The Catholic Church in India had long felt the need of adding a Medical College to the many educational and social welfare institutions through which, over the years, it has served the country. However, the complexities such a venture involved, delayed its active consideration until the proposal was pursued by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India. At the request of the C.B.C.I., the late Archbishop of Madras, the Most Rev. Louis Mathias, SDB, prepared and presented a report in 1954, in which he reviewed the total requirement of the project. In 1956, Archbishop Mathias with the aid of medical and financial experts, submitted a comprehensive scheme to the Conference and in September 1960, the C.B.C.I. took the decision to establish a Medical College, with an attached hospital at Bangalore.
His Holiness Pope John XXIII agreed to the College being called after his Patron, St. John the Baptist, as a mark of his personal interest in the project, and of his approval of its aims and ideals. The College was, accordingly, named “St. John’s Medical College” and opened in temporary premises at Bangalore in July 1963.
In the course of their Joint Pastoral issued in connection with the XXXVIII International Eucharistic Congress, held in Bombay in 1964, the Catholic Bishops of India announced their choice of the College Project as the Chief Memorial of the Congress. This choice received the warm approval of His Holiness, Pope Paul VI, which was conveyed by him in a special message addressed to His Eminence, Valerian Cardinal Gracias, the then President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India and President of the CBCI Society for Medical Education. His Holiness has also established a scholarship in the College in his own name, to be awarded, each year, to the best all-round student completing the MBBS course.
The Corner Stone of the Project was blessed by His Holiness Pope Paul VI at Bombay during the principal function of the Eucharistic Congress, held on December 3, 1964, at which he officiated. It was laid at the Project site on July 27, 1965 by His Excellency Shri V.V. Giri, the then Governor of Karnataka, and later, President of India. On the completion of the buildings, the College was dedicated to the cause of Medical Education, Research and Care, on September 29, 1968, at a ceremony presided over by the late President of India, His Excellency, Dr. Zakir Hussain.
Prior to the completion of these buildings, the College was located in the premises of St. Mary’s Industrial School and Orphanage, which were made available by His Grace Archbishop Thomas Pothacamury of Bangalore for the teaching of pre-clinical and para-clinical subjects. St. Martha’s Hospital conducted by the Sisters of the Good Shepherd Congregation was affiliated to the College for Clinical Teaching. The Hospital was extended and suitably equipped for the purpose. This hospital provided a practical example of the spirit of service and sacrifice, which the College strives to make its own and carry beyond itself, to the homes of the patients and the community, both in the urban and in the rural areas. The affiliation of this Hospital to the College has been discontinued from 1983.
Campus : In June 1968, five years after its establishment, the College moved to its permanent campus on a 140 acres site situated in the periphery of the city of Bangalore. During the first phase of construction, the following were completed: the teaching centre (housing the preclinical and para-clinical departments and lecture theatres); four blocks of students' hostel; and some residences for the teaching staff.