Renovation bells ring for St Philomena’s Church

St Philomena’s Church: In what could be termed as a gift for Easter, the state government has taken up the long-pending renovation works of the iconic St Philomena’s Church. The restoration works will begin on March 28, a day after Easter Sunday and the project is set to be completed within 18 months.  

The total worth of the project is Rs 2.7 crore and Rs 50 lakh has already been released and the works have been initiated by the Department of Archaeology, Museums and Heritage. Mumbai-based Savani Construction Company Pvt Ltd. has been entrusted with the responsibility of renovation. The same company is also undertaking the renovation and restoration of Lansdowne Building and the Devaraja Market.

On Friday, the spot inspection of the church was conducted by MCC Commissioner Dr C G Betsurmath who is also the Commissioner for Department of Archaeology, Museums and Heritage, Ram Savani of Savani Construction Company Pvt Ltd, Bishop of Mysuru Thomas Antony Vazhapilly and Church Parish Priest Father K A William.

The 80-year-old church is not only significant to one community, but is close to the hearts of Mysureans. It is a must-visit place in the heritage city.

The imposing St Philomena’s Church with architectural grandeur was built in neo Gothic style in 1936 inspired by Cologne Cathedral, Germany. Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar laid the foundation stone of the church on October 28, 1933.

The twin spires of the church are 175 feet (53 m) in height and they resemble the spires of the Cologne Cathedral and also the spires of the St. Patrick’s Church in New York.

The main hall (nave) can seat up to 800 people and contains stained glass windows depicting scenes from the birth of Christ, the Last Supper, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection and the Ascension of Christ. It is considered to be Asia’s second largest church.

Briefing reporters about the project, Ram Savani said that the renovation works will be taken up at 9 places. Prominent among the works are muddy plastering removal outside and inside the church, replacement of leaky rain water pipes, limestone plastering to cover and strengthen the cracks and re-plastering at places.

There are 84 domes insider where stucco works will be undertaken and the doors and windows will sport a new look after repainting. Damaged windows and doors including the frames would be replaced with new ones. Plastic emulsion will be applied on walls inside the church and silicon glazed paint work will be undertaken for the exteriors, he explained.

Steel scaffolding works will strengthen the 175 feet twin spires of the church and cracks will be covered, he added.

“Our company has a wide experience in repairing and restoring heritage monuments. We have undertaken major restoration works of churches including Mumbai’s Gloria Church. We are aware of the sensitivities and we believe in providing a quality work,” he said.

Dr C G Betsurmath said that the church, a must visit for lakhs of tourists visiting Mysuru, needed major repairs and restoration to preserve its splendour and glory.

Bishop of Mysuru Dr Thomas A Vazhapilly thanked the government for the initiative. “We appeal to the government to look in to other repair works such as replacing the stain glasses, repairing the antique pipe organ inside the church that would itself cost around Rs 85 lakh as the parts to repair it must be bought from Belgium,” he said. 

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