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Osmond Memorial Church
Lord Jesus Church - Churches and Synagogues
2023    Dibyendu Banerjee    04/05/2019

With the growth of Calcutta as the most important trading centre of India, the population of European community increased accordingly in the city area and consequently, it resulted in the construction of innumerable churches. These age old churches have invaluable historical value and they still stand today as the legacy of the British period in India. Added to their dignified heritage value, most of those structures are architecturally awe-inspiring.

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Church of the Lord Jesus (in Bengali: Prabhu Jishur Girja), located at 76, Rafi Ahmed Kidwai Road (earlier known as Wellesley street) in central Calcutta, is a Catholic church. Constructed in 1848, it was initially a Church of Scotland, following the Presbyterian form of worship. Later, it was handed over to the Jesuits in 1969 and they made it a centre of various apostolic activities.

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In the 18th and 19th centuries, innumerable European missionaries made a beeline to India with the intention to spread Christianity among the natives and at the same time, the Colonial government stopped restricting the functioning of the missionaries in the country. At the beginning of the 19th century Alexander Duff, a Presbyterian Scottish missionary, arrived in Calcutta on a mission to spread the Scottish tradition of Christian worship. However, in 1843, a serious rift over the religious matter divided the Church of Scotland, the repercussions of which spread throughout the globe and India was not an exception to it. In the aftermath of that unexpected and unwarranted crack in the Church of Scotland, a new ‘Free Church of Scotland’ was born. Consequently, in Calcutta the new ‘Free church’ had its place of worship built on Wellesley Street, which is now located on76, Rafi Ahmed Kidwai Road.

The Holy Cross - The Lord Jesus Church
The Holy Cross - The Lord Jesus Church

In the course of time, the two Presbyterian churches reconciled to form a new union in 1929 and the two warring congregations became one religious unit, choosing the St. Andrew's Church as their place of worship. As a result, the Wellesley street church lost its importance in terms of divinity and sanctity. Consequently, the church and its attached buildings were handed over to the Jesuit fathers in 1969, who give it the Bengali name of ‘Prabhu Jisur Girja’ (Church of the Lord Jesus). It became a centre of various apostolic and pastoral activities. Most of the religious activities, services in this church are in the Bengali language. There is a huge library in the church premises, catering to the needs of the public, in particular, the students. Before 2005, the vast church was a 'public oratory', which was later converted to a parish of the Archdiocese of Calcutta.

The Lord Jesus Church
Osmond Memorial Church
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Author Details
Dibyendu Banerjee
Ex student of Scottish Church College. Served a Nationalised Bank for nearly 35 years. Authored novels in Bengali. Translated into Bengali novels/short stories of Leo Tolstoy, Eric Maria Remarque, D.H.Lawrence, Harold Robbins, Guy de Maupassant, Somerset Maugham and others. Also compiled collections of short stories from Africa and Third World. Interested in literature, history, music, sports and international films.
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