Some years ago I was hanging around outside the Paul VI audience hall (Vatican) during a plenary session of the Italian Bishops Conference.
I was at that church just over a year ago to sing a Mass and give a talk sponsored by the group Iuventutem. My Business - ARCHITECTURE This 'minor basilica' has morphed from a simple shrine into the current beautiful semi - gothic structure that we see and enjoy today. Over the years, devotion and love for Our Lady have helped scores of people  contribute towards its development and upkeep. As I waited I chatted with fellow journalists, the bishops’ drivers and secretaries, a couple bishops who had fled the hall in the despair of boredom. The day before, I had been to a Eucharistic procession held by the Teutonic College, next to the Paul VI Hall, that went up through the Vatican gardens. An arch above the main portal has the emblem of the Basilica – AM, initial letters of the famous greeting of Angel Gabriel to Mary at the time of the Annunciation, in Latin: AVE MARIA.
These letters are mounted on a crown and enriched by two stems of lilies, symbolizing Mary’s queenship and her virginal purity.The third floor consists of four windows, and a prominent circle with the inscription ANNO JUBILAEI 1904 – the golden jubilee year of the promulgation of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception, and the year of the inauguration of this new Basilica. When rung in unison they sound heavenly?      ?                              The Ave Maria emblem is clearly visible, 'Bandora' then 'Bandra' now                                          This bell is still rung daily                                                                                                      At each corner of each tower a stone pillar with Corinthian capitals is marvelously made to stand erect.


In addition to the main entrance, there are four side entrances, and above each of these doors there is a large window throwing light into the nave.     The Life of Mary in murals?     The inside walls of this stone structure originally bore some beautiful murals, highlighting the events in the life of Mary, painted during the time of the first Rector. Since they had faded with the passage of time, they have been replaced by beautiful  fiberglass murals depicting the same story of Mary.
Vimala (PDDM) and a group of artists from Goregaon, under the personal supervision of the present Rector, Msgr. Nereus Rodrigues.  The Teak wood Workmanship The ceiling of the nave, 42 feet high, is made of teak wood. The loft rests on either side on four teak wood columns, with fluted shafts and Corinthian capitals. The one to the North, dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, was consecrated by the late Cardinal Valerian Gracias on the occasion of the Consecration of the Shrine, 8th Nov 1954.       Projections Adjacent to the area of the side altars one finds projections on either side. The projection on the northern side, which was earlier a side chapel for private masses, now serves at the Eucharistic chapel. When one observes this projection from outside one cannot but notice the letters IHS, encircled by a crown of thorns, which are mounted on the outer side of the rear wall.
A number of liturgical symbols are engraved on the outer body of the pulpit, like the loaves and fish, the two tablets of the Ten Commandments, symbols of Christ – IHS and PX, etc.


A large Crucifix above the pulpit is reverently approached by most visitors.  Mary’s Prophetic Words on the Arch  Exactly above the pulpit, one can see Mary’s prophetic words – “ALL GENERATIONS SHALL CALL ME BLESSED”, prepared artistically in wooden letters and painted in gold.
They occupy a prominent place on top of the semi-circular stone arch that separates the nave from the sanctuary. High up on the altar is the venerable statue of Mary with the Christ-child that attracts all visitors. The altar also has a beautiful circular tabernacle to preserve the Blessed Sacrament, with the words  PANIS VITAE (Bread of Life – in Latin) engraved over the door.   This Last Supper is highly detailed and is a must see for visitors  Embedded in the main altar is a marble plaque representing Our Lord’s Supper surrounded by his chosen twelve Apostles.
This plaque was inserted later by His Lordship Bishop Longinus Pereira to whom it was presented on the occasion of his visit to the Jesuit Seminary, Vinayalaya, in Andheri.



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