Situated 2.2 kilometres from our house is the most beautiful Church of Twin Cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad, the St. Mary’s Basilica, the only Basilica in the States of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh and one of the 21 Basilicas in India. The Church / Cathedral held its Quarto Sept Centennial Celebrations (175th Anniversary Celebrations) yesterday, Sunday, 1st May 2016. Apostolic Nuncio to India and Nepal, Rev. Salvatore Pennacchio, formally dedicated the St. Mary’s Church, the Basilica of Our Lady of the Assumption yesterday in the presence of Rev. Thumma Bala, Archbishop of Hyderabad and all the 12 Bishops from Telangana and Andhra Pradesh amidst a large gathering of worshippers. Rev. Salvatore Pennacchio proclaimed that anyone who visits St. Mary’s Basilica would get special grace and spoke about the importance of loving one another.
St. Mary’s Basilica is an imposing landmark and a magnificent sight on Sarojini Devi Road. And the adjoining School, St. Ann’s High School, is the most popular School for girls in the City. Together these two establishments extend between two main roads of Secunderabad, Sarojini Devi Road and Sardar Patel Road. It was in the year 1839 that Fr. Daniel Murphy (of Ireland, 15 June 1815-29 December 1915) at first searched for a place to build a Church in Hyderabad, but then decided to build it in Secunderabad where the British Army was in control. Fr. Murphy started building St. Mary’s Cathedral in 1840 on what was then called Alexander Road and the construction was completed in 1850. The Church is built in a Gothic style with pointed buttresses and curved arches. The roof is wooden, its windows are decorated with stained glass and there are four Church bells which are from Italy. Its wonderful architecture attracts a lot of locals as well as foreigners. In 1851, Pope Gregory XVI, raised Fr. Daniel Murphy to the office of Bishop. Bishop Murphy established few more Churches and Schools in Hyderabad. His missionary works in Hyderabad shall be remembered forever. Pope Blessed Pius IX transferred him from India to Tasmania in 1865, appointing him Bishop of Hobart.
P.S. What makes a Church a Basilica?
The word Basilica is derived from a Greek term meaning “Royal House.” In the Catholic world, a Basilica is a Church building that has been accorded special privileges by the Pope. There are two kinds of Basilicas. The world’s four major, or Papal, Basilicas are St. John Lateran, St. Peter, St. Paul Outside the Walls, and St. Mary Major, all in Rome.
Minor, or lesser, Basilicas are significant Churches in Rome and elsewhere in the World that meet certain criteria and are given special ecclesiastical privileges. Minor Basilicas are traditionally named because of their antiquity, dignity, historical value, architectural and artistic worth, and/or significance as centers of worship. A Basilica must “stand out as a center of active and pastoral liturgy,” according to the 1989 Vatican document Domus ecclesiae.
More than 1,580 Churches worldwide have been honored as Basilicas. As of last year, 325 basilicas had been designated in the Americas and 21 in India.