History of St. Mary's Basilica
In 1799, when the British seized Srirangapattana from Tipu Sultan, the French MEP priest, Fr. Abbe du Bois started restoring the Catholic religion. He went to many places in Karnataka visiting the Catholics there and ministering to their spiritual needs. He built a Chapel with a thatched roof in 1803 at Bili Akki Palli or Blackpally and offered mass there. It was called Kaanike Mathe Devalaya or Church of Our Lady of the Presentation. That small prayer house is the location where the basilica currently stands. When Bangalore Cantonment was established, a mass was regularly held by Father Abbe du Bois which was attended by both European and Indian Catholics. He in 1813 with the help of the British modified and enhanced the chapel and renamed it the Church of the Purification of Our Lady, Blackpalli. Rev. L. E. Kleiner constructed the present basilica in Gothic form. It was consecrated on September 8, 1882 by Bishop Jean-Yves-Marie Coadou, the Vicar Apostolic of Mysore. Over time, the church had become a parish. The church was elevated to the status of a minor basilica in 1973. It was done through an edict that was issued by Pope Paul VI. It was the sixth church in India to be elevated to this status. The area is now known as Shivajinagar.
Architecture of St. Mary's Basilica
The basilica has been built in the Gothic style. It has arches, ornamental motifs and stained glass windows. Multiple columns and the tall spires are also the features of the basilica.
St. Mary's Feast
St. Mary's Feast celebrates the birth of Mother Mary. It is the most important festival celebrated in the basilica. It is held in the month of September and the celebration goes on for 10 days culminating in a grand chariot procession on the last day. The festivities begin with the hoisting of a traditional flag. On the first nine days a Novena is held starting from August 29 to September 7. September 8, the birth day of Mother Mary is celebrated as a feast. Holy Mass is offered in different languages. Mass marriages are also conducted for the poor and needy. A thanksgiving mass is organised for couples who have completed 50 years of marriage. A decorated chariot with the image of Mother Mary is drawn by devotees along streets of Bangalore.