Situated atop a small hill at an elevation of 262 ft., Basilica of Our Lady of the Mount, Mumbai, Maharashtra, is a Roman Catholic church in Bandra. The church offers beautiful views of the Arabian Sea and the city’s skyline. Popularly known as Mount Mary Church, the kirk is over a century old. However, the statue of Virgin Mary protected inside dates back to the 16th century. The road that leads to the church is dotted with many shops and stalls that sell candles and flowers, among other offerings of worship. People of all faiths and beliefs visit the church to attain peace and tranquility.
Mount Mary Church, Bandra - History
During the late 15th century, a Jesuit Priest wanted to construct a small chapel dedicated to Virgin Mary. The first structure of the chapel was constructed with mud on a small hill overlooking the Arabian Sea in Bandra. In 1640, this structure was transformed into a chapel. The transformation took place due to the increased number of devotees and visitors.
During the 1700s, the church was invaded by a pirate army of Muscat Arabs. They chopped off the right arm of the statue of Virgin Mary and destroyed the church. The broken statue was then replaced with the Our Lady of Navigators statue which was brought in from a side altar of a nearby church called St. Andrew’s Church. In 1761, the broken statue of Virgin Mary was fixed and the church was rebuilt. The locals built a small detachable statue of baby Jesus in the place where the hand was chopped off. Currently, the same statue of Virgin Mary is worshipped at the church.
Mount Mary Church - Architecture
The magnificent facade of Mount Mary Church is an elegant semi-gothic structure. On the ground floor, the entrance houses a huge, charming door and windows on either side. The arch above the main portal of the church has an emblem with the initials A.M. etched on it. The A.M. - Ave Maria is a Latin term used by Angel Gabriel to greet Mother Mary. These alphabets are written on a crown structure and surrounded by two small lilies on either side of it.
The walls of the church are decked with delicate fiberglass murals that depict the life of Mother Mary. The statue of Mother Mary holding baby Jesus is situated on a seven-step high altar. ‘The Last Supper’ is etched on a marble plaque on the lowest level of the altar.
Mount Mary Fair
Mount Mary Fair, also known as Bandra Fair, is an 8-day long event to celebrate the birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The fair is believed to be 300 years old. About thousands of devotees and pilgrims visit the shrine of Mount Mary every year. The fair usually starts on the 8th of September and the church hosts a feast called the ‘Feast of Nativity’ on this day. After the fair, Mount Mary Church performs Novena - 9 days of prayer for Mary, which makes it a 17-day long affair!