JESUIT PRESENCE IN RAJASTHAN
The Jesuit mission to the north of India goes back to 1580. In the year 1579, Emperor Akbar invited Jesuits from Goa to visit his court, mainly to get Catholic debaters for an interfaith forum held regularly in the palace at Fatehpur Sikri. The first Jesuits arrived at the Mughal court in 1580. In the initial stages the Mughal mission, which lasted with two interruptions till 1773, was directed by two accomplished missionaries, Rudolfo Aquaviva (1550-83) and Fr. Jerome Xavier (1549-1617), the grandnephew of St. Francis Xavier.
Approximately a century and a half after their arrival at Fatehpur Sikri, the Jesuits made inroads to Rajasthan. They first came to Jaipur in 1729 at the invitation of Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II in order to help him set up an astronomical observatory known as Jantar Mantar at his then new capital of Jaipur.
The Jesuits came back to Jaipur in 1941, the 400th anniversary year of St. Francis Xavier‘s arrival to India, at the invitation of the Ajmer bishop and Mirza Ismail, the then prime minister of Jaipur. The bishop offered them St. Mary’s School at Ghat Gate, which was started in 1941 under the patronage of the Bishop of Ajmer by Fr. Ignatius OFM, Cap. Later, in 1945, the school was shifted to its present site renaming it as St. Xavier’s School. To coordinate the educational venture of the Jesuits, in 1950, the Jaipur Xavier Educational Association (JXEA), was established as a trust maintained by the members of the Delhi Province of the Society of Jesus.
Training of the economically poorer sections of society had been a priority of the Jesuits throughout their history. This commitment was reemphasized in the 32 General Congregation of the Society of Jesus which concluded in March 1975. Pursuing this goal, in 2006 JXEA started Xavier Vocational Institute (XVI) to give vocational training to the economically poorer sections of society. Expanding the boundaries of its educational goals, in 2010 the JXEA, in collaboration with the Xavier Alumni and the well wishers of Jaipur, launched the Higher Education Program by starting the St. Xavier’s College, Jaipur, affiliated to the University of Rajasthan.
From the beginning, it was the dream of the JXEA to provide quality education to as many as possible. The government of Rajasthan came to the help by offering land at Nevta, at the outskirts of the city, at a subsidized prize.
St. Xavier’s College at Hathroi Fort Road grew rapidly, increasing the demand for more space – both built-up space and open space. As the construction of the first phase of the educational complex at Nevta was complete, the new college offering Pass Course in Science, Arts, Commerce and Business Administration was started in 2015.