Monday 10 December 2012

The oldest church in Bangalore

This church predates the occupation of Bangalore by the British. Though it was originally built in the 16th century, it took its present shape only in the mid-1800s.
Today, this institution is renowned in Bangalore and elsewhere and it has become a landmark of Bangalore. Known as the St. Mary’s Basilica in Shivajinagar, this Catholic edifice  draws thousands of devotees every day and the St. Mary’s feast held every September is a big draw.
It is the only church in Karnataka to be elevated to the status of a minor bacilica.
In south Karnataka, Christianity first made its presence when Christian priests entered Srirangapatnam in 1648. The first church to be built in Bangalore was the Drummers' Chapel, in Kalasipalya in 1724-25.
After Tipu ascended the throne of Mysore, Christian missionaries were forced to flee Mysore and it was only after his death that the missionaries reappeared. In 1799, when the British defeated and killed Tipu Sultan, a French priest, Abbe du Bois, arrived in  Bangalore to preach Christianity.
He went around the small towns of  Somanahalli, Kamanahalli, Begur, Gunjam, Palahalli, Doranahalli, Garenahalli and  Shettihalli   and preached Christianity. He was one of the first persons to introduce vaccination in India and he also wrote a book “Hindu Manners, Customs and Ceremonies”.
The mass vestments worn by Du Bois are still preserved in the church at Palahalli near Srirangapatna. He built a chapel with a thatched roof in 1803 at Bili Akki Palli or colloquially, Blackpally. and conducted mass there.
The chapel was initially called Kaanike Mathe Devalaya (Church of Our Lady of the Presentation). This is the chapel where St. Mary’s Bascilica stands.
When the British built the Cantonment in 1809,  mass was regularly held by Abbe du Bois which was attended to by both European and Indian Catholics. In 1813, he modified and rebuilt the chapel with help from the British and renamed it as the Church of the Purification of Our Lady, Blackpalli.
The engraving of the year “1813” could be seen till recently in the front nave of the old church where the “miraculous statue” is housed.
It was L. E. Kleiner who constructed the basilica in its present Gothic form and it was consecrated on September 8, 1882 by Bishop Jean-Yves-Marie Coadou, the Vicar Apostle of Mysore.
The total amount spent on the construction of the new church. including the pulpit and the statues, was Rs. 29,659.
The church later became a parish and has since overseen the construction of other churches in Bangalore, including St. Francis Xavier's Cathedral (1851), St. Joseph's Church (1867) and Sacred Heart Church, Ashoknagar (1867).
The church was elevated to the status of a minor basilica in 1973 through an edict issued by Pope Paul the sixth. It was the sixth church in India to be elevated as a bascilica. Today, the name Blackpalli has disappeared and the area is now known as Shivajinagar.
St Patrick's Church on Brigade Road is the second oldest church in the city the foundation for which was laid in July 1841. Father Chevalier was responsible for building the church, which was later  consecrated as a cathedral in 1899.
It was renovated during 1894-98 and on November 12, 1899 the church was consecrated as St. Patrick Cathedral. It has a beautiful arched entrance flanked by twin columns. The interior of the church has twelve pillars, symbolising the twelve Apostles
There are several other churches in Bangalore with their own history.
The Trinity Church at the end of MG Road was built for the Anglicans and the St. Marks Cathedral on the same road at the other end is yet another landmark. St. Patrick’s Church was
originally built for Irish Catholic soldiers and St. Andrew’s, on the Cubbon Road for the Scottish soldiers.
The Catholic Cathedral is St. Xaver’s, a large granite
building. The London Mission constructed the Hudson Memorial Church which is near the BBMP office.
St. John’s Church is the fourth oldest Protestant church in Bangalore. When the British took over the Bangalore Fort,  they built a small chapel called the “Drummer’s Chapel” in 1803. In 1812 this was shifted outside the Fort and became the present St. Luke’s Church.
When the British set up Bangalore Cantonment at Ulsoor in 1809, they wanted a big Anglican Church to meet the needs of the British officials. This led to the construction of the  St. Mark’s Church in 1808 and it opened for worship in 1812. It was consecrated by Bishop Turner of Calcutta in 1816.
W.W. Lutyens, the chaplain of the St. Mark’s Church, built the Holy Trinity Church in 1848 at the other end of the Parade Ground ridge of the Cantonment (MG Road).
This church was built in the style of English Renaissance and it was designed by Major Pears. This is considered to be the largest military church on south India which can accommodate 700 people at a time.
Some of the other old churches in Bangalore include the St. Luke's (Fort, 1830), the St. Joseph's (Briand Square, 1857), the St. Patrick's (Brigade Road, 1844), the Sacred Heart's (Richmond Road, 1874).
The St. Andrews Church, a Protestant institution, on Cubbon Road was built in 1967. This is the only Scottish kirk in Bangalore. The stained glass windows depict Jesus and his eight apostles. The walls of the church are adorned with polished brass plaques and a pipe organ installed in 1881 is still there.
The East Parade church on Dickenson Road was built in  1862, Wesley Church (Promenade Road, 1896) and Hudson Memorial in 1904.
Bangalore is also home to the biggest church in India-the Infant Jesus Church at Vivek Nagar.
This church has become a pilgrimage centre. It was first conceived by Paul Kinatukara in the sixties and the foundation was laid on April 1970 by Dr. Lourduswamy, the then Archbishop of Bangalore. The church opened to devotees in 1979, to honour the divine Infant Jesus of Prague.
This church has a fan shaped hall which can accommodate about 2500 people. It has 9 faces and openings all round the church. People seated anywhere in the interior feel that the altar is facing them. The replica of the nativity scene in the nativity church of Jerusalem is the main mural here.
Bangalore today has 50 churches covering diverse Christian communities, such as the Roman Catholic Church, the ancient Syrian Church of Kerala and its reformed counterpart, the Mar Thoma Church, Protestants from the Church of South India (which includes Anglicans, Lutherans and others) and newer evangelical groups with links to the United States.

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