St. Philomena Church is a gorgeous Neo-Gothic church built in 1941 by a French architect named Daly. Its architecture is inspired by the Cologne Cathedral of Germany. This church was built to fulfil the needs of a growing European population at Mysore at that time. The fact that the church became such an important landmark of the city and is such a popular destination today reflects the secular nature of the King. An old description of the church is ‘A priceless French statue of a celebrated Greek saint in a German cathedral located in the heart of India’.
An interesting part about the church’s architecture is that its length and height is identical at 175 feet. The 2 spires of the church are made to resemble St. Patrick’s church, New York and are visible from miles away. They give a majestic contribution to the city’s skyline. The 12 feet high crosses on the spires make this church one of the tallest in Asia. There are 3 ornamental doors at the front and several doors on the sides that lead to the prayer hall. All pillars are carved with floral patterns and ceilings depict Biblical events like Birth of Christ, The Last Supper, The Crucifixion, the Resurrection and Ascension of Christ in beautiful stained glass. Beneath the altar, there is an underground chapel known as catacomb that houses a priceless statue of St. Philomena in a reclining position. Names of all the donors who helped building this church are engraved on stone tablets on walls of the chapel.
St. Philomena was born to Greek parents in the 3rd Century after they prayed long to God to bless them with a child. Even in childhood, Philomena showed signs of piety. Emperor Diocletion wanted to marry her but she refused, vowing to hand over herself to God. She was tortured and beheaded by the King as a punishment. People’s devotion to her spread and she was given the title of sainthood. The relic of St. Philomena was bought by the then secretary of Maharaja of Mysore to be kept in the church.
Today, the church is not just a famous tourist destination; it is also a renowned religious place.
I would rate this historic monument as a must visit.
Thank you, M, for the pictures.
A few notes:
– Church timings: 5:00 m to 6:00 pm
– Daily holy mass is held in Kannada, Tamil and English every day in morning and evening. (Updated timings should be available at the church entrance). Special masses are held on Sundays and Holidays.
– An Annual fest is held on 11th August every year.
– The church is all lighted up during Christmas. Special songs and sermons are held on and around Christmas.
– Photography is prohibited inside the church.
– There is no signboard to the effect but many people take their shoes off before entering the church. I don’t think it is compulsory to do so.
– A dress code is not specified but the church expects you to dress decently while in the campus. Inappropriate behavior like casual loitering around, sitting on steps and PDA are condemned.
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