Holy Ghost Church — the spiritual hub of Richards Town, Bengaluru — was set up as a canonical unit of the Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of Bangalore in 1953. Today, it is the largest parish in Bengaluru’s
Cantonment area. Holy Ghost Church was born out of the vision to meet the spiritual needs of the people living in Richards Town and the surrounding area that the then Superior of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, Fr Matthew Hickey, conceived in 1951.
Prior to the building of the church, the Redemptorists (a Roman Catholic missionary congregation founded by Saint Alphonsus Liguori in Italy), resided in a small building at John Armstrong Road. The need for a larger church was felt and Fr Matthew Hickey went ahead with the idea of building a new church and even constructed a seminary to house aspiring Redemptorists.
The design of the church and the seminary was developed by Stanley Fernando, a young architect. This project, was met with many obstacles. However, the founding priests persevered relentlessly and with the support of many benefactors, it was completed in 1953. On May 24, 1953, Archbishop AS Colas, of Pondicherry, blessed and opened Holy Ghost Church on Pentecost Sunday,the feast of the Patron.
With a sprawling compound, the church’s magnificence is marked by the structure’s high ceiling, wide doors, spacious side wings and lofty galleries. The building was designed in the form of a dove. The body of the dove forms the church. One wing houses the seminary, while the other houses the seminary’s faculties of Theology and Philosophy and the Fathers of the parish. The imposing Crucifix on the wall of the expansive inner sanctuary is symbolic to the motto, ’With Him there is plentiful redemption’, of the Order of the Most Holy Redeemer. Though dedicated to the Holy Spirit, the Holy Ghost Church is widely popular across the City for a different reason: spreading the devotion to Mother Mary under the title ’Our Mother of Perpetual Help’.
This association goes back to the year 1855, when an original Icon of Mother Mary with her infant son, Jesus, in her arms — that was believed to be lost when Napoleon’s invading army destroyed the church in which the Icon was in — was rediscovered.
It was then that the Redemptorists requested the Pope, Pius IX, to enshrine it in its original spot, where they were building a church in honour of their founder. The Pope consented and entrusted the Icon to the Redemptorists with the mission to ”Make her known.” Since then, the Redemptorists have been zealously spreading devotion to Mother of Perpetual Help through this Icon across the globe.
The period between June 2015 and June 2016 was of special significance as Redemptorists worldwide celebrated the 150th anniversary of the Icon. Among the melange of special programmes that were organised, the pilgrimage was given a special thrust and devotees were encouraged to make a pilgrimage to the Church of Saint Alphonsus in Rome, where the Icon is enshrined. A reverse Pilgrimage of the Icon was also conducted around the world. Here, people take a replica of the Icon that is blessed by the Pope during the main celebration, to all Redemptorist Parishes. On October 19, the Icon made its appearance in Holy Ghost Church. The Church is located in the cuI-de-sac of Clarke-road, near Richards Park.