Awe-inspiring St. Mary's church. Bangalore - a colonial legacy

 St. Mary's Basilica is one among the oldest churches in Bangalore and was the first one in the city.  It was first built  in 1818 as a small Chapal  in a place called ‘Blackpally’’ (now Shivaji Nagar) with a thatched roof  called Kanikkai Madha by the Tamil migrants from the town of Gingee, Tamil Nadu.  The name of the place Blackpally is derived from John Blakiston (1785-1867), who designed the layout of the Bangalore Cantonment, according to Historian Aruni. This colonial church is symbolic of rejuvenation and reorganization  of Christianity in Mysore state after the death of ruler Tipu Sultan. 

St. Mary's Basilica, Bangalore.

In the 18th  century,
during  Hyder Ali's reign in 1724-25, the  first Church, Drummers' Chapel in the Kalasipalya locality of Bangalore  came into being. In those days, Bangalore was not a city and was just a small town. When Hyder Ali's son Tipu Sultan became the ruler, he hated the British and  their dishonesty and arrogance. He was against the Christian community living in that region because he mistook them for the supporters / spies of unjust British East India Company.  It was after his death in 1799 in the final battle against the British at Srirangapatna, and with the establishment of Cantonment in Bangalore, more native Christians moved in here including many European families.

Jean-Antoine DuboisEncyclopedia Britannica

Above image:  Abbe J.A. Dubois alias  Jean-Antoine Dubois (January 1765 – 17 February 1848) was a French Catholic missionary in India, and member of the 'Missions Etrangères de Paris'. He followed the customs of  Hindus and looked like an Indian ascetic. He wrote a book, "Hindu manners, customs and ceremonies", a valuable work of  Indology.  It was after the fall of Srirangapatam in 1799, he went to Mysore to reorganize the Christian community that had been shattered by Tipu Sultan, who destroyed many churches there.Fr. Dubois was one of the first to  introduce vaccination in India .............

St. Mary's Basilica, Bangalore..

Fr. Jean Dubois in 1811 built a small chapel along with residence for the catholic priests. Later Rev. Fr. Andreas, a priest from Pondicherry of Indian origin, expanded the church building in the shape of a cross. Unfortunately in 1832, there was a communal riot in which the Church was pulled down and the violence had to be quelled by the troops. The credit goes to Rev. L. E. Kleiner  who established the present form of Gothic-styled church that was consecrated on  8 September  1882 by Bishop Jean-Yves-Marie Coadou, the vicar apostolic of Mysore.

Mary's feast day, St. Mary's Basilica, Bangalore

Over the years, the church of St. Mary's at Blackpally became popular enough to become  a parish. Through a special edit Pope Paul VI  elevated the church to  the status of minor basilica in 1973 -  the sixth church in India to be elevated to this exalted status. The church is impressive and its grandeur is showcased by  the stately arches of the church that are supported by eye-catching stained glass windows and multiple columns built in a rich Corinthian style.

St. Mary's Basilica, Bangalore  Amazing India Blog

This Basilica is well-known for  the festivities held during the St. Mary's Feast in the month of September each year. It celebrates the birth of Mother Mary and is the most important festival held in the basilicaThe  highlight is an annual 9 day Novena held between 30 August and 7 September, with Mass being offered in English, Kannada and Tamil languages, culminating in a grand chariot procession on the last day


01. Many  Churches in Bangalore and other areas came up only after the fall of Tipu Sultan in 1799 under the colonial rule.

02. The mass vestments worn by Fr. Jean-Antoine Dubois are still preserved in the church at Palahalli near Srirangapattana. 

03. The basilica  had a humble beginning and currently stands in the place where there was a small prayer room in the beginning.

04. The church is called Kaanike Mathe Devalaya (which in Kannada means the Church of Our Lady of the Presentation). 

05. The stained glass windows, for unknown reasons,  were removed during World War II and were later restored in 1947. This was done to avoid theft or damages to the stained glasses.

06. The consecration of the church (8 September 1882) by  Bishop Jean-Yves-Marie Coadou, the Vicar Apostolic of Mysore, took place in the presence of 35 priests and a gathering of 4,000 Catholics of Bangalore. 

07.  A total sum of  Rs. 29,659. 00 was spent on the construction of the new church,  including the pulpit and the statues.,_Bangalore