Saturday, 10 January 2015

Immaculate Conception Cathedral,Pondicherry, S.India- financed by French king Louis XIV,but razed by the British

Immaculate Conception Cathedral
 This 300 year old Immaculate Conception Cathedral - the cathedral mother church for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Pondicherry and Cuddalore is located in the Union territory of Puducherry, South India.

The Jesuit Fathers came to the French colony of Pondicherry as missionaries in 1689 to spread the Gospel of Christ. On a huge plot bought by them, with  financial help from Louis XIV, king of France, they erected a church in 1692 to cater to the local Christian population. This was unfortunately   demolished by the Dutch in the following year. A second church (1699) could not last long, 

Interior(built in 1791) Immaculate Conception Cathedral
The third church, that was built from 1728 to 1736,  was pulled down by the British in 1761 during the 'Seven Years' War. At that time  the 13 colonies in America were up against the British Crown who forced them to import tea only from England by an act(1721) in the British Parliament.The colonists were whole heartedly supported by the French during their protests. Back in India during the Mysore wars against the British, the French colony backed Tipu Sultan of Srirangapatna. Angered by the French  expansionism and influence, the British showed their  frustration on  Immaculate Conception Cathedral during their raids in Pondicherry.
The present cathedral was built on the foundations of the 3rd Church. On 20 June 1791 the main work aisle,etc was finished and the Church was consecrated by Bishop Champenois. Choir loft and bell tower were added in 1900s. A redesigned esplanade was added in front in the recent past to allow people to take part in liturgical ceremonies and special functions held outside.
Also known as "Samba Kovil" in Tamil, which is a local phonetic corrupt form of 'Saint Paul’s Kovil" (where "Kovil" means church), this  old church   was visited by Mother Teresa during her visit to Puducherry some time back.