LEGACY OF THE FRENCH ARCHITECTURE IN THE CHURCHES
P.CHARLES CHRISTOPHER RAJ
M.A., M.Phil. M.I.M., M.L.I.S.C., M.C.A., B.Ed. P.G.D.T.A. P.hd., ASSISTANT PROFESSOR of HISTORY
DEPARTMENT OF HISTORICAL STUDIES
KASTHURBA COLLEGE FOR WOMEN
VILLIANUR, PUDUCHERRY 605 110
Pondicherry, the very word seems to be the correction of Pudicherry1 which means a new hamlet.
The Union Territory of Pondicherry constituted out of the four
French establishments of Pondicherry, Karaikal, Mahe and Yanam has the epoch of history of three hundred and fifty years 2. The French showed great interest in promoting the new faith i.e., Christianity apart from their economic trade and commercial motives. The Charter of 1664 had bestowed the Royal French Indian Company perpetual concession over Madagascar and the neighbouring islands on an important condition that it should promote the Catholic faith in these areas.
Thus the company started its
evangelical mission and Pondicherry saw the beginning of the mission by two Capuchin priests, in 1674, who came to Pondicherry along with Francois Martin to spread the Gospel among the strange population3.
Capuchins and inception of Chapel at Puducherry
The evangelical mission at Puducherry, saw its inception by St. Francis Xavier, which was made known by the two letters written by the saint himself in the year 1545. They reveal that the vicinity of the mission was in the place called Saveriacheri and they must have experienced the saints' evangelical work and there are evidences that the saint made some conversion among the population and since there were no priests the new religion lost its rapport in development4.
But the Capuchins, Franciscan Missionaries from 1674 accepted the offer made by Francois Martin and started their mission. The first chapel for the natives was built in 1
1686 and this was outside the Fort of Pondicherry and dedicated to St.Peter and later this chapel was made as St. Lazarus Church. The place for the construction of the Church was donated by Tanappa Mudaliar who was a convert and had a new name Lazaro de Motha5. Suddenly, due to political wave in France and the call of God, the Capuchins were sent back and brought the Jesuits.
Jesuits and their house of God
The Jesuits obtained permission from the Government and occupied a piece of land in the town to serve the mission. They were given letters of patent by Louis XIV in 1695 and was assigned to take care of the Indians6.
They built their first church in 1692
which was dedicated to Mother Mary and known as Immaculee de la Conception.7. Later it came to be known as St.Pauls Church but the inhabitants of Pondicherry called it as Samba Koil. By then the population of Pondicherry was around 30,000 in 1703 out of which the Christians of Pondicherry were 2000 8.
Records further give information that
around 600 persons were baptized between 1724 and 1725 though the conversion was very difficult and many were from low castes.
During this period, a convert to
Christianity by name Kanakaraya Mudali built a Church at Ozhukarai at a cost of 700 pagodas9.
The Jesuits were able to build their second Church during 1728-1736 and
started a small Boarding High School where they began to teach competently various subjects such as Mathematics, Science, Navigation and Philosophy.
It was around 1775
there was a talk about the Societe des Missions Etrangeres to be given charge of the mission replacing the Jesuits and the letters-patent of Louis XVI followed together with the Papal Bull. The suppression of the Society of Jesus in 1773 came as a terrible blow from Rome by the Pope Clement XV and the Mission which was rapidly growing was hindered by the capture of the British in 1761 and Pondicherry was in ruins. The Jesuits were persecuted in Europe, but the population of Christians in the mission estimated at 30,000 out of which...
References: 12. Marie Bernarde "Bernadette" Soubirous 7 January 1844 – 16 April 1879) was the firstborn
daughter of a miller from Lourdes, France, and is venerated as a Christian mystic and Saint in
founded. See also Sovenir released Dedication of Sacred Heart Basilica Pondicherry, 2011
Souvenir released Call to Asia, Missions Etrangeres de Paris (MEP) 350 years service,
18. Clement Iswar, Diocese of Pondicherry – Cuddalore (A.D 1545-2000), Puducherry,
21. St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, 1647-1690, was a French Roman Catholic nun and
mystic, who promoted devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in its modern form
bishops by a vote of 2,147 to 4 and promulgated by Pope Paul VI on December 4,
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