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basilicaThe diocese of Coimbatore, in the state of Tamil Nadu, India, is highly revered by its first bishop, Melchior de Marion Brésillac, who found the congregation “the Society of African Missions”. He was consecrated bishop of Coimbatore by Bishop Bonnard in 1846 and resided at Karumathampatty.

(Karumathampatty was then the great Christian center of the region, it is here that in 1857, after the mandate of an administrator Fr.Godell, was consecrated as bishop of Coimbatore, taking the succession of Bishop.Brésillac who had left India in 1953).

In 1848, Bishop Brésillac bought a house and land to establish the bishop’s house at Coimbatore; the cathedral was founded in 1850 and the city became the center of the diocese. Bishop Brésillac liked this region and its inhabitants.

Since 1640, Karumathampatty is a very important place of Catholicism, dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary. The place was once ruled by King Karumathan. The tradition says that Saint John de Britto came here and celebrated Mass there. In 1648, the army of the king of Mysore destroyed the church. It was rebuilt, but again demolished by the army of Tipu Sultan, (Tipu Sultan, or Tipû Sâhib, (1750-1799) was sultan of Mysore from 1782 and one of the main opponents of the installation of power British in India, which earned him the nickname "Tiger of Mysore.") The people of Karumathampatty rebuilt it again.

On July 22, 2019, Pope Francis announced that the pilgrimage church of Karumathampatty would become a basilica, all the dioceses of Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry hailed this decision as a great blessing, not only for the Diocese of Coimbatore, but also for the pilgrims of every religion who go there. On October 6, 2019, as Karumathampatty celebrated the 379th anniversary of the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, Archbishop George Antonysamy, Archbishop of Madras-Mylapore, announced it in the Mass about the proclamation of the Pope.

Bishop Thomas Aquinas, bishop of Coimbatore, honored Father Antonio Porcellato by offering him a silk shawl.basilica1

All day long there have been Masses in Tamil, English and Malayalam. (Tamil is the official language of the state of Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry, and Malayalam is that of the state of Kerala.)

Karumathampatty and Coimbatore have always been of great importance to the African Missions: since the founding of the SMA in India, all the Superiors General, but also many of our Fathers and our lay friends, have made the journey, thus walking on the footsteps of our founder. Father Marcel Schneider, who is passionate about the country and for Bishop Brésillac, organized several pilgrimages from France.

Every year we, the SMA, preside over one of the masses of the pilgrimage. This year, it is to me that this privilege has been granted. I was accompanied by some of our confreres of the African Missions: Fathers Maria Valan, Rayappa Gumala, Pasala Vijay Bhaskar, Darmu Henri Daniel, Adam Fernandez, and by our Superior General, Father Antonio Porcellato. We have been very impressed by Marian faith and devotion, which brings people of different cultures, castes and religions together. Our Lady of Rosary reminds every pilgrim that we are all brothers and God is our father.

Francis Kalan SMA