St. Teresa's Shrine Mahé, Puducherry

Introduction

St. Theresa Shrine stands as one of India’s oldest and most frequented Shrines, located within the Roman Catholic Church. Situated in Mahe, part of Kerala State but governed officially by Pondicherry, this Shrine was constructed in 1736 under the guidance of Father Ignatius. Historical records reveal that Italian Father Dominic of St. John arrived in Mahe in 1723, establishing the Mahe Mission during the reign of Bayanor, the King of Kadathanad near Vatakara. Initially dedicated to Father Dominic of St. John Cross, the Shrine housed a simple thatched complex, which underwent multiple renovations over time. It endured damage and destruction amid the Anglo-French rivalry until Abbe Duchenin undertook its restoration, shaping it into its present form. In 1956, additions such as St. Theresa’s Nursery, Primary School, Parish Hall, and a New Presbytery enriched the Shrine’s offerings. The annual Feast of the Shrine, celebrated every October, marks a significant occasion, drawing visitors from various parts of Kerala, Pondicherry, and even France, making it a cornerstone event in Mahe’s calendar.

According to historical records found in the Carmelite Archives at Rome, specifically in a document titled “De Missione Mahinensi in Malabaribus Commentarius” by Reverend Father Ignatius A.S. Hippolytes O.C.D, dated 2 July 1757, the Shrine at Mahe was established in 1736. This record also indicates that Italian Reverend Father Dominic of St. John of the Cross arrived in Mahe in 1723 during the reign of King Bayanor, the Raja of Kadathanad near Vatakara, and founded the Mahe Mission. Over time, a small Christian community emerged, leading to the dedication of the shrine to Father Dominic in December 1736, following the solemn ritual of the Roman Catholic Church. Initially constructed with thatched materials, the shrine underwent multiple modifications before officially becoming a place of worship in 1736.

The early and continued formation of the church and spiritual nurturing of the local community were supported by Carmelite Missionaries. Their efforts resulted in the baptism and integration into the Church of over 2000 adults, excluding children. However, during the wars between the French and British in 1736, the shrine suffered damage. Subsequently, in March 1779, it was further damaged or possibly destroyed. Around 1788, Abbe Duchenin undertook the renovation of the shrine, shaping its present form. Further renovations occurred in 1855 when the church tower was reconstructed and a clock, donated by the French Marines, was installed. In 1956, the shrine underwent another renovation and was electrified. In the following years, additional structures like the Avila Pilgrim Centre, Avila Bhavan (Sisters of Charity), St. Teresa’s Nursery and Primary School, Parish Hall, and a New Presbytery were added. Numerous modifications followed, with a major renovation in 2010.

Regarding the origin of the statue of St. Teresa, there are two prevailing beliefs. One suggests that the miraculous statue arrived via ship along the West Coast, which halted in present-day Mahe, indicating the will of St. Teresa of Avila for its enshrinement. The other tradition suggests that the statue was discovered in a fisherman’s net in the sea near Mahe.

The St. Theresa Shrine on Mahe Island showcases remarkable French-inspired architecture, including a tower and clock gifted by the French Marines in 1855. Within, visitors can admire a grand altar, marble columns, saint sculptures, and artworks illustrating St. Teresa’s story. Additionally, the shrine accommodates a museum exhibiting relics associated with the Carmelite order.

Services

Beyond its religious significance, St. Theresa Shrine offers visitors a wealth of educational and service opportunities. The pilgrim center provides accommodation, while a library boasts an impressive collection of spirituality and theology texts. The shrine also operates a nursery and primary school for underprivileged children and a convent for the Sisters of Charity, who work in social welfare programs.

Annual Feast Day

The Annual Feast Day of the St. Theresa Shrine in Mahe is celebrated from the second week (5th) to the fourth week (22nd) of every October, with the main days of the feast falling on the 14th and 15th of October each year.

Mass Timing

Weekly Masses :

Monday to Friday : 06.45 am Mass & 05.00 pm

Thursday : 06.45 am Mass & Novena

                10.30 am Mass, Novena & Adoration

                05.00 pm Mass

Weekend Masses :

Saturday : 06.45 am Mass & 05.00

Sundays : 06.45 am Mass, 09.15 am Mass

               10.45 am Mass for Catechism Children

               05.00 pm Mass

Church Visiting Hours

  • Monday to Sunday : 5:00 AM to 08:00 PM

Contact Info

PG3M+2R9,
I K Kumaran Master Rd,
Mahé, Puducherry
673310
India.

Phone No.

Phone: 0490-2332332

Connectivities

Airway

The nearest major airport to the St. Theresa Shrine, Mahe is Chennai International Kannur Airport. which is 33.5 km away from the Shrine.

Railway

The nearest Railway Station to the St. Theresa Shrine, Mahe is  Mahe  Railway Station. which is 1.5 km away from the Shrine.

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