Immaculate Conception Cathedral

Phone : 91-413-2332857

Immaculate Conception Cathedral is the cathedral mother church for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Pondicherry and Cuddalore. It is also known as “Samba Kovil”, which is a phonetic corruption of “Saint Paul’s Kovil” where “Kovil” means church. Located on Mission Street, this cathedral, which bears a strong resemblance to a church in France, was built in 1791 on the ruins of the older church. The imposing facade presents paired Doric columns below and ionic above. In front of the church is a statue of Our Lady with the infant Jesus in her arms. The interior design consists of eight barrel vaults and a central dome pierced with eight circular openings.
The Jesuit Fathers came to the French colony of Pondicherry as missionaries in 1689. There they bought a very large garden to the west of the French Fort. In the 1692 they, with the financial help of Louis XIV, king of France, erected a church which was demolished by the Dutch in the following year. A second Church was quickly built in 1699 but could not last long.
From 1728 to 1736 a large church was built on the site of the present Cathedral. This third church was razed to the ground by the British in 1761 during the Seven Years War.
Provisionally erecting in 1765 (fourth in serial) a functional kind of irregular shaped shed where the Mission Press (official press depot of the archdiocese) is now, since the year 1770 the Fathers were earnest in building the present cathedral on the foundations of the 3rd Church. On 20 June 1791 the main work was finished and the Church was consecrated by Bishop Champenois. The Bell tower was built later. The choir loft was added in 1905. The Sanctuary was remodelled in the year 1970. The esplanade in front of the Cathedral was remodelled in 1987, to allow people to take part in liturgical ceremonies and special functions held outside.
The Fest of this Church i.e., Immaculate Conception of Blessed Virgin Mary falls on the 8th of December. The 300 years old church is also the residence of the bishop.
Mass services in Tamil and English are conducted.
It is one of the oldest tourist sites in the city and was visited by Mother Teresa during her visit to Puducherry.

204, Mission Street, Near V.O.C School Mission Street