The institution had a very humble beginning. From the first two destitute children
to the present strength of nearly two thousand students is a far cry, yet it is
a proof of the sound foundation and enlightened leadership that this institution
has been blessed with. It was on April 26th 1885 that Rev. Fr. Norbert, O.F.M. Cap.,
the then Parish Priest of St. Joseph’s Church, Hazratganj. [The present St. Joseph's
Cathedral] took under his protection ISSAC and CHARLES CLAUDIUS and started teaching
them himself. This posed to the good priest a serious problem but it was also a
germ that produced an idea. Realizing that his congregation was in dire need of
an educational institution for boys, he went about putting his plan into action.
were few and those that existed catered mainly to the British, the then rulers of
this country. From the pulpit and in his house to house visits to his parishioners,
the enterprising priest spoke of his scheme and appealed for help. Without means
and without funds he started St. Francis’ School and Orphanage. He knew no help
would be forth coming from Government yet he severed.
It was a bold step because in those early days schools of this kind
At first be converted a portion of his bungalow on the south-east of the church
ground into classrooms and a small thatched room that served as his kitchen and
store into a dormitory. Originally the Priest House at Hazratganj was situated on
the plot where Cathedral School now stands. Children started flocking in. Mr. J.
B. S. Boyle a |leading advocate of his time was generous with his advice and financial
assistance and Mr. H. A. Cosgrove the first full time teacher. Unfortunately on
26th March 1886, Father Norbert expired at a young age of forty years. He was succeeded
by Fr. Emmanuel Van den Bosch, a Belgian Capuchin who carried on the good work with
the same vigour. The school was still in its infancy but the rapid increase in enrolment
rendered necessary a new building programme. On Sunday, 4th May 1890, Fr. Bartholomew,
0. F. M. Cap., laid the foundation stone of St. Francis’ Boarding and Day School
The cost of Rs. 5,094 was paid by the Bishop of Allahabad, and some well wishers.
In 1893, Fr. Bartholomew built the new priest house on the site where the Bishop’s
House now stands and released tnc old presbytery to the school and served as the
In 1894, Fr Petronius Gramigna,0. F. M. Cap., later to become Bishop of Allahabad
brought the school under the Educational Department securing for it the recognition
of a Middle School. Constant additions and re-adjustments were being made to cope
with the continuous expansion but little could be done due to lack of funds and
space. In 1908 it was brought to the notice of the school authorities that a large
and extensive property together with a building in the centre was for sale. The
property was adjoining the church compound on Shahnajaf Road and was purchased,
the amount being paid for by Dr. Petronius Gramigna, the then Bishop of Allahabad.
The said property is the present site of St. Francis’ College.Fr. Celestine, 0.
F. M. Cap., was appointed Principal on 1st June 1910.
Young and eager, he submitted to the Educational Department a building project to
be erected, on the newly acquired land. Though the scheme was approved of by both
the Inspector of European Schools and Director of Public Education, sanction of
the building Grant was slow in coming. Too much precious time was used up in correspondence
and finalization of the Building Plan. Ultimately an amount of Rs. 85,410 was sanctioned
while the remainder of Rs. 35,557 had to be met by the Diocese.
On May 6th, 1915, Fr. Celestine laid the corner stones of two imposing and spacious
buildings on either side of the central bungalow. One building [present Concert
Hall] was meant to House the school hall and classrooms while the other [present
Gymnasium] was to be a dormitory for Boarders. In the foreground was the front field
[180 x 90 yards] suitable for games and other school functions. The building contract
was given to Messrs. P. Labanti and Company of Italy who despite the restrictions
and high cost of material due to the war years was able to complete the building
by January 1918.
On 7th February 1918, H. E. Sir James Meston, Lt. Governor of U. P. paid a State
visit to the new school. While construction work was going on the school authorities
were on the look out for more land. At the back of the out- houses was a large field
150 X 100 yards [Backfield] which was acquired for Rs. 6,644. The acquisition of
Dayal Bagh Land came next. Thus, St. Francis’ School was given its footing in a
large open space with healthy surroundings. In 1921; the school secured recognition
as a High School and affiliated itself to the Cambridge University for the Senior
Cambridge Examination. From the year on its course has been one of steady progress
both in the educational field as well as in building expansion. In 1923, Fr. Stephen,
0. F. M. Cap., set free the school hall for study purpose by the erection of the
Two years later in 1925, Fr. Celestine realised his long cherished dream by providing
the school with an Infirmary [Present Principal office and Staff Room] and Chapel.
In 1929, another urgent need was supplied by the erection and equipment of a Science
Laboratory (present Chemistry Laboratory and Balance Room). This was made possible
by a grant from the education department arida contribution by Bishop Poli. At the
death of Fr. Celestine on 1st April 1941, who had been Principal of St Francis’
High School for over 30 years, his place was taken by Fr.John Chrysostom, 0. F.
M. Cap., who went all out to provide new classrooms and remedy a long felt want.
So far the central building an old house, served as Principal’s and Headmasters
office. Principals and Disciplinarians living quarters in addition to housing the
library and classrooms. In front of the infirmary, on 12 October 1941, the foundation
stone of the St. John Chrysostom block in keeping with the style of the other buildings
was laid. Part of the cost was given by the Government and the rest by the mission.
It housed the Principals and Disciplinarians living quarters. Principal’s office
and some classrooms. About the same time in 1940, due to the rapid expansion of
the Church in North India, the Diocese of Allahabad became too big to be handled
by one man. Hence the Diocese of Lucknow was carved out and Fr. Conrad De Vito,
0. F. M. Cap., was appointed as its first Bishop. However due to the war the British
had interned all foreign missionaries at Dehradun and so it was not till 16th February
1947, that Fr. Conrad was consecrated as Bishop of Lucknow.
In post Independence year the school was ushered into a new era of progress and
expansion and brought in line with the new educational policy. The old central building
had become an eye sore and was pulled down, and a new double storey building containing
14 airy classrooms erected. The corner stone was blessed by Bishop Conrad De Vito
and was laid by Dr. Sampuranand, Minister of Education, U. P,, on August 2nd1947,
“as a pledge of co-operation between the Catholic Church and the State in the field
of education in the new and independent India” and declared open on 21st March1951
by H. E. Shri H. P. Mody, Governor of U. P. The new block was dedicated to Bishop
Poli as a mark of gratitude for his endeavours in the field of education during
his 50 years ministry, and for the keen interest he took in the school during his
32years as Bishop of Allahabad. The St. Francis’ Hospital and Charitable Dispensary
was officially opened on 8 February 1953, thus providing the school with a well
equipped and up to date infirmary making its former accommodation available for
the school library and Principal’s office. Since 1920 the school had dreamt of a
Quarters. On 6th July 1959, the Bishop had the satisfaction to bless the new Teachers’
Quarters at the entrance to the school compound. While these three major tasks were
being done the authorities did not lose sight of general improvements and minor
additions, to the already imposing pile of buildings.
New classrooms, a garage, re-modelling of the servant’s quarters were all part of
the integral plan of adaptation to present times. But demand for admissions was
relentlessly increasing. More classrooms were the need of the hour. Thus in 1963
an old-house at the back of the central building was pulled down and a three-storey
building containing eight classrooms, a study hall, a new unitary block, two large
dormitories and a library were constructed by the Principal Fr. Ramano, O.F.M. Cap.
The building was opened on 30th September 1963, by H. E.Shri B. N. Das, Governor
of U. P. The original dormitory was given wooden flooring and converted into a well
equipped and modern Gymnasium. In the same year the name of the Senior Cambridge
Examination was changed to Indian School Certificate Examination. In 1968 Fr. Romano
left for Italy after a long and faithful tenure in India. In recognition for the
service rendered to the school, the new Principal, Fr. Cyril, 0. F. M.Cap., instituted
the Fr. Ramano Merit Scholarship’ for poor Catholic students in recognition of the
work done by Fr. Alfred during his tenure as Principal from 1953 to 1958.In 1971
the school was handed over to the Diocesan Priests and Fr. Leo Lobo became the second
Indian to become the Principal of St. Francis’ School, the first being Pr. Raphel
who was Principal from 1949 to 1952.
In October of the same year Rt. Rev. Dr. Cecil De Sa, was consecrated as the second
Bishop of the Catholic Diocese Of Lucknow as a successor to Bishop Conrad DC Vito
who had expired in November the previous year. Still the demand for admission kept
increasing. In 1972 the St. John Chrysostom block was pulled down and the foundation
stone was laid for a junior block. The new two-storied block was completed in July
1974 and opened by Fr- Raymond in the absence of the Bishop. Meanwhile the Council
had decided to do away with the old I. S. C. Examination at the end of Class Eleven
and introduce the new 10+2 system with an examination at end of Class Ten (Indian
Certificate of Secondary Education called I. C. S. E.)
and another at the end of Class Twelve (Indian School Certificate examination called
I. S. C. (12) leading directly to University education. In 1975, the first batch
of I. C, S. E. students appeared for their examination. Since there was a lack of
Intermediate Colleges in Lucknow where our students could join; it was decided to
open classes eleven and twelve and the institution was re-christened St. Francis’
College in January 1976. But the Science Laboratories were small to meet these demands,
thus the existing laboratories were broken down and in its place a two storied structure
was put up.
In May 1977, Fr. Leo Lobo was transferred and Fr. Ignatius Menezes became Principal.
The Council had decided to change the scholastic year from January-December to April-March.
This made it necessary to have two short years, one from January-May in 1978 and
another from July-March in 1978-1979. In January 1979, Fr. Ignatius Menezes was
elevated to the rank of Bishop of Ajmer-Jaipur (the third Principal of St. Francis’
College to be given this honour) and Fr. Baptist D’Souza became Principal. Under
him the College saw many improvements. The entire front quadrangle and pathways
were paved, old-furniture periodically replaced and classrooms and buildings given
In July 1981, Fr. Baptist D’Souza was transferred and Fr. Oswald Lewis took over
the reins of office. In January 1984, Bishop Cecil de Sa was appointed Archbishop
of Agra and in September of the same year Bishop Alan de Lastic took over as the
third Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Lucknow. Meanwhile in 1983, a third storey
was added to the Junior block by Fr. Oswald Lewis. Today St. Francis’ College is
recognised but unaided Anglo-Indian College established and administered by the
Catholic Diocese of Lucknow, a charitable registered Society. It aims at imparting
modern education to catholic students in a manner that will preserve their religion;
language, script and culture but admission is not denied to students possessing
other faiths. The College provides education from Class I to Class XII and English
is its medium of instruction and examination.
It strives towards the integral and personal formation of young boys who will grow
into mature, spiritually oriented men of character. It encourages boys to keep their
ideals high and strive for excellence in every field. It endeavours to inculcate
into them the value of freedom and its judicious use. Besides catering to scholastic
needs the College attaches great importance to extra and co-curricular activities
in an attempt to produce physically and mentally alert citizens of India.
Late. P. A. J. Lewis (Old Franciscan – 1952 – 57)
Science Master 1971-1988