Florilegium

Hundred years of the Glorious Past
BY MR. F. X. PAUL, M.A., L.T.
THE saga of "The Sun never sets on the British Empire", may very truly on tbe applied to the fame of our College which its alumni have carried to every nook and corner of the World ; and if there is a sceptic, let him persue the Annuals published, which are full of letters, messages, and reminiscences of Old students.

1841 – 58.
While so much is heard and spoken of the "College" by the present generation, it is very rarely that one thinks of the glorious past; and it is my pleasant duty to sketch briefly the history of our institution. As the college first had its humble beginnings on St. John’s Hill, let me review that part of Bangalore in the year 1841.

Dr. Bonnaud, Vicar Apostolic of the coromandel coast was the first to suggest the starting of a Catholic College in a letter, he addressed to Fr. Bertrand on the 29th October, 1841. The Catholic then numbered about 1000 among a population of 5000 in the whole of Bangalore. The now popular quarters of St. John’s Hill was then uninhabited and when the plot of land known as "The Garden" was purchased for Rs. 1000 and the foundations of St. Francis Xavier’s Church were laid, people laughed at the idea of "building a Church in a desert".

It was in 1854, that a batch of seminarists first settled in St. John’s Hill the building that was till lately occupied by St. Aloysius School, before they moved towards Assaye Lines.This was the cradle of St. Joseph's College built by Fr. Bouteloup, Superior of the seminary, at a cost of Rs. 3000. Then in the year 1858, arrived the first batch of European boarders and the first classes for European boys was opened in St. Joseph’s Seminary. The following entry in the Diary of Dr. Charbonnaux records this noteworthy fact."We decided to open a school for European boys. As a knowledge of English is necessary to our Indian pupils and that of Canarese to European boys, we determined to build a wing and a Kitchen adjoining the seminary." Thus in the memorable year 1858, a wing and a Kitchen in the Compound now crumbled to dust was constructed and an European section started which is almost as old as the Madras University.

1859 – 65.
The St. Joseph’s seminary of 1858 comprised of a seminary, an Orphanage, and a Boarding establishment. In 1958 we celebrate the Centenary of our college;and within these 100 years the progress os St. Joseph’s College is closely connected with the separation of these three heterogenous elements.

During the first seven years of its career, there was a tendency on the part of the moderners to separate the three section, and they ultimately prevailed over those who wanted to stay put. In May 1865, the new house, on the site of the present St. Germain High School and the Old Bishop’s House, was built at a cost of Rs. 16,000 defrayed as follows : - Rs. 7,000 by the Mission, Rs. 5,000 by the Madras Government, Rs. 300 by the Mysore Government, Rs. 500 by Mr. Bowring, and the remainder by various subscribers. To-day nothing is left of that building except two dilapidated wings at the back of the Old Bishop’s House.

1866 – 94.
After the separation of the Seminarists, came the separation of our Orphans, when in 1875 they moved to St. Patrick’s Orphanage, adjoining St. Patrick's Church. What was left, numbered 64 boarders and 80 day scholars. The time also arrived, when a galaxy of able educationists took charge of St. Joseph’s seminary (a misnomer) and were destined to make it one of the leading European Colleges in southern India.

Rev. Fr. Vissac was appointed Rector in 1882 and then began his life’s work. First, he affiliated St. Joseph’s to the Madras University as a Second Grade College and the name of St. Joseph’s seminary was changed to St. Joseph’s College. Two years later, the first two F.A’s passed out – Fr. Mascarenhas and Mr. O’Sullivan. Next he pulled down the Old buildings and constructed a magnificent structure which is now St. Germains High School and what was before the Bishop’s House, with its Colonnades and classical Corinthian Capitals. Again after 12 years of selfless labour, he planned to transfer the college from its then isolated position to the heart of the Cantonment. He acquired land next to the Madras Bank and laid the foundation of the New College in 1894. Fr. Vissac and Fr. Barrie both worked hard eeaselessly watching the progress of the building and after four strenuous year of labour, the New College building was opened in January 1898 with 100 boarders and 89 days scholars. Within these 4 years, two notable events happened which also made their mark in the history of St. Joseph’s College.

On 8th December 1894, the Corner stone of a house was laid which later housed the first two Brothers of the Immaculate Conception, who rendered ycoman services to the Institution. Again in the year, two of the youngest members of the staff, Fr. Froger and Fr. Schmitt proceeded to England for higher studies, and returned in a few years with the degree of London M.A. Fr. Vissac’s health was shattered by 20 years of eeaseless toil, and he retired from Rectorship in 1902. Fr. Vissac will always be remembered as the Founder of St. Joseph's College.

1902 – 1916.
Then came Fr. Froger's Rectorship of 12 years from 23rd October 1903 to 4th October 1913 and from 23rd October 1915 to 4th October 1916 during which period St. Joseph's was generally recognized as one of the leading European schools in India. It was Fr. Froger who gave the motto "Fide et Labore" to the College with its artistic device of a cross and two bees on the wing in quest of honey.

In 1904, a swarm of full – fledged bees flew from the mother-hive to form the Indian section in its own pile of building on Museum Road. The European High School Scheme was adopted in 1910 which was an improvement on the Old Matriculation. Also the old F.A. was replaced by the Intermediate Arts. It was in 1910 also that the Annual made its first appearance during Christmas.

1916 – 25.
On the death of Fr. Froger, the Rev. Fr. Leo Vanpeene took up the reins as Rector and Principal. A splendid disciplinarian, a great musician, a good mathematician and a still better forgician; had no easy task when he began his work in 1916. The First World War had already deprived him of the valuable services of Fr. Schmitt, and four of the Irish Brothers. In spite of all – financial stringency and insufficient staff he struggled manfully and maintained the noble traditions of St. Joseph's for eight long years.

During this period, the Intermediate Classes started in 1882, were detached from the High School and temporarily removed to the top floor of the Indian High School in 1923, till the completion of the imposing structure on Residency Road. Rev. Fr. Argaut was the First Principal of the Second Grade College; and later in 1925 occupied the present Building; and in 1926 raised it to a First Grade College. It is now the boast of Old Students that their Alma Mater could receive a boy in the Kindergarten class and send him into the world as a full-fledged graduate.

1926 – 37.
In the European Section, when Fr. Vanpeene left, there came two Rectors and Principals – Fr. H. Prouvost ( 1926 – 31 ) and Fr. R. Collart (1931–37) and the school progressed from one mile stone to another; and especially extended its extra – curricular activities to Swimming, Dramatics, Scouts, Cubs, Crusaders etc. Before we pass on to the Change of the Guard, two noteworthy names have not been mentioned, as they did not become a Rector or a Principal, yet they had been pillars of the Institution. Good Old Father St. Germain, a mother rather than a father, was the "Play Boy" of the College. He worked for 46 long years as Teacher and Bursar, always ready to help, always eager to do good, loved by generations of boys who appreciated his golden heart more than his silver rupees. Then the saintly Father Cholet, a veteran who came in 1893 and continued faithfully and humbly to the last, is more known as a Diarist. This Diary he began to write in his charming and humorous way from 1910 as "School News" to the year 1937.

In 1937 the St. Joseph's College was handed over to the society of Jesus and Rt. Rev. Mgr. M. Despatures, the Bishop of Mysore wrote as follows : -

"We owe you, all of us, a large debt of gratitude for your kindness in bringing us relief. We need not make a mystery of the fact; if the Foreign Mission Society had still the glorious recruitment it boasted of 40 years ago, we would not have parted with our College and Schools, being as they are, the fruits of years of devotion on the part of confreres who formed as fine and efficient a band of workers as one could wish. But for want of men, we had to part with those institutions, and in our plight, your Society agreed to succeed us."

Thus ended a glorious chapter, written in stones and mortar, in imposing piles in beautiful Bangalore.

What has been done will not be undone; and the great traditions of the school, traditions of Faith and of Toil are now continued in all its glory by the Fathers of the Society of Jesus during these past 20 years and may God bless them all to achieve further glories.

" When the individual man is recognized by all in his true stature as the image of God, gifted with inherent rights which no merely human power can violate : when the state is recognized in its true nature as divinely instituted to protect and defend its citizens, not to enslave them : when the whole world unites in open profession of the inescapable truth of its dependence on God, the universal creator – then mankind will have made definite strides back to God, and by the same token back to prosperity, peace and security."

- POPE PIUS XII Back

Web Counter