Francis Xavier, by far the most illustrious Jesuit to walk on Indian shores reached Bassein (north of Mumbai) in the year 1549. He was certainly not among the first missionaries to reach these parts. The Franciscans, Dominicans and Augustinians were already here. But with the coming of Xavier and the Jesuits there began a flurry of missionary activity in these lands. During the second half of the 16th century the Jesuits built an oratory on a hill in Bandra (now Mount Mary’s). They also built churches in Sandor (1567), Papdy (1574), Manickpur (1605), and various other places. From Bassein the Jesuits moved southwards to Thana, Pokhran, Powai, and Kondivita. Much of their time spent in these places was devoted to religious instruction, administering the Sacraments, and education in the arts & languages. The arrival of the Jesuits ushered in a religious and social revolution of sorts, the kind scarcely seen before in these parts.
An Ancient artefact from the Heras Insitute of Indian History & Culture, Mumbai
An artist's impression of an early Jesuit Church being planned in Bombay
Present-day ruins of the old Jesuit Church in Kondivita, SEEPZ