Mysuru: Sea of Devotees Throngs St Anthony’s Church of Dornahalli at Annual Feast

Mysuru: Every year on 13 June, devotees throng St Anthony’s Church in Dornahalli to celebrate the big Annual Feast of the patron Saint Anthony. They come to find lost treasures, to find employment , In sickness and sufferings, and in all their domestic needs: and above all, in their spiritual needs. this year too, The annual feast of St Antony church, Dornahalli Mysuru was celebrated with great devotion here on Saturday, June 13, 2015.In the evening there will be a colourful car procession of St Anthony.

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People from all angles gathered here in Doranahalli on 13 June every year to attend the Holy Mass and fulfill their vows. They came not only from Karnataka but also from Goa, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. That day Doranahalli and neighbouring villages was filled with these pilgrims and it was an atmosphere of grand fair. Giant wheel, Tora-tora, Magic shows, Hotels, Games, Toys, Bangles, Eatables were the added attractions. People offered candles, flowers, silver replicas of human organs as a gratitude for the favours bestowed on them by God through St. Anthony. They also went for tonsuring of hair, distributing food to the poor as grateful gestures to the graces received. Scenes of collecting the soil of the Shrine were also seen.

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The Solemn Feast mass was con-celebrated by Rev Dr Thomas A Vazhapilli, Bishop of Mysuru, along with other clergy namely-Fr Desmond Rebello, Fr Xavier, Fr Antony Swami, Fr Anil D’Souza and priests from the diocese of Mysuru and other nearby dioceses. In his homily, Bishop Thomas complimented the devotees for expressing their faith and requested the faithful to reconcile with God and others and to live a new life.” And by doing this one can become a saint and this should be our goal” he said.

Many helped the Rector of this Shrine, Fr Gilbert D’Silva in arranging the feast day-they were Fr Antony Swami, Fr Paul, Fr Anthony Roy, Fr B Prakash Barnis, Fr Sajay Kumar, Fr Manuel, Fr Shantaraj J, Fr Chinnappa, Bro Praveen Kumar, Bro Avinash, Bro Ashwin and local MLA Sara Mahesh. The Rector during the solemn mass thanked donors, well-wishers and everyone who made the celebration a memorable one.

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Eucharistic celebrations were held throughout the day starting from morning 5am till 8pm. in the evening, People came in procession singing the glory of God, praising the Saint and performed Holy Rosary prayer. Some even splashed crystal salt and puffed rice along with flower petals on the procession car.

About St Anthony’s Shrine-Dornahalli:

On the road from Yelvala of Mysore to K R Nagara at about 25 km away we find a village called Dodde Koppalu. Left side of this road falls to Hunsur taluk and the right side belongs to K R Nagara taluk. Take a right turn at this village and go ahead. After a hamlet and a grove you are able to see twin towers of a church at a distance. That is the famous Doranahalli (Dornahalli) Church located 3 km away.

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Doranahalli (Dornahalli), known locally as Christian Koppalu since it is dwelt by Christians only. As you walk along the road leading to the Church, on your left side before approaching the rivulet branched out of Cauvery, you can see a cluster of trees on an elevated land. This place was the erstwhile Doranahalli. After the turbulent strike of big famine and plague in the last century this village was abandoned and a new planned village was built at a new site by the efforts of Christian priests.

Doranahalli is famous for the miracle man St. Anthony. The story of Doranahalli goes back to some 200 years. That day it is said, a peasant of Doranahalli was ploughing his fields with a pair of bullocks. To a surprise, something struck the plough and the farmer stopped his work to look at it. It was a human faced wooden doll. The farmer took it in his hands and closely examined it. To his surprise it was not eaten away by the termites being in the mud for several years. The farmer thought it a wonder. He kept it aside thinking that it could be a toy for his kids and continued his ploughing task. The doll went with him to his home in the evening and suffered torture at the hands of his innocent kids.

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On that night the farmer was in his dreams and to a surprise the wooden doll appeared to him like a sage. The sage in Sanyasi robes told him not to dishonour the doll and promised him all good he wished. But next morning the farmer ignored it and carried on with his normal works. Later in the due course of time he lost his oxen, his intimates died and children fell ill. He was shaken now and began to recollect the events preceding these calamities. He then thought of the dream and realised that there he erred. He repented and built a small temple in his field at the spot where he found the doll and began worshipping it. Thus all his ailments were healed and he prospered.

Several years later he met a Christian priest at Mysore who was wearing the dress resembling the doll, narrated him about the doll. The priest accompanied him to his village and closely watched the small 13 inches wooden doll, which didn’t have hands. He, at once, recognised it as the statue of St Anthony with its revealing characteristics. He then beatified the temple, made it a church.

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It is recorded in the history that the Franciscan missionaries were on the missionary work around south India during the period of Vijayanagara Empire. But the Jesuits entered the Mysore province only after 1648 AD. These Jesuits were fond of Francis Xavier and Ignatius Loyola. Definitely they wouldn’t have planted Anthony cult. Later after the end of Tippu Sultan in 1799, somewhere around 1803 AD Abbe du Bois entered Mysore province under the banner of Paris Foreign Mission (MEP). So we can surely conclude that the statue found at Doranahalli is the one belonging to the Franciscan missionaries and its date can be pointed to 14th to 16th century AD.

St Anthony of Padua- a brief profile:

Hailed from Lisbon in Portugal Anthony was born on 15 August 1195 AD. His birth name was Ferdinande. His father Martin Thebeo was a top officer in that Town.

Ferdinande entered Lisbon’s St Vincensi’s Convent at his younger age and became a Monk. During his stay, there were frequent visits by his friends and relatives. To get rid of this, with the permission of his superiors, he joined Holy Cross Convent at a distant place called KOIMBRA and changed his name as Anthony. Later he was sent to Morocco on a pilgrimage and joined Franciscan Society there. He became an expert in Rhetoric. It is said that even the fishes listened to his charming oratory. One night a colleague found a glaring light emerging from Anthony’s room, peeped through the key hole and saw Anthony holding his prayer book opened and Infant Jesus sitting on it. As such, portraits and statues of St. Anthony holding Child Jesus on his prayer book are seen today. He died on 13 June 1231 AD at Padua. Later on 30 May 1232 AD Pope Gregory IX beatified him as a Saint.

St Anthony’s Church – Doranahalli:

‘Doranahalli’ is a village where the famous St.Anthony’s Shrine is located with all majesty. After the first church built by the farmer, another Church was built in the middle of 19th century but in the later days it became the presbytery. One other Church was built in 1920 by a generous man called Dharmaraja Chetty. Recently when it developed cracks it was demolished and rebuilt by retaining the original facade.

The structure behind this is the present church. Consecrated on 13 June 1969 this church in the shape of a Tau (English alphabet T) cross and with an ample space, can accommodate a thousand people. At the front nave, above the corridor there is a big Cross and adjoining this is a pair of tall towers having cross at their tips. The construction of this memorable edifice was commenced in 1964 by Mon Signor I.H.LOBO and completed by Rev. R FELIX THAVRO. This church also houses a small piece of St Anthony’s relic brought from Rome.

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It was in 1977 one Chandappa Shetty of Mangalore built a structure on the place where the farmer had built a temple earlier. The main church offers special prayer services on Tuesdays and annual feast is celebrated on June 13 of every year.

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