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Syrian Churches of Kerala

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This article deals with the various old churches that are existing among the Saint Thomas Christians denominations that form the Nasrani people.

Niranam St. Mary’s Orthodox Syrian Church

This church is believed to have founded by St. Thomas , the Apostle of Jesus Christ, in AD 54. The present building, supposedly the fourth, was constructed in 1912 and was reinforced during the year 2000. Among the attractions at the church are a huge Cross made of granite, relics of St. Thomas, remnants of the old church, the golden cross, etc.

Kuravilangadu St. Mary's Forane (Martha Mariam) Church

File:Stmary.jpg St. Mary's Church, Kuravilangad.[1]

One of the oldest churches of Kerala is the St Mary’s Church Kuravilangadu,[2] which was supposed to have been established in 105 A. D. It is believed that Mother Mary's first appearance in the world, was in Kuravilangad. Our Lady appeared to a few children at Kuravilangad, who were tending their flock in the bushes. Mary asked them to build a church at the place from where a miraculous perpetual spring sprouted, a spring which exists even today. The children reported this matter to the elders and a church was built there.

The statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary kept at the side altar is unique. It is carved from granite and it is believed that it was brought from North India. This is a miraculous statue and the devotees call this statue "Kuravilangad Muthiyamma". The granite cross in a single block of 48 feet in front of the church was erected around 1597. The devotes offer coconut oil in the lamps at the foot of the cross. On first Fridays devotees stand in queue from early morning to late in the evening to offer oil. There is an ancient bell with the engraving in Syriac "Mother of God". Three bells were brought from Germany in 1911. There is a "perpetual" spring, believed to be miraculous.{fact} the old church and the eight tongued coconut scraper. Moonnu Nompu" is the main feast of the church.

There are solemnities during Moonnu Nompu (three-day fast) functions during Lent. A 40 feet (12 m) wooden ship, built with prow, stern, masts and rigging, having on one side an effigy of Jonah being vomited by the fish as per the orders of the Lord, and on the deck wooden mariners in western costume, has been for centuries the centre of attraction in the mid-day procession. Amidst the surging mass of humanity the depiction attempts to create the image that the sea is furious, the waves are beating against the sides of the ship and violent winds rip the sails our of control. Thousands of people from all over Kerala come to this three-day-feast. The ceremonial procession on the second day of the feast when the replica of Jonah's vessel is ceremonially transported is the main event of the feast.

Mar Alexander De Campo (Parampil Chandy Metran) was born in Kuravilangad. He was the first indigenous bishop of the whole of India. He was ordained bishop in 1663 by Mar Sebastany a foreign bishop. Mar Alexander lived in Kuravilangad till his death, 2 January 1687.

Kaduthuruthy St Marys Thazhathupally

The stone is believed to have been laid for Kaduthuruthy St Marys Thazhathupally on 15 August 1009 A.D. This Church continued to be renewed from time to time. The present existing old church took its shape in 1590 with the characteristics of Gothic Art. “The altar of this church shows the excellence to which altar carving has ever reached” [3]

Aruvithura St. George's Forane Church

The first edifice of the church at Irapeli was of granite stone after the manner of Hindu temples. It was rebuilt once or twice before the 16th century as it is reported. Towards the beginning of the 16th century a new church was built This 16th century church was demolished in 1951 preserving the sanctuary with its vaulting within the right transept of the cruciform church to enshrine the statue of St. George, its second patron. Some believe the statue to be miraculous. This is a cruciform church in the Gothic style, facing to the west towards Jerusalem, and was completed in 1952.

St Mary's Church, Kudamaloor

St. Mary's church Kudamaloor is one of the ancient churches of the Syro-Malabar Rite. It is a Marian pilgrim center. It is situated 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) north of Kottayam town. "Alphonsa Bhavan" - the birthplace of Blessed Alphonsa is under this parish. Mannanam, a pilgrim center, where the tomb of Blessed Kuriakose Elias Chavara situates, is also under this parish.

The old church was built by King Chempakasserry on AD 1125. There is a legend associated with the establishment of this church. Once, the Chempakassery Rajah was about to start an important journey. When he entered into the cart, the horses stood stationary and many attempts failed to move them. The King had to postpone his journey. The King ordered the chief astrologer to find the reason behind his journey disruption. The astrologer found that the place where the horses stood was a battlefield. The King excavated the area and found many skeletons of many warriors. The King listened to the advice of the astrologer and he decided to establish a church and immigrated five Nasrani families namely, Mukkunkal, Chakkunkal, Palathunkal, Thekkedam and Vadakkedam and gave land and wealth these families. In addition, families like Alumkal, Thuruthumali, Perumali, Thayyil etc. also settled as a result of Christian immigration during the establishment of Kudamaloor church. Out of these families only traces of Mukkunkal and Thekkedam are around the Church of Kudamaloor and the rest all have disintegrated to various parts or have changed their family names after successive partitions, to worship . The present day Syrian Christians in this area are these immigrants.

The church is dedicated to " Mukthiamma" (Blessed Virgin Mary). The church used to have a pulpit built on a wooden elephant and the main beam is still decorated with elephant’s head; these features are very characteristic of the Hindu influence. The church is very famous for the rituals during the Holy week.

References

  1. [1]
  2. St Mary Kuravilangad website
  3. Thomas Christian Architecture P.145

External references

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