The Cathedral of the Sacred Heart on Connaught Place in New Delhi is one of the oldest Christian establishments and among a few in India which have a connection with your favorite coffee drink, the Cappuccino. 

Who would have thought while sipping Cappuccino at a café in Connaught Place that their cup of coffee would have a strange bond with a church just a few miles away at the junction of Bhai Vir Singh Marg Road and Bangla Sahib Road.

Built in the early 1930s in an Italian style, the cathedral of the Sacred Heart was envisioned by Father Luke, a member of the Franciscan first order founded by the followers of the poor man of Assisi, Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone who is also known as St. Francis of Assisi.

The Franciscan order founded in 1209 consisted of three groups of religious orders – for men, for women, and the third was open to both men and women. But how do all these relate to your favorite coffee drink?

To know that  we have to go back to the 16th century when disharmony grew in the Franciscan order, and some believed that the Order had strayed away from the path originally intended by St. Francis.

So, in 1525 Matteo da Bascio, a native of the Marche region in Italy, formed the Order of Friars Minor. Bascio’s intention was to return to the ways of solitude and penance as envisaged by St. Francis. The order was not initially recognized by the church and Bascio and his followers had to go into hiding.

They were given refuge by the Camaldolese monks of Mount Corona. Later as the Order was recognized as a mark of gratitude, it adopted the hood capuche, which was a mark of the hermits, and reformed as the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin.

Now it’s believed that some time after the battle of Vienna between the Ottoman Empire and the Holy Roman Empire in 1638, Marco d’Aviano, a Capuchin monk, invented a new drink by mixing coffee with milk or cream.

It came to be known as the Cappuccino which had reference to the capuchin monks and the brown attires they famously adorn.

The Order made their way to Pondicherry  and Goa in India in the 1630s. Though many of their early attempts to establish their presence were not successful they still continued to work in parts of the country such as Agra, Patna, and Delhi.

They established their first Novitiate house in Mussoorie in 1888, and though it had to be closed down they were able to establish another one in Sardhana in 1922. Today the order has a considerable presence in Delhi, Agra, Mangalore, and Goa.

The Cappuccino, on the other hand, made its way to India a lot later with the coming of indigenous and global players into the Indian beverage market. Today it has become a popular drink among all age groups.

It’s fascinating that a cup of coffee can blend so much flavor with centuries worth of stories from far away corners of the world. 


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