DHYANA ASHRAM

The chequered history of the Church in Dhyana Ashram ”MA DE DEUS” (Mother of God) Begins with the arrival of St. Francis Xavier at Mylapore in 1545. He stayed for a few months in San Thome Area. When he bade goodbye to San Thome, the local people begged him to send some missionaries to live with and work for them. Accordingly in 1547, Fr. Alphonso Cyprian arrived and took his residence at San Thome. The Bishop and the Governor of San Thome gave the Jesuits five acres of land which is now the present campus of Dhyana Ashram.

As the Christian Population increased, a new church was built, dedicated to Mae De Deus and Blessed by Fr. Alexandr Valignano S J , The visitor of the Society of Jesus on 8th September1576 till the suppression of the Society in 1773. The Portughese Jesuits maintained the Church.

Fr. Robert De Nobili the great founder of Madurai Mission and pioneer of inculturation was said to have come here to spend his last days and was buried somewhere here.

A college also was started by the Jesuits under the patronage of the King of Vijaya Nagar. This probably was situated at the present site of Bon Secours convent which is just opposite . The Dhyana Ashram area became the centre of Missionary activity. There were about fifty horses at the disposal of the Jesuit Missionaries to enable them to travel to various places.

When the Society was suppressed ( 1773- 1814 ). The PADRUADO priests took care of the Mae De Deus Church. During this period the chapel of Our Lady of guidance church ( Lazarus Church) and the chapel of Visitation 9 St. Mary’s Road , Alwarpet ) were attached to Mae De Deus Church as substations.

In 1925 the Jesuits were called back by Arch Bishop Allen of Madras to start the Educational Apostolate. The Loyola Collegewas founded in 1925. In 1957 Arch Bishop Louis Mathias SDB invited the Jesuits to start a Retreat house which was built in 1958. In 1985 Arch Bishop Arulappa gave back the area in perpetuum to Jesuits.

The Mae De dues church built as early as 1576, could not withstand the onslaught of from centuries of the heat of Madras nor the corroding winds from the Bay of Bengal. Hence the foundation stone for a new church was blessed by Arch Bishop James Aruldaas on February 28th 1999 and laid by Fr. D. Jeyaraj, the Provincial on 19th March 1999. The new church was consecrated on 11th February 2000.