Basilica of Our Lady of the Assumption, Secunderabad
Basilica of our lady of the assumption is one among the oldest Roman Catholic churches of India. It was earlier called as the Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Hyderabad and is also known by the name St. Mary’s Church. It is a minor basilica located on Sarojini Naidu Road in Secunderabad and adjacent to the St. Ann’s High School. People from all faiths visit the Church attracted by its architectural beauty. Thus, the church is considered an essential landmark in Secunderabad region.
Dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the basilica plays a crucial role in the history of Catholics and celebrates its specific recognition as a Basilica. Popularly known for its historical importance and its Basilica status, the church receives thousands of visitors throughout the year from all over the country. The church plays a pre-eminent role in bringing people together through its celebrations of festivals. It organises all the festivals with pomp and piety, making it the attractions for visitors all over the country.
History of St. Marys Basilica
Formerly known as St. Mary’s Cathedral; Popularly know as St.Mary’s Church, Secunderabad Church, while it was the principal Church of the Vicariate of Hyderabad.
From 1500 till 1832, the Diocese of Hyderabad, then known as the Vicariate of Hyderabad, had small pockets of Christians, who were visited at irregular intervals by missionaries of Theatine Order and Carmelite Fathers.
It was in the year 1839 that Fr. Daniel Murphy at first searched for a place to build a church in Hyderabad, which was then the Capital of the Kingdom of Nizam, where no religion was looked kindly upon except Islam;
Secunderabad was therefore considered as an alternative site and in 1840, Fr. Murphy started building St. Mary’s Cathedral which was completed by 1850. He also built St.Francis Xavier Church in Bolarum in 1842. As years passed, Pope Gregory XVI raised Fr. Murphy to the office of Bishop and appointed him as the first Vicar Apostolic of Hyderabad on 20th May 1851 erecting Hyderabad as an independent Vicariate.
However, Sir Henry Pottinger, the British Resident appears to have crossed swords with Fr. Murphy and for almost two years refused to allow him to return to Secunderabad. Hence, the latter was obliged to live at Chaderghat on the Borders of the Nizams dominion with Fr. O’Brien, Fr. Drake and Fr. Hampson as his assistants.
Bishop Murphy opened the All Saints Seminary School to train native students for the Priesthood. It was opened first at Secunderabad and later transferred to Hyderabad in 1857. Bishop Murphy then applied to the PIME (Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions of Milan). Between 1857 and 1864 the PIME sent six Priests from Milan.
The Bishop invited the Sisters of Loretta to come to Secunderabad. The first group of two sisters arrived on December 21, 1856 but for medical reasons, they left for good in 1860. Bishop Murphy had to look after the Churches in far flung areas like Trimulgherry, Mudfort, Bolarum and Hyderabad. At that time, the British regiment was stationed at Secunderabad. The Catholic population went up to four figures.
Bishop Murphy was a good administrator with exemplary zeal. He left India in 1864 on grounds of ill health. He was sent to Australia where he was chosen Bishop of Tasmania in 1866. He passed away in 1907. Though the stated reason for his departure from Hyderabad was said to be ill health, the real reason was buried with him in his grave in Tasmania. With the sudden departure of Fr. Murphy, The Vicariate was vacant for almost two years.
Fr. Barbero Dominico PIME (1855-82) who was already working in Hyderabad Mission was appointed the next Vicar Apostolic in 1864. He too proved to be a good administrator and he invited the Sisters.