Bandel Church, Bardhaman
About Bandel Church
Around the middle of the 16th century, the Portuguese began using Bandel as a port. During or around 1571, they were given permission by Akbar, the Mughal emperor, to build a town in Hooghly. As they began settling around the area, their priests began to baptise the natives - by 1598, Catholics in Hooghly numbered around five thousand, including natives and mixed races. In 1579, the Portuguese built a port on the banks of the Hooghly, as well as a fort, and enlisted the services of a band of Augustinian Friars, then the largest religious body in Goa. The following year, Captain Pedro Tavares obtained the emperor's full permission to preach the Catholic faith publicly, and erect churches. Thus the Bandel Church came to be constructed in 1599.This first church was burnt down during the sacking of Hooghly by the Moors in 1632. A newer church, constructed by Gomez de Soto (also spelt John Comes de Soto), was built over the ruin in 1660. The keystone of the older church can still be seen on the eastern gate of the monastery, bearing the date 1599.On November 25, 1988, Pope John Paul II declared the sanctuary a minor basilica.