St. Philomena’s Church in Mysore is considered to be the second largest church in Asia. This Roman Catholic Church was built to honor the memory of Saint Philomena, a Latin Catholic Saint and martyr of the Roman Catholic Church. Located in the northern part of the city, St. Philomena’s Church is the most famous address on the ever-busy Ashoka Road of Mysore. The church is renowned for its spectacular architecture in the Neo Gothic style.
The church was established by the erstwhile king of Mysore, Sri Krishnarajendra Wodeyar Bahadur IV.
History of St. Philomena’s Church
Long before the foundation for St. Philomena’s Church was laid in 1933, another church was built in the same location in 1843 by the then King of Mysore Mummadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar. An inscription found at the site in 1933 stated this fact.
This old church was built to fulfill the requirement of the European population who resided in Mysore at that time. But with the expansion of the European population in the city the need for a larger church was felt after some years.
In 1926 the Diwan and Chief Justice of the erstwhile Mysore kingdom, TRV Thamboo Chetty obtained a relic of saint Philomena from Peter Pisani, Apostolic Delegate of the East Indies. When the relic was handed over to Father Cochet, he requested the then king of Mysore, Sri Krishnarajendra Wadeyar Bahadur IV, to build a church in honor of St. Philomena. The king readily agreed to the suggestion. So, on 28th October, 1933 the foundation for the new church was laid by the king himself at the same place where the old church existed.
The construction of the church took eight long years to complete and the church started functioning from 1941. The relic of St. Philomena is preserved till date in the catacomb located beneath the main altar of the church.
Architecture of St. Philomena’s Church
St. Philomena’s Church was designed by a French architect called Daly. The design is inspired by the beautiful Cologne Cathedral of Germany. The Neo Gothic or Victorian Gothic style of the architecture was the popular style followed in Europe during that period of time.
The architecture of St. Philomena’s Church is a majestic work of art. The floor plan of the church reminds one of a cross. The congregation hall or the nave is built to resemble the long end of the cross.
The transepts stand as the two arms of the cross. The portion containing the choir resembles the crossing or intersection.
The altar is placed at the smaller and upper portion of the cross. The altar of the church is an elaborately crafted marble structure that contains the beautiful statue of St. Philomena. This statue was specially brought from France for the purpose.
Beneath the altar lies the underground catacomb that contains the relic of St. Philomena and her representation in a reclining position. The entrance to the underground catacomb exists at the end of the congregation hall and near the choir. The church contains three front doors and several side doors that lead to the prayer hall. The pillars exhibit beautiful floral patterns.
The huge congregation hall has a sitting capacity for 800 people. The glass windows above the sanctum are beautified by stained glass portraying biblical events like the Birth of Christ, the Last Supper, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection and the Ascension of Christ.
A very unique feature of the architecture of St. Philomena’s Church is that this ornately crafted building has identical length and height of 175 feet each. There are two spires that adorn the church. The spires are designed to resemble those of the St. Patrick’s Church in New York. The top of each spire is adorned with a 12 feet long cross.
St. Philomena’s Church: A stunning landmark of Mysore
St. Philomena’s Church is one of the most distinctive landmarks of Mysore. The lofty spires of the church protruding the skyline of the historical city can be seen from miles away. The illuminated church standing against the evening sky presents an enchanting sight. The church is a standing example of the secular outlook of the erstwhile Mysore rulers. Today it stands as a major tourist attraction of Mysore, apart from being a celebrated religious place.
The beauty and significance of the St. Philomena’s Cathedral can be aptly expressed through a popular quote about the church: ‘A priceless French statue of a celebrated Greek saint in a German cathedral located in the heart of India’.
St. Philomena’s Church: Visitor’s Information
St. Philomena’s Cathedral holds Holy Mass every day in the morning and the evening. Special masses are performed on Sundays and other festive days. Every year the church organizes an annual feast on the 11th of August. The church also runs an orphanage that is situated inside its premises.
- Photography is strictly prohibited inside the church hall.
- The cathedral remains open from 5:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. every day and is open for all to visit.
- Phone: +91 821 2563148
How to Reach St. Philomena’s Church
Mysore has a small domestic airport that is connected only to Bangalore. The railway station in Mysore is linked to Bangalore and several other cities in south India. There are numerous buses that leave from Bangalore for Mysore at a frequency of 5 minutes every day. Mysore can also be accessed through hired cars and taxis from Bangalore.
St. Philomena’s Church is located on Mysore’s Ashoka Road. The church can be easily reached from any part of Mysore by hiring a local taxi or auto rickshaw. The church stands at a distance of about 1.5 km from the famous Mysore Palace and is just a short distance from the Masjid-e-Azam mosque.