|St Mary's Basilica|
Name: St Mary's Basilica
Location: Shivajinagar Opposite Russel Market Square.
Main attraction: Ornate Gothic style Church
This Church situated opposite the Russel Market Square was built as a small chapel in 1818 by Abbe Dubois, oldest Church in Bangalore is the St Mary's Basilica in Shivajinagar which dates back to 1685. St Mary's Basilica, in its present form was bulit in 1875-82 at a total cost of about Rs 30,000.but was later converted into an ornate Gothic style Church by Rev. L.E.Kleiner. By 1882 a fairly large number of stained glass windows from Paris adorned the Basilica, but were removed during World War II. These were re-restored with great care in 1947. The Church was given the status of a Basilica (then the Sixth in India) in 1973 through a Papal order by Pope John Paul VI.
Bangalore was not a big city those days when Christianity entered Srirangapattana the capital city of the then Mysore province in the year 1648. But in Hyder Ali's tenure Bangalore has seen its first Church in the Kalasipalya locality somewhere in 1724–25. When Tippu Sultan ascended the throne the Christian missionaries have to recede from Mysore. So the history of Christianity in Mysore is in dark till 1799. In the year 1799, when the British seized Srirangapattana from Tipu Sultan, the French MEP priest Fr. Abbe du Bois arrived at Bangalore and started restoring the Christian religion. He went around Somanahalli, Kamanahalli, Begur, Gunjam, Palahalli, Doranahalli, Garenahalli, Shettyhalli etc and visited the Christian populace there extending them the spiritual needs. He is the one first introduced vaccination in India and is the author of the famous book “Hindu Manners, Customs and Ceremonies”. The mass vestments wore by Fr. Du Bois are still preserved in the church at Palahalli near Srirangapattana. He built a Chapel of thatched roof in 1803 at Bili Akki Palli or colloquially, Blackpally. and offered mass there and that structure was called Kaanike Mathe Devalaya (which in Kannada means the Church of Our Lady of Presentation).That small prayer place is the location where the basilica is currently present. When the Bangalore Cantonment was established, a mass was regularly held by Father Abbe Dubois which was attended by both European and Indian Christians. In 1813, Fr. Abbe Dubois with the help of Britishers modified and enhanced the chapel and renamed it as Church of our Lady of Purification, Blackpalli. Till the recent past the engraving of the year '1813' was seen in front nave of the old church where the miraculous statue is housed. He also created a residence for priests in the same year. It was subsequently pulled down in the year 1832 due to communal riots erupted there. Later it was rebuilt and during the years 1856–1882 it was called in its original name as the Church of our Lady of Presentation. Rev. L. E. Kleiner constructed the basilica in its current form of a majestic Gothic-style church. This new church was consecrated on September 8, 1882 by Bishop Jean-Yves-Marie Coadou, the vicar apostolic of Mysore, in the presence of 35 priests and 4,000 catholic Christians of Bangalore. The total amount spent on the construction of the church including the pulpit and statues was Rs. 29,659. With time, the church of St. Mary's at Blackpally had become a parish and has overseen the construction of other churches at Bangalore, prominent among them being St. Francis Xavier's Cathedral (1851), St. Joseph's Church (1867) and the Sacred Heart Church, Ashokanagara (1867). The church was elevated to the status of minor basilica in 1973 through an order by Pope Paul VI. It was the sixth church in India to be elevated to this status. The area of Blackpally is no longer known by that name and it is now called as Shivajinagara.
In ancient days, there was a well known ritual of parading the image of Virgin Mary in the streets. Once, this procession was stoned by a radical sect. Miraculously, the people who were involved in this condemnable act were struck by cholera and died of the disease.
Later, St. Mary's Basilica Church, Bangalore, was again attacked by an atrocious group of people who set it ablaze. Every thing was ruined save the wooden statue of Virgin Mary. Today this statue is kept with great care in a glass case.
Apart from this, another statue of Virgin Mary of a larger stature was erected and placed in a Chapel by the side of the main entrance of St Mary's Basilica Church, Bangalore in India. Every creed, may it be Hindu or Muslim, Sikh or Buddhist revere it and offer there homage to it.
At one point of time, it was decided that the statue of Virgin Mary would be shifted to another part of the St Basilica Church in Bangalore. But the Statue could not literally be removed from its place. Hence, it still stands in its original place. Due to these miracles, St. Mary's Basilica Church, Bangalore in India won the position of the sixth Basilica in 1973.
Unique characteristics of St Mary's Basilicas Church, Bangalore.
- St Mary's Basilica Church in Bangalore is the oldest church and was designed in the gothic architecture.