My trip to St Philomena’s Church, the cathedral of the district under the pastoral care of the bishop of Mysore – instantly reminded me of my Germany trip. Soon, I found out that this Neo-Gothic church, indeed, takes inspiration after the Cologne Cathedral. This church of St. Joseph and St. Philomena is one of Asia’s tallest churches, originally built in 1936. Although its history dates back to the 4th-century, when Philomena, a young Greek princess was martyred as the Latin Catholic Saint. Her remains were found in the underground Roman cemetery of Saint Priscilla in the early 18th-century. Co-occurring with these remnants were an assortment of tiles displaying an inscription bearing the words “LUMENA PAXTE CUM FI.”
No words were known to have meaning in that order. Consequently, the letters were reset to read “PAX TECUM FILUMENA,” meaning peace with you Filumena in Latin. Additionally, an urn, containing dry blood along with, symbols of her devotion was found in the tomb. It’s from these findings, it was decided that Filumena (Philomena) was buried in the tomb and the vessel carrying blood was her relic, a bonafide proof of a martyr’s death. In 1926, the Huzur Secretary of Mysore’s Maharaja procured the Saint’s relic from East Indies’ Apostolic Delegate, Peter Pisani. It was relinquished to Father Cochet who recommended building a church in praise of Saint Philomena.
In 1933, the double foundation (divine compassion and gratitude of men) of the new church was laid by Maharaja of Mysore. Following which, Saint Philomena’s relic was conserved in a catacomb beneath the main altar. Today, this cathedral is Asia’s second-largest church. On the inside, it’s interesting to watch some of the female statues costumed in Sarees. Otherwise, this church is built in the Neo-Gothic style, just like the Cologne Cathedral. Interestingly, the cathedral’s floor plan resembles a cross, where the altar and the choir meet at a crossing. The longspun is a gathering hall called the nave, wherein, the transepts are the two arms of the cross.
The 175-feet tall twin spires, match the spires of the New York’s St. Patrick’s Church and the Cologne Cathedral in Germany. The imposing main hall is surrounded by stained glass windows portraying scenes from Christ’s birth to Last Supper to crucifixion, rebirth, and the ascent. You simply can’t miss this Cathedral when in Mysore.