September 7, 2009

St Mary's Basilica

View photo's of Mary's Feast 2010 Here

St. Mary’s Basilica is a spacious gothic Church, designed by a French architect and built in the form of a Cross. It is 172 feet long and 50 feet broad. The imposing and magnificent tower forming the façade of the Church is 160 feet high.

A beautiful statue of Mother Mary holding Child Jesus in her arms which is 6 feet in height is set up in an attractive shrine just outside the Church building. It is the chief object of veneration and source of inspiration for the people.

Every day, Our Mother Mary is draped in a ‘Saree’ the typical dress of the Indian lady.

It is said that in 1875 when the new Church was built, people tried to remove this statue in order 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 even today as a sign of Our Lady’s miraculous power.

St Mary's Basilica is one of the oldest church in Bangalore, It dates back to 17th Century. and has quite a history behind it. It is said that few Christians came from Ginjee, of Tamil Nadu, found that the land was fertile to sow white rice and began to settle down and built a small village. This village took the name ‘Bili akki palli’ because it is said that the rice they cultivated was white and also because a number of white birds were found in those rice fields. The people in order to practice their religion built a thatched hut and named it as ‘CHAPEL OF KANIKKAI MADHA’ ("CHAPEL OF VIRGIN MARY")

In 1811 Fr. Jean Dubois built a small chapel with a residence for priests. Later on, Rev. Fr. Andreas an Indian priest from Pondicherry succeeded him and he expanded the Church building in the shape of Cross, with a hall facing East and West and with two aisles North and South.

After some years great plague had spread through out and people sought the intercession of Mother Mary to relieve them from the clutches of disastrous death. Mother Mary interceded the victims’ prayers and the plague vanished from the vicinity. Since she cured the people from the dreadful disease and gave them good health, she was also called as ‘Annai Arokiamarie’ (Our Lady of Good Health) and it remains the same till date.

Busy streets of shivajinar and beautifully illuminated church

The present Church of St. Mary’s built by Rev. Fr. Kleiner was solemnly consecrated on 8th September 1882 by Msgr. Joannes Maria Y. Coadou, Vicar Apostolic of Mysore, in the presence of 35 priests and about 4000 Catholics of Bangalore. It is interesting to note that, all the other parishes of Bangalore were born out of this ancient parish of St. Mary’s Church.

Due to an increase in the population, and more devotees flooding to visit the Shrine of Our Lady, the space that was available for the devotees to stand and pray was found to be very congested. At this juncture, a hall like structure was constructed facing east and placed the statue of Our Lady in a prominent place. This enabled thousands of devotees to see her without any hindrance and pray to her more devotedly.

The Main feast 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 by the people, not only as the Feast of the Parish, but also for the whole of the Archdiocese and State of Karnataka.

In preparation to the Feast, nine days novena is observed, wherein Holy Masses are celebrated through out the day starting from 5 am, in which thousands of people participate with devotion (including me). Throughout the Feast the devotees are found to be dressed in ‘Saffron’ clothing.

Flag Which is hoisted on the first day of Novena

On the first day archbishop blesses the flag and joins the Chief Guests in hoisting the flag. This hoisting of the flag symbolizes that our hearts too are to be raised towards the Almighty God with the perpetual help of Our Lady. Thousands of people gathered around the flag post, join in singing the praise of Mary Our Mother – ‘Ave Maria’ (Praise to Mary) and the song fills the air (the experience is something hard to explain in words). As per tradition, the flag is hoisted everyday, beginning from the Flag Hoisting day till the ninth day of Novena.

On the Feast day, September 8th people gather in Lakhs, without any distinction of caste, creed or religion, not only from all parts of Bangalore, but also from all over India to pay their homage to Our Lady. The whole city embraces the festive mood on that day. Through out the day people flock in with lighted candles and flowers to pray and thank Mother Mary. In the evening, around 5.00 p.m., a grand car procession – a chariot carrying the 6 feet statue of Mother Mary, draped in a wonderful silk saree, with spectacular illuminations and decorations, is carried on the streets of Shivajinagar.

Some More pictures
Chapel of Eucharistic Adoration

Picture of Jesus Christ inside the Chapel of Eucharistic Adoration

I will rise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father i have sinned again the heaven and before thee. St Luke. XV 18



  1. This is truly a magnificent church Samson. I love the night shots of it. I would think that the saree is so easy to wear but I am know sure if I could ever get it wrapped around me properly. It take years of practice I think. But they are the most beautiful colours and the ladies always look cheerful in them.

  2. Wow! Great post!
    I have never seen the inside. Beautifully explained too.

  3. What a magnificent church, indeed! And what a marvelous and photos! And thank you for all the information about this beautiful place! Much appreciated!

    Have a lovely day!


  4. wonderful post indeed! the images enhance the history narrated...
    in mumbai too the feast is celebrated on 08sep at mount mary in bandra and the bandra fair starts on the 1st sunday following the feast!

  5. You have captured the church and its interiors beautifully.

  6. Thanks Indrani, love your blog too :)

  7. @ Sylvia, magiceye and Rajesh

    Thanks you

  8. Such beautiful photos. I love the flowers around the statue. Such a grand place.

  9. lovely photos and narration....very rich!