Christ the King Church, Loyola College, Chennai - The Architectural Marvel
Christ the King Church was designed and built in 1931 by Architect S. A. Gnana Pragasam Pillai at the behest of Rev. Fr. Francis Bertram S.J., founder Principal (1924-1935) and second Rector (1926-36) of Loyola College. It is smaller in length, width and height when it is compared to many other churches built by Jesuits in Tamil Nadu but definitely unique with its majestic exterior.
The 157 feet tall single German spire rising on the central portal along with the slender needle pinnacles set as corner elements, on the piers and the fliers of the buttress gives the church a flamboyant elevation. The spire which is an open work type in some measure is penetrated with tall lancet arches filled with tracery windows. Since the tall lancets relegate the use of rose windows to the background in the church it may be grouped under the lancet Gothic model as in the cases of Salisbury (England) and Milan (Italy) Cathedrals.
The portals (three in number) are not ornate and the Gothic features of the exterior and interior are usual but the distinctive feature the like of which is not to be seen in no other Gothic churches of the state is the flying buttresses. The fliers of them carry a two layered decoration in which crockets borne by thin stems surmount a sloppy line of standing quarterfoils. Attractive pinnacles cap the vertical buttresses (piers). The first pair of fliers near the central spire has beautiful capping pinnacles at the meeting point with piers that are taller than those behind them.
The octagonal lantern has beautiful gable topped louvre lancets on all the sides, interspersed with small pinnacles. The octagonal spire has both blind and empty dormers with gables set in two tiers. The beautiful central gable above the middle portal and the blind trefoil arcade at the bottom of the big lancet window in the first floor of the steeple enhances the front elevation.
The interior is so simple and less chromatic without stained glass paintings, coloured vaults and arches, attractive altarpieces and statuary. Yet, the façade as it appears to the viewers who take a look at it from a distance by standing on the road in front of the church, is awesome. Above all, the profile of the façade that unfolds like the bow of an ancient Roman ship, and the buttresses that stretch out like the oars rowed by the slaves confined in its lower deck, may remind us of the sequence of a naval battle between the Roman and the Macedonian brigands that features in the legendry film, Benhur.
The grandeur of the church was, thus, described at the time of consecration: “The sacred edifice stands out in all its beauty, elegance and slimness with its harmonious lines clear cut on the blue azure, towards which walls, turrets, buttresses, parapets, roof, spire all soar and coverage carrying aloft with them, the soul of the onlooker.”
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Unique Contributions of Loyola
College to Higher Education
Over the last nine decades, the
contributions of Loyola College to higher education has been highly influential
and remarkable as a pioneer in the field of education that has created an
avalanche of innovative and best practices for other educational institutions
to inspire and emulate.
1. Educational Policies and
In 1978, Loyola was one of the first
eight colleges to receive autonomous status which helped the college to uphold
its educational policies concerning admissions that aim at providing University
Education in a Christian atmosphere for deserving students, especially for
Catholics, Dalits and the underserved sections of the society.
Loyola has been known for its
path-breaking ventures like bringing forth some innovative programs and courses
that have inspired many institutions to adopt them into their teaching and
One of the flagship programmes of the
college and the only one of its kind that emerged as a precursor in the 1970s
was the two-year Diploma in Visual Communication offered by Loyola Institute of
Visual Communication (LIVCOM) as an evening program. Owing to the remarkable recognition
from the media industry, the college started a full-fledged Degree in Visual
Communication in 1989.
Emphasizing the Ignatian pedagogy and
spirituality, the Foundation Course was designed to inculcate values in the
future leaders of our nation. The program is run by an exclusive academic unit,
the School of Human Excellence (SHE), committed to guiding students in their
values-centred pursuit of becoming men and women for and with others in
3. Research and Innovation
Loyola has a strong research culture.
It is the only Arts and Science College which figured in Current
Science magazine for research contributions to national development.
Loyola is the only Arts and Science College in India to be recognized as a Scientific
and Industrial Research Organization (SIRO) by the Department of Scientific and
Industrial Research (DSIR), Government of India.
4. Student Support
A very significant contribution that
Loyola College makes to higher education and society is the avalanche of Good
Samaritan services it renders to the student community.
Centre for Differently-Abled (RCDA)
Loyola College has set a trend
nationally in stepping first to help the differently-abled students. There is
an exclusive facility, Resource Centre for the Differently Abled (RCDA),
established with the fund received from UGC-HEPSN and the National Institute of
Visually Handicapped (NIVH), Ministry of Social Justice and empowerment,
Government of India. RCDA was chosen to serve as the Model Resource Centre of
Disability Services (MRCDS), the first of its kind in the nation to fulfil the
needs of the Differently-Abled students with specialized digital devices and
4.2. Loyola Students Support
An exclusive service unit, LSSS, was
established to offer academic, financial and personal support services, such as
Scholarships, Management Concession, Free Noon Meal, Special English Program,
Supplementary Education, Special Coaching, Remedial Programmes, Personality
Development through Life Skills, Art and Literature and a Special Assistance to
Foreign Students. One of its chief focus is empowering students from
marginalized section of the society especially, the Dalits, to face the
challenges in life with dignity.
Loyola pays a great deal of attention
towards personal and mental wellbeing of the students through counselling which
is predominantly carried out by AURA, the Centre for Counselling at the
college. Loyola is proud to be a pioneer among educational institutes that have
professional counsellors serving fulltime to attend to the needs and problems
of the students at their intrapersonal, interpersonal and social levels.
Loyola has a staunch commitment to
moulding the students through academic mentoring. The Academic Staff are
trained exclusively to handhold the young aspirants as their mentors to guide,
support and sort out the academic and personal issues and help them complete
their studies successfully.
4.5. Financial Supports
Loyola offers a tremendous financial
support to economically disadvantaged students. Every semester, the college
management provides fee concession through Jesuit Educational Support (JES) to
students from poor families. In 2018-19, the college has issued around 1.60
crore rupees as a management fee concession to 2600 students.
5. Reaching out to
One of the best practices for which
Loyola has been well-known in the national higher educational arena is the
effort constantly made to reach out to the local community in total
5.1. Loyola FM 107.4
The college had ventured into an
exceptional service by establishing Loyola FM 107.4, a community
radio frequency over a radius of 15 km. Through Loyola Community Radio, the
college addresses various issues related to the neighbourhood airing a variety
of special programs for Transgender, gipsies, widows, visually challenged,
street vendors, slum dwellers, auto drivers, etc.
5.2. Loyola Rain Relief Service
Another very unique service that has
set trend among educational institutes across the country is establishing LRRS
during the November 2015 rain, which initiated to provide the rain-affected
people living in the slum areas of the city of Chennai with food materials and
clothes. Loyola Rain Relief Services had 30 staff, and 250 energetic student
volunteers, and a medical team consisting of 8 doctors offering medical
treatment to nearly 1750 flood victims housed in Loyola premises. Through LRRS,
a rain relief camp was initiated for Post Graduate students to offer their
service to rain-affected areas especially the Gaja cyclone-hit areas in
Another exceptional venture of the
college is pioneering in community service through the Outreach Program that
functions under the School of Service Learning. The college had taken up around
50 slums (urban villages or sub-standard settlements) around the college campus
falling under the zones 5, 7 and 8 of the Chennai Corporation. The UG students
are required to complete 120 hours of community service and PG students visit
villages and experience life at the grassroots level to prepare themselves to
serve these underserved people in their future.
Since 1925, Loyola College has been making
impactful contributions to the economic growth of the country, formation of the
brilliant minds, and shaping the young leaders of tomorrow in alignment with
the motto of the college forming men and women in service of others.
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