The timeless charm of Bandra lies in its 8 churches whose Bells have chimed for 500 years, from the rustic 16th century to the urban din of the 21st century. How Bandra evolved into the spiritual capital of Bombay is the stuff of history. It all began in 1534, when the island of Salcette, containing Bandra came under Portuguese rule. In 1568, Bandra was assigned to the Portuguese Jesuits. At first, the Jesuits made hardly any progress in their evangelical mission, until Brother Manoel Gomes, the Apostle of Salcette, arrived on the scene. With his knowledge of local language and customs, by 1580, two thousand persons were baptized and this number multiplied from year to year till in 1603, practically the whole of Bandra was Catholic.
In 1575, a church, described as the “biggest and best of all those in the island of Salcette”, was being built through the generosity of “a wealthy lady of good social standing”. There is evidence gathered from the indulgence granted to the faithful by Pope Clement VIII that the Hermitage of St. Andrew existed in 1601. In the 400 (and counting) years, the Church withstood natural disasters and political turmoil. In 1618, a cyclone blew off the entire roof! It was closed just once between 1740 and 1749 during the Maratha invasion. Thereafter, the secular clergy took charge and the Church has continued to evolve to the present day.After the engineered blow-up by the British, to save Bandra’s first church, the Church of Santa Ana from the Maratha invasion, in 1739, the Church of St. Andrew was the only church left to administer to the spiritual needs of the Catholics of Bandra. This was a vast area extending in the north as far as Juhu and included Santa Cruz and Khar, till about 1853. After this date, Bandra acquired the rest of the churches in the Bandra Deanery.