.
When the Coimbatore diocese was still an infant in 1846, there were no Indian priests, no institution and no establishments. The diocese had only four foreign missionary priests namely, Rev. Frs Methrol, Goosth, Bacro and Logie who found it very tiresometo visit the Catholics and administer sacraments to them, for they had to travel long distances St. Anthony’s Shrine without proper conveyance.
In 1847, Fr Bacro purchased a small house surrounded by the tobacco fields for Rs. 4000 where one will find today the Bishop’s House, St. Michael’s School, St. Joseph’s Minor Seminary, Jeeva Jothi Ashram, I.C.C. Hospital, I.C. Convent, Presentation Convent Generalate, St. Joseph’s Industrial School and Swamiar New Street in Fort, Coimbatore.
In 1870, Most Rev. Dr. Gladius Maria Depomier participated in the First Vatican Council. Those were the days, when the diocese swept in a poor monetary state and administering the diocese was very difficult. The Bishop passed away in 1873 at Nagapattinam on his way to France and his body was brought back to Coimbatore and was buried in the cathedral.
The Most Rev. Dr. Joseph Bardou succeeded as the next bishop of Coimbatore form Aug. 23, 1874. When a severe drought swept Coimbatore between 1876 – ’78 he helped the people to a great extent by erecting porridge containers. He celebrated his episcopal silver jubilee in 1899, and passed away on Feb. 7, 1903.
Rev. Fr Dennis Peyramal, the parish priest of Coonoor was appointed the bishop of Coimbatore, but he died on Aug. 8, 1903 before his episcopal consecration. Hence till the next bishop arrived V. Rev. Fr Noel Rondy took charge of the diocese as an Administrator. He was also the Coimbatore Municipal Councilor for 23 years and was the first Municipal Chairman of Coimbatore.
Then the Most. Rev. Dr. Augustine Roy was consecrated the bishop of Coimbatore on Feb. 12, 1904. He founded the diocesan congregation of Brothers of St. Michael which does a wonderful service of both in and outside the diocese. But he resigned his office on Jan. 12,1931, and died on Dec. 12, 1937 in Wellington. His mortal remains were brought to Coimbatore and were buried in the Cathedral.
Most. Rev. Dr. Louis Tournies became the next bishop on Apr. 13, 1932. He also resigned from the office due to sickness and died on May 18, 1938.
Rev. Fr Beshu MEP became the administrator from 1938 to 1940. He died in Wellington in 1966 and was buried in the Sanatorium.
A new beginning dawned to the diocese when Most. Rev. Dr. Ubagarqsamy of the Archdiocese of Pondicherry became the Bishop of Coimbatore. He was the first Indian Bishop to be appointed in Coimbatore. He founded the Workers association and arranged Sundays be declared as government holidays to all the mills. He encouraged the presentation Sisters to take up the medical work and founded many schools and hospitals in the diocese.
The diocese started to see a new dimension, when Most. Rev. Dr. Francis M. Savari Muthu, the native of Coimbatore was consecrated as the bishop of Coimbatore on Apr. 26, 1950. The Bishop participated in the 2nd Vatican Council.
In 1947, in remembrance of the diocesan centenary celebration, the grotto of the Sacred Heart was built on the western side of the cathedral. In 1962 the present cathedral took its form with the extension on both eastern and western sides. A grotto of Our Lady of Sorrows on the western side and a grotto of the Sacred Heart were built in the eastern side of the altar. He erected many new parishes in the diocese and in compliance with his will, he was buried in the front of the Sacred Heart altar after his death in 1971.
Next came the Most. Rev. Dr. C. M. Visuvasam from Madurai Archdiocese as the Bishop of Coimbatore on May 3, 1972. As a man of action and vision, in his period was laid the foundation stone for Jeeva Jothi Ashram, which stands as the pride of our diocese. He encouraged and helped the Presentation Sisters and the Brothers of St. Michael to stand on their own legs. He died in Belgium on Feb. 2, 1979. His body was brought back to India and buried in the cathedral.
In 1980, the new age of growth commenced in the diocese through Most. Rev. Dr. M. Ambrose, the former Bishop of Coimbatore. As a son of the soil, belonging to the cathedral parish, he stood as the longest reigning bishop. The portico of the cathedral was constructed and blessed on Jan. 26, 1997 as a Memorial of his Episcopal silver Jubilee and of the 150th year jubilee of the cathedral. The two huge pillars, in front of the front door, were removed, utilizing modern technology, and the height of the two side-doors, were raised up, and the large platform in front, was built up with a permanent concrete roofing and new facade for the Cathedral which was considered once (even ridiculed) as too large for the Sunday crowd of maximum 200-300, up to the beginning of the 20th century, had become too small even for ordinary Masses! The flooring of the platform also was paved with marble slabs and fitted with powerful electric lights! The parishioners contributed generously.
Rev. Fr.Pappu constructed a new, spacious Parish Hall in the place of the Rondy Hall and was blessed and opened by Bishop Thomas Acquinas in the year 2004. Adoration Chapel was another mile stone that was built in the place where the Grotto of Sacred Heart of Jesus was there and it was initiated by Fr. Albert Nelson and was completed by Fr. Melchior in the year 2009. The ancient cathedral is now 165 years old and it has its own limitations and needs renovation and a study on renovation and extension of it is being studied!
Weekdays: 6.15am; 6.30pm
Every Monday: Mass at the Cemetery at 6.30 pm
Families : 700
Catholics : 4000
Parochial Feast: St. Michael the Arch Angel
2nd Sunday of May
Immaculate Conception of Mary