Immaculate Conception Cathedral, Pondicherry
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Immaculate Conception Cathedral (French: Cathédrale de l'Immaculée-Conception de Pondichéry) is the cathedral mother church for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Pondicherry and Cuddalore. It is located in the Union territory of Puducherry. It is also known as "Samba Kovil" (Tamil: சம்பா கோயில்), which is a phonetic corruption of "Saint Paul’s Kovil" where "Kovil" means church.
|Immaculate Conception Cathedral, Pondicherry|
Front view of the cathedral with Sacred Heart of Jesus statue visible.
|Former name(s)||St. Paul's Church|
|Authorising papal bull||1692|
|Status||Cathedral and Parish church|
|Dedication||Immaculate Conception of Blessed Virgin Mary|
|Past bishop(s)||Msgr.Michael Augustine|
|Demolished||Three time in the years:|
|Archdiocese||Archdiocese of Pondicherry and Cuddalore|
|Archbishop||Msgr. Antony Anandarayar|
|Priest(s)||Rev. Fr. A. Arulanandam|
The Jesuit Fathers came to the French colony of Pondicherry as missionaries in 1689. There they bought a very large garden to the west of the French Fort. In the 1692 they, with the financial help of Louis XIV, king of France, erected a church which was demolished by the Dutch in the following year. A second Church was quickly built in 1699 but could not last long.
From 1728 to 1736 a large church was built on the site of the present Cathedral. This third church was razed to the ground by the British in 1761 during the Seven Years' War.
Erecting in 1765 provisionally (fourth in serial) a functional kind of irregular shaped shed where the Mission Press (official press depot of the archdiocese) is now, since the year 1770 the Fathers were earnest in building the present cathedral on the foundations of the 3rd Church. On 20 June 1791 the main work was finished and the Church was consecrated by Bishop Champenois. The Bell tower was built later. The choir loft was added in 1905. The Sanctuary was remodeled in the year 1970. The esplanade in front of the Cathedral was remodeled in 1987, to allow people to take part in liturgical ceremonies and special functions held outside.
The Fest of this Church i.e., Immaculate Conception of Blessed Virgin Mary falls on 8 December. Now the church which stands for around 300 years is also the place where the bishop house is also situated. Mass services in Tamil and English are conducted.
Photo taken in 1860 possibly by French photographer Charles Moyne.
Central altar of the church with the bishops cathedra visible on the right hand side covered with a green cloth