In the first century itself Christianity took roots in the Malabar cost. St. Thomas established first few churches there and now 11 of the 23 dioceses in India are in Kerala. St. Thomas the Apostle arrived in Cranganore in 52 AD and established seven Christian communities or churches in Kerala. They are in Cranganore, Paravur (Kottakavu), Palayoor, Kokkamangalam, Malayattoor, Niranam, Chayal (Nilackal) and Kollam (Quilon). When the Portuguese navigator Vasco Da Gama landed in Kerala there was 1500 East Syrian Church. The Europeanization process led to divisions in the Church, as there was considerable resistance against Western domination. The Christian communities then split into many groups - East Syrian Catholics, West Syrian Catholics, Syrian Orthodox, Jacobite Syrian Orthodox, Marthoma (those who accepted the Anglican Church but with the Eastern Liturgy), Church of the East (those who accepted the Nestorian Patriarch), and the Latin Church.Kerala has one vocation (priest brother, sister) for every 70 Catholics. No other community in the world has so many vocations.
The Europeanization process led to divisions in the Church, as there was considerable resistance against Western domination. The Christian communities then split into many groups - East Syrian Catholics, West Syrian Catholics, Syrian Orthodox, Jacobite Syrian Orthodox, Marthoma (those who accepted the Anglican Church but with the Eastern Liturgy), Church of the East (those who accepted the Nestorian Patriarch), and the Latin Church.Kerala has one vocation (priest brother, sister) for every 70 Catholics. No other community in the world has so many vocations.
St. Thomas Church, Palayur This is one among the Seven Church built by St. Thomas and considered as the oldest Church in India.Palayur was the stronghold of the Nambudiri Brahmins when St. Thomas arrived from Kodungallur. Israelites had a settlement at Palayur, two thousands years ago. Ruins of an ancient Jewish Synagogue are still seen outside of a Brahmin temple about a furlong away from the Church.
Lourdes Cathedral in ThrissurOur Lady of Lourdes Cathedral is the most famous large church in Thrissur and the tallest Church tower in Asia. The exterior features an Indo-European facade with pink spires.The Centenary of Our Lady of Lourdes was celebrated during the historic visit of Pope John Paul II to Trichur in 1986. The attractive underground shrine is also a big attraction.
Puthanpalli (New Church) at Thrissur This is the largest Syrian Catholic church of Asia as a gothic and historic style of architecture with 25,000 Sq.feet.
St. Thomas Church in Kodungallor Kodungallur is considered as the cradle of Christianity in India. In AD 52, the very first Christian church in India was constructed by Saint Thomas at a palace called Maliyenkara in Kodungallur. It is said to be the place where St. Thomas first preached Christianity in India. Azheekode is the present harbour area near Kodungallur, which recalls the ancient Muziris harbour.In the year 345 A.D., Knai Thoma, a rich merchant, and 72 families from Edessa (or modern Urfa), immigrated to Malabar (presently Kerala) and established their colony. In the group there were also priests, deacons and their bishop, Uraha Mor Ouseph (Bishop Joseph of Uraha/Urfa). Knai Thoma and his people were welcomed by Cheraman Perumal, the Emperor of Kerala, and were given permission to settle down in Kodungallor. They built a town in Kodungallor with a church and 72 houses.
Angamali St. George Forane Church. The newly built St. George Forane Church is one of the largest churches in South India. It is situated at Angamali , where the histories of Christian Beliefs are engraved in golden letters. The Church covers an area of 24000 sq. ft. Below the Church, is situated the 16000 sq. ft. Main Parish Hall and above which two mini Parish Halls, each covering about 3500 sq. ft. is located.The old Church was renovated and blessed by His Grace Mar Varkey Vithayathil on December 31st, 2006.
Malayattoor Church Malayattoor is known for the Catholic Church, dedicated to St. Thomas, the apostle of Jesus Christ. The annual festival of 'Malayattoor Perunnal', during the months of March /April. This hill shrine at Malayattoor has emerged as the largest pilgrim centre. The biggest and most auspicious occasion here is the feast of St. Thomas, which is observed on the first Sunday after Easter, when thousands throng the shrine.The church has a combination of Greco-Roman architecture with the altar designed in traditional Greek style, and the front portion of the church following the traditional Roman Catholic Church architecture. Behind the central altar, one can see the carvings, designs and paintings, which include the five joyful mysteries of Jesus Christ. The church also has separate facilities for confession and adoration. Devotees who arrive at the shrine make several types of offerings. Some of them climb the hill carrying cross in their shoulders; women folk would carry long brooms with them with prayers for prosperity. Some pilgrims carry stones on their heads, a gesture meant to remove burdens from their lives.
Arattungal Church This church is one of the most famous Christian pilgrimage centers in Kerala, and has a distinguished history of tolerance, faith and charity. Officially known as St. Andrew's Forane Church at Arthunkal. It is one of the sacred churches in Kerala that attracts hundred thousands of devotees both Christians and non-Christians every year from all parts of the State.On the 18th day of January at the day dawns and the gates of the church are opened, thousands of pilgrims who return from the Sastha temple of Sabarimala throng to this sacred place, take bath from the tank attached to the church and pay their homage to the Saint.
Edathua Church Established in 1810, the church is dedicated to St. George. The massive shrine on the banks of the river Pamba is modeled on the medieval churches of Europe. The festival at Edathua commences on the 27th of April. The idol of St. George is placed on the central dais of the basilica during the festival days.
Manarcad St. Mary's Church Manarcad cathedral is the most important church among the ancient churches of Malankara. The stone inscriptions found at the church reveal that the church was built more than 1000 years ago. The unseen presence and blessings of Virgin Mary, the Manarcad Church, the 8 day Fast and other observances have withstood the passage of time and attained international reputation.
St. Mary's Forae Church, Bharananganam. This is the place where the mortal remains of Blessed Alphonsa of India are kept in a chapel next to St. Mary's Church.
St. Francis Church,Fort Kochi. St. Francis Church, originally dedicated to Santo Antonio, the Patron Saint of Portugal, is the first European Church in India. The history of this ancient church reflects the colonial struggle of the European powers in India, from the15th through 20th century. The church was originally a wooden structure dedicated to St Bartholomew within the fort built in 1503, by the Portuguese. The protestant Dutch captured Kochi in 1663 and in 1779 they renovated this Church. In 1804, the Dutch voluntarily surrendered the church to the Anglican Communion. It is believed that the Anglicans changed the name of the patron saint to St. Francis. Vasco Da Gama was buried here in 1524 before his remains were moved to Lisbon, Portugal. The tombstone still remains.
Santa Cruz Cathedral. This Roman Catholic Cathedral close to St. Francis Church was built by the Portuguese and elevated to a Cathedral by Pope Paul IV in 1558. In 1795, the British demolished the original building. Nearly a hundred years later in 1887, Bishop Dom Gomez Ferreira commissioned a new building which was proclaimed as a Basilica in 1984 by Pope John Paul II. Built in the neo-classical style the pulpit is carved on wood and has a fantastic pastel-coloured interior. This church has some very beautiful paintings on the ceiling.
St. Mary's Church, Vallarpadam. A major pilgrim center for Christians, St. Mary's church is located in the middle of Vallarpadam island across the backwaters from the mainland Ernakulam This popular shrine was built by the Portuguese missionaries in 1524. The church has the famous picture of the 'Blessed Virgin Mary' which the Portuguese brought from their native land. History has it that the old church, which was then known as the Church of the Holy Spirit, was destroyed in floods in the 17th century and a new church was built on the same spot in 1676. It was declared a special church by Pope Leo XIII in 1888. The church was declared the status of a basilica on February 12, 2005.
CSI Immanuel Church The Immanuel Church Ernakulam, which is now under the North Kerala Diocese of the Church of South India was established 99 years ago under the Diocese of Travancore-Cochin, on 56 cents of land that was bought in 1905 by the Rev. J.H. Bishop, who built the Church as a memorial for two eminent missionaries, the Rev. E.B. Russell who had served the Church of England in Travancore-Cochin during 1897-99 and the Rev. A.B. Sealy, the first Principal of Maharaja's College, Ernakulam who had served in that capacity from 1875 to 1892 and as Director of Education, Cochin State. The Church was, accordingly known as the Russell Sealy Memorial Church.
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