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Churches of Kerala

Christianity in Kerala is probably as old as the religion itself. The origin of Christianity in India dates back to 52 A.D. with the arrival of St. Thomas, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ at Kodungallur in Kerala then known as Musiris. He preached the Bible while he visited different parts of Kerala. During his journey he successfully converted a number of local inhabitants to Christianity including individuals from upper class sects such as the Namboodiri Brahmins. He is believed to have established seven and a half churches in Kerala some of which still exist and are accounted as some of the oldest churches in India and the world. The Syrian Christians migrated from Syria in 345 A.D. under the leadership of Thomas of Kana, maintained a separate identity from the Roman Catholics over the years and hence have different churches.

 

Malayattoor Church located on the Malayattoor hills, is one of the ancient Catholic churches believed to have been built by St. Thomas himself. The church is famous for its life-size statue of St. Thomas and imprints of his foot on a rock. The Church has been accorded the status of an international pilgrimage centre owing to its rare nature.

 

The Churches of Kerala are architecturally different in style from those in North India and are regarded as some of the oldest churches in the history of Christianity. The Churches of Kerala are largely divided into three main groups. They comprise of the Roman Catholic Church, the Protestant Church and the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church. There are equal numbers of churches under these sects.

Historical churches…

Malayattoor Church located on the Malayattoor hills is one of the ancient Catholic churches believed to have been built by St. Thomas himself. The church is famous for its life-size statue of St. Thomas and imprints of his foot on a rock. The Church has been accorded the status of an international pilgrimage centre owing to its rare nature.

 

St. Mary’s Forane Church located at Kuruvilangad is as old as Christianity itself. The church is embellished with a 48 feet high monolithic Cross carved out of a single stone. Millions of visitors throng to the church every year to take back holy water from the spring that flows through the church. The church also adorns some ancient Roman and Portuguese sculptures on its walls. The holy relics of St. Sebastian are also preserved here.

 

St. Peter’s and St. Paul’s Orthodox Church are the most important churches for the Malankara Syrian Christians as it contains the tomb of Mor Gregorios Geevarghese Chathuruthil, the only declared saint of Malankara.

 

Niranam Church is an ancient Malankara Orthodox Syrian church built by St. Thomas in 54 A.D. It is regarded as the symbol of Christianity in Kerala as it holds a lot of historical importance owing to its ancient nature.

 

St. Francis Church located in Kochi has a special place in history as Vasco-Da-Gama, the famous Portuguese sailor was buried here upon his death, though his remains were later taken to Portugal. His tomb still exists there.

 

The Palayur Church located near Guruvayur is one of the seven churches established by St. Thomas in 52 A.D.

 

The churches of Kerala are known all around the world for their architectural magnificence and historical importance. Some of them are symbolic of the birth of Christianity and provide great insights into the evolution and spread of the religion in Kerala and world over.

 

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