Monday, October 7, 2013

Catholic Bishop sees a shrine in a vision and hears an “interior voice” instructing him to “build a shrine” dedicated to the Divine Mercy of Jesus

Madhya Pradesh, INDIA: St. Theresa's Cathedral Inaugurated. Tallest Divine Mercy Statue in India

Madhya Pradesh, October 02, 2013: On Sept. 30, Cardinal George Alencherry unveiled and blessed a shrine featuring a statue of the Divine Mercy of Jesus, in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.

“The statue is 43-feet tall and it proclaims that the Lord is ever merciful to all those who seek him,” Bishop Anthony Chirayath of the Syro-Malabarese Diocese of Sagar told CNA Sept. 28.

Some 20 bishops attended the blessing, as well as around 100 priests and religious. When he spoke to CNA, Bishop Chirayath said that “a presence of about 3,000 Catholic devotees of the Divine Mercy is expected, including pilgrims from the U.S., Canada, France, Germany and Italy,” adding that “a great participation of staunch devotees, even of other faiths, is to be witnessed.”

Bishop Chirayat receives a gift of Vision and Interior Voice 
Bishop Chirayat explained that the motivation behind erecting this monumental shrine was through his personal experience some years ago.

While on a visit to the Divine Mercy shrine in San Francisco on Oct. 5, 2007, Bishop Chirayath said he saw a shrine in a vision and heard an “interior voice” instructing him to “build a shrine” in Sagar dedicated to the Divine Mercy of Jesus.

“I was neither aware of, nor a devotee to, the Divine Mercy.”

The image of Divine Mercy, based on visions experienced by 20th century Polish nun St. Faustina Kowalska, depicts Jesus touching his heart, from which red and white rays flow, offering the mercy of God to sinners.

The bishop said that locally, people refer to the Divine Mercy of Jesus as “Dayasagar,” or “Ocean of Mercy,” and that local non-Catholics call him “Prabhu,” or “Lord.”

Divine Mercy Shrine in Sagar, Madhya Pradesh
The shrine is located in Khajuria, near Sagar. The statue weighs 1.5 tons and is placed at a height of 45 feet on a 100-foot concrete structure to protect it from violent storms and earthquakes. It is 16 feet wide, three feet depth, and three inches thick. The rays from the heart of Jesus are 21 feet long.

Tallest Statue

“The original idea was to install a statue of only eight feet,” Bishop Chirayath explained, “but later the vicar general and the curia suggested that we install a statue of 40 feet, but now increased to 43 feet.”

The statue was commissioned to a Catholic sculptor from Kerala, a state on the southern tip of India, named Poly.

The work was completed with contributions from devotees across India, and without making any appeals or undertaking fund-raising drives, the bishop said.

“People heard of this construction and voluntary contacted us, contributing small amounts.”

In addition, Fr. Anthony Gramlich, rector of the U.S. national shrine of the Divine Mercy, gave a painting of the devotion to the Syro-Malabar Diocese of Sagar. It was installed in the shrine at Khajuria in 2007, and the diocese was then consecrated to the Divine Mercy.

Numerous Miracles 
Since then, numerous miracles have been reported and recorded, particularly among non-Catholics. The shrine has become very popular, and Bishop Chirayath himself has reported being cured there of a malign tumor. He noted that the shrine is contributing to inter-religious dialogue in the area.

The shrine, which already has a perpetual adoration chapel as well as a relic of St. Faustina, will be expanded in the future.

On Oct. 1, Cardinal Alencherry also consecrated St. Theresa Cathedral for the Sagar diocese.

- cna

St. Theresa’s Cathedral (formerly known as St. Raphael’s Church) in Sagar (Saugor) Cantonment is the first and the oldest Catholic Christian settlement in the present Sagar Division. The Catholic presence dates back to late 1850s, when European Christians as well as Indian Christians served in the British Regiment of Infantry and Cavalry units of Saugor. Though the first recorded baptism in Sagar (Saugor) was on January 1, 1863, records give witness to the Catholic Christian presence in Sagar (Saugor) Cantonment by the very fact that the first burial of Catholic soldier took place on June 3, 1859 in the Christian cemetery at Sagar Cantonment.

Tallest Statue

The foundation stone of the first Catholic Church known as St. Raphael’s Church was laid by Rev. Fr. Raffaele Mecchi da Livorno OFM. Cap. on December 13, 1874. The church was consecrated by Rt. Rev. Dr. Francesco Pesci OFM. Cap., the first Bishop of Allahabad, on October 24, 1890. When the new Exarchate of Sagar was created on July 29, 1968, it became the official church of the Exarchate. It was formally raised to the status of Cathedral of Sagar Diocese on February 26, 1977, when the Exarchate was raised to the status of a Diocese. The church was closed for reconstruction on August 15, 2010. The cathedral was renamed after the Diocesan Patroness, St. Theresa of Child Jesus on October 1, 2010 and on the very same day, the foundation stone for the present church was laid by His Excellency Mar Anthony Chirayath, Bishop of Sagar. The present rebuilt Church was consecrated by His Beatitude Mar George Cardinal Alencherry, Major Archbishop of Syro-Malabar Catholic Church on October 1, 2013 and was reopened again for worship. The vibrant Catholic congregation consists of local Catholics and military personnel. St. Theresa’s Cathedral stands as a living witness to Jesus Christ through actions of peace, prayer, love and mercy. This historical Church is open to all.

Salient Features

St. Theresa’s Cathedral Church is an example of perfect cultural and architectural adaptation of Indian as well as Gothic architecture in the Church building. The main theme of this church is Christ-centric. The Church is constructed in the shape of a Cross.

The Wall of the Madbaha or Garbhagriha or the Holy of Holies is built in the form of a Chalice and paten, and in the middle of it, the Salvific suffering of Jesus Christ on the Calvary is depicted in the form of a Crucifix. A wooden relief work of the Last Supper of Jesus Christ is kept in front of the Main Altar in the Madbaha. On the top front arch of the Madbaha, displays the St. Thomas Cross carved in wood.

There are two side altars where the mercy and second coming of Jesus Christ in Divine Mercy and Ascension respectively are presented at the centre in the form of canvas painting. The upper window glasses in the Church show the passion of Jesus Christ for the Salvation of mankind through the Way of Cross. The lower window glasses in the church depict some of the life events of Jesus Christ. The twelve fan frames in the church carry the name of Jesus in twelve languages like Aramaic (the language spoken by Jesus in his lifetime), Hebrew, Greek, Hindi, Urdu, German, Italian, Tamil, Punjabi, Marathi, Telgu and Malayalam. On the top of the Six-edged dome, the symbols of Alpha and Omega are kept to show to the world that Jesus Christ is the beginning and the end. The two bell-towers in the front part of the Church ring out the joy of Good News. The two glass pictures of Mary, who brought forth Jesus Christ to the world and St. John the Baptist, the one who come to prepare the way of the Lord are placed in the front windows of the Church. The baptisry is placed in front of the right side altar symbolizing the Sacraments of Christian Initiation.

There are four side doors and one Main Door. On the Main door, there are two logos sculptured namely Year of Faith and St. Theresa’s Cathedral. Since the Cathedral is being consecrated in the Year of Faith, it is relevant to show at the main door of the Church, that this historical building in the City of Sagar stands for Christian faith. Top of every door, there are pictures of musical instruments in glass work which symbolize worship, welcome, praise, sacrifice, sharing and listening to the word of the Lord.

There are four statutes namely Mother Mary, St. Joseph, St. Thomas the Apostle and St. Theresa of Child Jesus. These statues are kept on two side altars in the Church. 

A holy relic (bone) of St. Theresa of Child Jesus is place in the middle of the left Side Altar. The Holy Myron or the Holy Chrism is placed in middle of the right side Altar.

The tabernacle on the main altar symbolizes the Arc of the Covenant. It stands as a symbol of the great promise of the Lord in the Old Testament in the Bible. On the top of the Tabernacle, the Great ten commandments of the Lord are engraved. There are two angles standing at both side of the tabernacle as a symbol of protecting the Arc of the Covenant.

The Cathedra or the Bishop’s official Chair is kept on the right side of the Altar. It is the throne (thronos) of the bishop in his cathedral church, on which he presides at solemn functions.

The glass pictures in the steel railings at the balcony in the Church show seven sacraments of Christian life.

A museum of Christian monuments of Sagar is displayed in the left side bell-tower and an another display of “Glimpses of History – Sagar Cathedral” in the right side bell-tower of the Church. The antique articles like vestments, flags, books etc. are displayed in the balcony of the Church.

There is a shrine dedicated to Mary of Good Health in the right side of the Church. A flag mast or the Dhwaj (or) Dhvaja Stambha is erected in front of the Church.

- fr. babu john


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