St. Mary’s Basilica, Bangalore. India.
Built in 1882, St. Mary’s Basilica is the oldest church in Bangalore and is the only church in the state that has been elevated to the status of a minor basilica. It is famous for the festivities it holds during the St. Mary’s Feast, in September each year, an event which attracts a large number of devotees from in and around Bangalore. It is a marvellous sight to behold with its towering façade, glass windows and the loving statues of Mother Mary. It is a generous throwback to the colonial era of Indian history and restores the traditional faith of Christianity till date with elaborate feasts, masses done in different languages and the annual celebration of Mother Mary’s nativity day.
St. Mary’s Basilica is a spacious gothic-style Church built in the form of a cross, designed by a French architect. It is 172 feet long and 50 feet broad. The imposing and magnificent tower forming the facade of the Church is 160 feet in height. A beautiful statue of Mother Mary holding Child Jesus in her arms, 6 feet in height, is set up in an attractive shrine just outside the Church building.
Every day, Our Mother Mary is draped in a saree, which is the typical dress of an Indian lady. It is said that when the new Church was built, people tried to remove this statue to install it on a prominent altar inside the Church, but they failed in their effort since the statue remained immovable. This strange happening is considered to date a sign of Our Lady’s miraculous power. The Main Feast of the Church is celebrated with all grandeur on the 8th of September, the Feast day of the Nativity of Blessed Virgin Mary, every year. This feast is considered one of utmost importance by the people, in the whole of the Archdiocese and the state of Karnataka.
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History of St. Mary's Basilica
The church has had a very developmental history through the passage of time. It was set up by Fr. Jean Dubois, a Catholic priest, in the year 1811 as a small chapel in the town then known as “Bili Akki Palli”. The chapel was then known as the ‘Chapel of Kanikkai Madha’ or ‘Kaanike Mathe Devalaya’. The church was then enlarged in the year 1813 but had to be built again from the year 1856-1882 as it was destroyed in the communal riots during the 1830s. The new structure of St. Mary’s Basilica was then planned by Bishop Jean-Yves-Marie Coadou in the years to follow, to be finally given the title of “Minor Basilica” in the year 1973.
Architecture of St. Mary's Basilica
The architecture of St Mary’s Basilica is inspired by the Gothic Style, as the church stand 160 feet tall with its stained glass windows, ornamental motifs and beautiful arches adorning the walls. There is a bigger statue of Mother Mary with baby Jesus just at the porch of the church, who is draped with the traditional Indian women’s attire of sari every day. This statue earned the name of being immovable as the builders could not shift it during the construction of the new church.