Friday, 21 November 2014

St. Philomena's church (1843), Mysore and secular Indian Maharajah.

Imposing Philomena church,
interior portion-Philomena church,Mysore. credit:Bangalore
For generations the maharajahs of India  practiced secularism and never failed to show their catholicity and respect for other faiths.The maharajahs of Mysore were exceptional in this regard. In the later part of 1700s Maharajah Serfoji of Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu helped Fr. Friedrich Schwartz, an Angelo-Saxon preacher build a church there. Later Fr. Schwartz, built churches and educational institutions in that region.
Maharajah Nalvadi Kishnaswami Wodeyar,Mysore. credit: www.vanamaarts,org
St. Philomena's church, an important land mark and a tourist destination in the palace city of Mysore, was built in 1936 by the Maharajah of Mysore. It was built under the supervision of Bishop Rene Feuga. This church has a blending of local as well as European architecture. The unusual feature of this church is  some of the female statues are dressed in saris, thus giving importance to traditional dress worn by the natives. The simple but crisp architectural design, the deep stone recesses that blend with the design, the grandeur of its facade, sky - caressing twin spires, fine vaulted  interior and the overall imposing building - all these will leave the visitors breathless and dumbfounded.
St. Philomena's church construction work began on in October, 1933 using a Neo-Gothic style and its architecture was on the model of the Cologne Cathedral in Germany. The church was designed by Daly, a French man. Philomena, a Latin Catholic saint as well as a martyr of the Roman Catholic Church was a young Greek princess who was martyred in the 4th century. The remains were discovered on May 24, 1802 in the Catacombs of Saint Priscilla at the Via Salaria in Rome. There were several fragmented inscriptions containing the words LUMENA PAXTE CUMFI. From these discoveries, it was concluded that a Christian named Philomena
was buried in the tomb.

Philomena church,

Philomena church,;
A church was built at the same location in 1843 by the then Maharajah Mummadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar. In 1926, Thamboo Chetty, who was a secretary to the Maharajah of Mysore, Nalvadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar obtained a relic of the saint from Peter Pisani, Apostolic Delegate of the East Indies. The relic was handed over to Father Cochet who requested the Maharajah to assist him in constructing a church in honor of St. Philomena. The Maharajah of Mysore immediately obliged and laid the foundation stone on October 28, 1933. The relic of Saint Philomena is preserved in a cavern below the main altar. This church is very much revered not only by Christians but also by the Hindus.  

The floor plan resembles a cross. The long part of the cross is congregation hall known as the nave. Transepts are the two arms of the cross. The crossing is the part containing the altar and the choir. The cathedral has a cellar that houses a statue of St. Philomena. The twin spires of the church resemble the spires of the Cologne Cathedral and St. Patrick`s Church in New York. The main hall contains stained glass windows, depicting scenes from the birth of Christ, the Last Supper, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection and the Ascension of Christ.
The Church attracts  lots of people not only from Karnataka but also from other parts of India.

Philomena church, truly an abode of God and of faith  where man be at peace with himself.

A brief description of St. Philomena's church is provided by Usha Bande."A hymn in stone, Speaks of a secular vision" . Online webpage of The Tribune, dated 2002-02-03. The Tribune Trust, 2006. Retrieved 2007-05-22.