St Philomena Church, a Wodeyar contribution

The Saint Philomena Church is a testimony to the secular outlook of the Maharajas of Mysore. The church in its present form has replaced an earlier existing small structure, built as long back as 1843 by the then Maharaja Mummadi Krishna Raja Wodeyar. This was the consequence of shifting the capital city from Srirangapatna to the present Mysore with the restoration of Mysore kingdom to Wodeyars of Mysore. This had resulted in settlement of British officers along with their soldiers in good numbers. A small section of this population needed a place of prayer. Realising this, the then Maharaja built a small church on a tiny plot on Bangalore-Mysore Road. Later, ambitious plans for a bigger church were drawn and on October 28, 1933,  then Maharaja Krishnaraja Wodeyar-IV laid the foundation for a church to be built replacing the then existing church built by his grandfather.

The church was designed by a Frenchman named Daly and is built in neo-Gothic style,  being inspired by the style of Cologne cathedral in Germany. The floor plan of the cathedral is in the form of a cross. The long part of the cross is the Nave, which is the congregation hall.  The transepts of this cruciform church form the two arms of the cross. The part containing the altar and choir is the “crossing”. An exquisite marble altar with the statue of Saint Philomena on it, seldom fails to attract the attention of the visitor. Equally so in respect of an idol of Christ lying in his sacred wounds.

Lovely French stained glass windows with paintings depicting the birth of Christ, the last supper, crucifixion, Resurrection and Ascension, above the sanctum add elegance to the internal ambiance of the church. Below the main altar lies a beautiful catacomb in which the relic of the saint Philomena is preserved. The presence of a statue of St. Philomena, acquired from France, elevates the reverential moods of a visitor to the higher heights of devotion.

 The flamboyant pointed arches, one of the characteristic features of the Gothic style of architecture, are prominently displayed to form an attractive frontal. A pair of attenuated towers piercing in to the sky measuring about 175 feet high in the frontal of the Church, the most attractive feature, resembles that of a cathedral in Cologne in Germany and   Saint Patrick's church in New York. The construction of the church was completed under the supervision of Bishop Rene Fugas. 
This grand edifice, a feat to the eyes, is “a must-see” for every tourist who visits this historic city. The annual feast is held on 11th day of August every year.

M S Dwarakinath