St. Aloysius College Chapel

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St. Aloysius College Chapel is situated in the heart of the city on the lighthouse hill about a kilometer away from Nehru Maidan Bus stand. It is well connected by all kinds of surface transport. This architectural gem is a 'must see' for anybody visiting Mangalore. 

The Church was built in the year 1899-1900.  The walls of the church are covered with the paintings of the artist Anthony Moscheni of Italy. It is comparable with the Sistine chapel in Rome. The special beauty of the chapel is the wonderful series of paintings that virtually cover every inch of the interior roof and walls executed by Bro. Moscheni trained in Italy. 

The central row of paintings on the ceiling depicts the life of Aloysius Gonzaga to whom this College and Chapel is dedicated. This young man who gave his life in the service of others is given as a model to the 5,000 young people studying on this campus. Aloysius had everything that a young man of his age desires. He had wealth, power and influence. But he gave them up in order to serve others, especially the most needy. Our students are asked to imbibe his spirit of service. 

His earlier life is shown in the first three panels from the rear, some of the paintings are 
  • Aloysius as a child promising at the Altar of Mary in Florence to dedicate his life to God.
  • Aloysius preaching about God to his townsfolk.
  • The first communion of Aloysius.
  • The fifth panel shows Aloysius seeking admission to the Jesuit Order.
The rest of his life is depicted on the wall above the altar. The central picture depicts him serving the plague stricken in Rome. Aloysius volunteered to help the plague stricken. He contracted the disease and died, at the young age of 23 years. 
On the panels of the sloping portion of the ceiling are portrayed the Apostles. Note the garlands weaving through the different panels. No two garlands have the same flowers. The angels who hold the garland are life size. The Series of the Upper Arches, depict saints of the Church. The lower arches depict Jesuit saints
Some of those paintings are 
  • ST. THOMAS, Apostle of India, with a spear in his hand is on the third left panel.
  • ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI, Patron of environmentalists is on 3rd right arch.
  • ST. PETER CLAVER, the Apostle of the Negroes, who served the slaves when they arrived in Cartagena, making them feel through his care and love that they were his equals is on fourth left arch.
  • BL. RUDOLF AQUAVIVA. He had gone to the Court of Akbar, and was there held in high esteem. 
  • ST JOHN DE BRITTO, the first missionary to wear the dress of a sanyasi as a sign of inculturation. He was a scholar who studied Sanskrit, Tamil and Indian customs.
The painting on the rear wall shows Jesus as the friend of children. It is considered to be the masterpiece of Moscheni. Due to seepage of rain water the painting was covered with fungus and calcium carbonate crystals. It has now been restored but a patch of the unrestored painting has been left untouched below the woman seated at the right. 
There are many paintings which take up the life of. Jesus. 

THE BIRTH OF OUR LORD on Christmas night. Observe the play of light and shade: the illumination originates from the baby Jesus. 

JESUS, is baptised by ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST, in the River Jordan. Notice how the play of light and shadow bring out the depth of the river: it seems to be flowing. 

THE WEDDING FEAST OF CANA, where Jesus changed the water in the six pitchers into wine. 
 

THE CRUCIFIXION OF JESUS between two thieves on Calvary. MARY, the Mother of Jesus and MAGDALEN, are at the foot of the Cross. A soldier, LONGINUS, pierces with a lance the side of Jesus. Observe the artist's controlled use of light effects to show that there was darkness and lightening. 

THE MAKING OF A MASTERPIECE 

How the Chapel was painted: 
There are two types of paintings in the Chapel: fresco and canvas. A fresco is painted on fresh wet lime plaster walls. The colours get embedded in the lime plaster as it dries up. Frescos cover about 600 square rnetres of the walls of the Chapel. For an oil painting, the colours are made by mixing pigments with linseed oil. The canvas is made of pure linen of strong close weave. The paintings on the ceilings in the Chapel (about 400 Square Metres) are in oil on canvas. 

The Restoration of the Paintings: 
In recent times the paintings have suffered damage due to the humidity and dust. The stitches of the canvases had given way. The canvases were taken down with the help of a special cradle, the dust was removed, the pieces were restitched, the joints were reinforced with tapes. After restretching the canvas on the frame the paintings were put back in place. The work of restoration was done by specialists of INTACH - ICI Lucknow from 1991 to 1994 under the guidance of Dr O.P.Agrawal. 

Antonio Moscheni was born in a village called Stezzano near Bergamo in Italy on January 17, 1854. Fortunately for him, his artistics were discovered early and he was sent to the famed Accademia Carrara in Berganeo. He studied under able masters and acquired considerable proficiency in the art of painting. He then went to Rome to study the masterpieces of the Vatican. Fresco painting now became his passion. In 1889, Antonio renounced the pro of a brilliant career and took up religous work. But his religious superiors did not wish his talents to be buried,  ordered him to paint several churches in his native place. They then sent him to Mangalore to the Chapel of St. Aloysius College. It took him a little over two to cover the walls and ceilings of the Chapel with paintings.