Donna and Joe have finished their assignment in India. Occasionally they still travel somewhere.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

St. Xavier Cathedral

St. Francis Xavier cathedral is walking distance from our apartment on St. John’s Church road. (We live in a part of Bangalore with a lot of Christians, although there are many Christians and Muslims mixed with the majority Hindus through out Bangalore.) We had thought when we went that this was a very old church, but we must have had it confused with another church. When I checked the web I learned that St. Xavier cathedral was built over a 20 year period in the 1910’s and 20’s. The church is undergoing some reconstruction, so there is bamboo scaffolding around the front.
It is a classic cruxiform (cross shaped) architecture with a long narrow nave facing the altar located under the dome. The arms of the cross on either side provide additional seating. All told it would probably hold 300-400 worshippers. The construction is rough stone inside and out. Electric lights and fans where clearly a later addition. Another later addition was a video camera and TV monitors for those seated in places with out a clear view of the alter to see what was going on. However, the one I could see didn’t seem to be working. Most of the windows are plain but there are stain glass windows in the dome and behind the altar. The windows were open and I notice couple of birds flying above the worshippers.

We did not know either the time of the mass or how long it would take to walk to the church. We arrived shortly after 9:30 and found the service already going on in a language we could not understand. The church was fairly full and we sat down in one of the last rows. After 5 or 10 minutes the service ended, some people got up and left but others remained in the pews, apparently waiting for the next service. We moved closer to the front and less than 5 minutes after one service ended the next began.

This one was in English and began with blessing of water and salt, then sprinkling of the congregation with water. There were no programs or hymnals in the pews or available as you came in as far as we could see. Some people seemed to have brought theirs with them. Much of the mass seemed very similar to Catholic mass in the US. When they came to the part for passing the peace, worshippers exchanged greetings in a Indian fashion, placing their palms together bowing slightly and saying either “peace” or “namaste”.

After the homily, but before the Eucharist, they had parish announcements. Many were the kind of thing you would hear in many churches. I thought it was a little unusual that they announced the amount of the collection from last Sunday.

The service lasted slightly less than one hour and it appeared there would another soon after, but we did not stay for it.

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