Bengaluru: More than 10,000 devotees on August 29 attended the first day of the nine-day preparations to celebrate the birthday of Mother Mary at a Marian shrine in Bengaluru, southern India.
Addressing the gathering at St. Mary’s Basalica in Shivajinagar, Archbishop Bernard Moras of Bangalore called for translating devotion into acts of mercy.
The prelate, who celebrated his 75th birthday on August 10, hoisted the Marian Flag before leading a solemn Mass to launch the novena to the Blessed Mother.
“Our worship of God and devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary should translate into attitude and acts of Mercy. Only by understanding and cherishing the experience of God’s bountiful mercies upon us can we bear witness to His mercy and compassion in every sphere of our life and activity,” he told the devotees who had thronged to the 131-year-old church.
Since the church can hardly hold 1,000 people, the public transport department has suspended operations to a major bus stand close to the church. The police department has banned vehicular movement within a 2-km radius to provide space for devotees.
Devotees vie for space on the narrow lanes and by-lanes around the basilica, which has installed giant-size LCDs at various places to help them witness the services.
St. Mary’s Basilica, a significant landmark in the state of Karnataka, stands 160 feet tall within a few meters distance of an equally old mosque and temple in Shivajinagar, a bustling market area.
Regarded as a popular place of piety and devotion and inter-religious harmonious living, Shivajinagar also is game for hundreds of small and big-time businessmen, especially during the 9-day novena period. Festal decoration and huge billboards with Feast Day greetings and messages from politicians and ‘social workers’ flanked the roads leading to the basilica.
K J George Banglaluru’s Urban Development (and former Home Minister of Karnataka), chief guest at the ceremony, was greeted by the archbishop with the traditional Indian Shawl and a bouquet.
After giving the final Benediction (with monstrance) Archbishop Moras then waved hands to the jubilant gathering as they headed to pray at the Marian shrine at the basilica. Many participated in a thanksgiving Mass later in the evening.
The majestic Gothic-style St. Mary’s Basilica popularly known as ‘Kanikkai Madha Kovil’ traces its origin to a thatched hut in the 17th century church, credited to Rev. L. E. Kleiner. It was consecrated on September 8, 1882, by Bishop Jean-Yves-Marie Coadou, the then vicar apostolic of Mysore.
From a parish it was elevated to the status of minor basilica in 1973 by Pope Paul VI.