• A Cinema

    The building that now houses St Francis of Assisi church was originally a cinema, the Gaiety, built no doubt in the days when movie theatres were popular and profitable all over the Caribbean. By the mid 1950’s however, the Gaiety cinema’s heyday was over and the building was acquired by Father Thomas Pearson (1906-1983), an English Jesuit priest who was part of the Jesuit mission in British Guiana (Guyana), where he lived and worked from 1939 until 1954, when he was transferred to Barbados.

  • Catholic Church

    Fr. Pearson acquired the Gaiety cinema in order to establish a catholic parish on the west coast of Barbados. One of the pioneers of Catholic churches in Barbados, Fr Pearson also started the parish of Black Rock and the Mass centre at Verdun.

  • St Francis of Assisi

    It is said that the Jesuit superior of the Guyana mission as well as Fr Pearson himself wanted the church dedicated to St Francis Xavier, a Jesuit saint, but Bishop Justin Field O.P., of St George’s, Grenada, would have none of that and decided instead that the church would be dedicated to St Francis of Assisi. Thus, on the 22nd February, 1958, Bishop Field consecrated the altar and dedicated the church to St Francis of Assisi.

  • No Jesuit Saints

    In 1960 Fr Pearson built Besant House, the church’s presbytery, in what had been the parking lot for the cinema. This has since served as home for the parish priest(s) as well as a holiday house for visiting Jesuits of the Guyana mission over the years. It was built with a generous donation from Mrs. Mary Constance Arnold. In the same year (1960) the Mass centre Fr Pearson started in Black Rock became the large church of Mary Queen of the Universe. Fr Pearson had originally named it for St Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus, but the same Dominican bishop of Grenada changed the dedication. No Jesuit saints for him!

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    In 1965 Fr Archibald Prime, S.J. (1909-1994), also from the Guyana mission, succeeded Fr Pearson as parish priest for one year, before moving to St Joseph’s Hospital, Ashton Hall, St Peter. He was followed as parish priest at St Francis by a succession of three Jesuits from Guyana over the next four years: Fr Francis Edgecombe S.J. (1909-1985), Fr Leo Buckley S.J. and Fr Joseph Dinley S.J.

  • A Puppet in Church

    Fr Prime then returned to St Francis in 1970 and remained as parish priest for ten years. Somewhat of an eccentric, his main claim to fame was a puppet that he used in his homilies. Some people loved it and some couldn’t stand the gimmick! He was appreciated by his fellow Jesuits as an excellent guest master.

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  • St Francis of Assis

    No History Recorded

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