Bengaluru: Thousands of ‘kaavi’ (saffron) devotees flocked to St Mary’s Basilica (built in 1882) on August 29th even as preparations for the flag-hoisting were underway. The morning Mass presided by Archbishop Bernard Moras saw the participation of retired priests who served the Archdiocese for decades.
The prelate urged the Faithful to “pray not only for physical healing but also for mental and emotional healing and spiritual wholeness”. Quoting the gospel of the day he observed “St John the Baptist stood for Truth even in the face of impending death. He was beheaded but we remember him for his courage as he stood for Truth without compromise”.
While thanking the retired priests for their decades of service to the Archdiocese the Archbishop exhorted the faithful to seek the intercession of Our Blessed Mother that there may be peace in families and in the neighborhood. “As this year is dedicated to Families and Consecrated Life, let us pray for harmony in our homes and for peace and love between spouses and between parents and children. Pray also for Priests and religious as they carry out the mission entrusted to them”.
The Italian Jesuits of the Malabar Mission, were the founders of the Mysore Mission in the 17th Century. They were succeeded by the French Jesuits from Madura and Carnatic Missions in the 18th Century. A great plague had spread throughout ‘Blackpalli’ (the old name of the region). People sought the intercession of Mother Mary to relieve them from the clutches of disastrous death. The plague vanished from the vicinity.
Construction of St Mary’s Church began June 1875 by the then Parish Priest, Fr E L Kleiner who later became the Bishop of Mysore. The Church was solemnly consecrated on 8th September 1882. The Holy Father Pope Paul VI, elevated St Mary’s Church to the title of ‘ANNAI AROCKIAMARIE BASILICA’ (Our Lady of Good Health) on 26th September 1973.
The 160 feet high Basilica draws millions of people from various religious backgrounds from India and abroad during the 9-day novena services that culminates with a grand car-procession on the feast day September 8.
It is believed that a small Statue of Our Lady was left untouched by miscreants who destroyed burnt everything in the Church in 1832. Some popular accounts indicate that the miscreants were struck blind. The statue occupies a prominent place in the Basilica, till this day.