Sunday, 8 January 2017

Mumbai series - St. John the Baptist Church, Thane

St. John the Baptist Church is one of the oldest churches in the Mumbai- Thane – Vasai region. The Portugese city of Vasai / Bassein was the base from where the missionaries branched out to Thane for their proselytising efforts. The Portugese were Catholics and several denominations like Fransicians, Jesuits, secular clergy etc. were active in the Thane region.

 The parish dates to 1579 however the current building was not the original one of the St. John the Baptist church. The building that we see now was the St. Anthony church, the only surviving one after the Marathas raided and destroyed all the other churches in Thana and Vasai region in the 1730s.

 The parish has been the one of largest and most important ones since inception. The church was painstakingly restored under the conservation expertise of Vikas Dilawari the highly-acclaimed restoration specialist. Now the church looks absolutely stunningly beautiful and the conservation work ensured its original look was restored to perfection.

19th century references to the Thane Christians (Gazetteer of Bombay Presidency Vol 13 Part 1, p.206/7) state that the Christians of Thana (Thane was called Thana then) were an independent respectable class and were known to be mild, amiable, clean and tidy in their habits, besides known to be hardworking and orderly. The majority of the Christian population fell under the overall administration of the Archbishop of Goa, under whom were the Vicar Generals of Bombay, Salsette and Bassein.

Travel notes: The Church is prominently located in the Talaopali area of Thane, now one of the most populated busy areas of the bustling satellite city. Thane is a completely different city than Mumbai (and with a history of its own), however for purpose of touristy convenience I have clubbed this post under the Mumbai series.

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