St Xavier’s College and the Collagiate School, Calcutta, 1860

StXviersCollege

সেন্ট জেভিয়ার্স কলেজ এবং স্কুল, কলকাতা, ১৮৬০

A quarter of a century before the the Belgian Jesuits set up the present St Xavier’s College in 1860, an international group of Jesuits commissioned by the English Jesuit Province landed in Calcutta to look after the interests of the Catholics. The team was headed by Dr Robert St Leger. The College of St Francis Xavier was opened at Moorghyhatta by Fr Chadwick, an English Jesuit in 1834. Next year, the college was shifted to 3 Park Street, and thereafter to 22 Chowringhee, where the Indian Museum now stands, to accommodate increasing number of students. Incidentally, the same year Mgr Carew took the charge of the affairs of the Catholic Church. In 1846, due to the feud between the Jesuits and Mgr Carew, the College was closed and the Jesuits left for their home shores.
At the demise of Mgr Carew in 1855, Mgr Olliffe took charge as the new bishop. Being an admirer of the Jesuits, he with the active support of some of his prominent associates, appealed the Belgian Jesuits to come to Calcutta to look after the education of the Catholic community! Click to See More
In response to the appeal of the English Jesuits, a host of seven Belgian Jesuits under the leadership of Henri Joseph Depelchin, SJ, then only 37, arrived at Calcutta in November 1859, . Within a fortnight, Depelchin announced in the newspapers that College of St. Francis Xavier would be opening on 6 January 1860. A prospectus, designed by a Brother Koppes, S.J., had already been published and distributed. The College opened eight days later than planned, with Father Jean Devos, S.J., as its first Rector. Within weeks, The college was moved to 30 Park Street where the Sans Souci theatre was located, before 1843, when a fire broke out, leaving nothing but ashes.sansSouci-theatre
[The Sans Souci Theatre of Calcutta. c.1840. One of the earliest known examples of a daguerreotype picture taken in Calcutta, which has survived only as a reproduction]
This address where the present day college campus stands tall, is an amalgamation of numbers 10 and 11 of Park Street. Premise number 11, was bought for Rs 45,000.00, by Fr. Depelchin. These funds were made possible with the generous donations of the Anglo-Indians and with help from the home Province of Belgium. The very first class had as few as 40 students. Later, in 1862, the college was affiliated to the Calcutta University. Soon, for the expansion work in terms of class rooms and facilities, the authority felt the need for development funds. They appealed to the public of Calcutta in newspapers for generous assistance and was responded with magnanimity by well wishers of the city in 1864. Besides Father Depelchin, S.J., and his assistant, Brother Koppes, S.J., the architect of the new school, went around personally collecting funds. The present imposing 5 storied building was built in an interval of 6 years, from 1934 to 1940 at a cost of Rs 9 lakhs, which was collected partly from the public of Calcutta, assistance from Belgium, and the huge rental received from the American army that occupied the building during the Second World War. See Evan Cotton. Calcutta, Old and New
The Goethals library, which is located above the College Chapel, houses some of the oldest periodicals, journals and books. The treasures were inherited, in 1908, by the Jesuit Fathers from the then Archbishop of Calcutta, Paul Goethals, S.J. Today, the treasures are well preserved and the library has become a spot of historical significance.

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