St. Mary’s Forane Church Athirampuzha
The Church traces its existence back to 835 AD
The forane church of Athirampuzha, a world renowned pilgrim centre of St.Sebastian is dedicated to Blessed Virgin Mary.This church about 10Kms away from kottayam has been the hub of Christian life in and around central kerala from early 9th century. This is one of the biggest parishes of the Archeparchy of Changanassery. It consists of almost 2500 families and the total number of the faithful exceeds 10000.
Athirampuzha church must trace back her history to the Ettonnussery Illam which was the power centre of the local kingdom. It is said that the Namboodiri of this Illam donated the land to build a church in the name of blessed virgin Mary as a token of gratitude on the Miraculous birth of his son. The Church was blessed on August 15th 835 AD. Gradually it became an independent church and later was elevated to the status of a forane in 1929. The church also witnessed many historical events like the historic journey of Mar Abraham Karivatti and paremakkal Thoma Kathanar to Rome, the All India Eucharistic congress-the first and the last of its kind in Kerala conducted from 8 th to 15th May 1929.
The Church is an exemplary specimen of ancient architecture. There were ancient stones with engravings and Thaliyollas in ‘Nanam Moonam’ alphabet kept in the church. Here there is a good collection of objects of historic, Artistic, Archival, Archaeological and anthropological interest in granite, wood, metal ,ivory, including Granite cross, Altar, Bells, Articles used in holy Qurbana …etc.
The present church was constructed during the time of Fr.Joseph Ithiparambil. The renovation began in 1962 and was consecrated by Mar Mathew Kavukattu, the Archbishop of Changanachery in 1966. The church, brilliantly enshrining the western architecture, in 180 feet tall and 55 feet wide. The ‘madbaha and Roopakoodu’ were build in Portuguese style. The intricate altar engraving, the awesome gothic structure, the three huge glockenspiels in the belfry, the well known Kalkurish and the renowned feast of St.Sebastian with all its traditional ethos and the magnificent pyrotechnics- all these adorn the church and its elegance.
The Cheriapally(Little or small church) is situated in the location where the first church was built and blessed in AD 835.It was renovated to the present form by Fr.Thomas Olakkapady and was blessed by his Excellency Kurialacherry Mar Thoma on January 22nd, 1919. Cheriapally is situated 200 meters away from the Valiapally. The Church is known in the name of St.Sebastian. Meeting the demands of the time, recently the church was renovated by very Rev. Dr. Mani puthiyidom.
The Church has two main feasts: the feast of St.Mary and the feast of St.Sebastian
The church dedicated to blessed virgin Mary Celebrates her feast on 3rd Sunday of September. This Festal celebration is commonly called as Kannimasa Perunal / naragana Perunal. The members of Darsans Samooham (a pious association) plays a major role in this feast. They participate in their special costumes in the mass and Procession.
As per the record, the feast of st.sebastian was started at Athirampuzha church from the year 1647.Now the principal festal week in from 19th to 26th of January every year. The flag hoisting ceremony marking the beginning of the festival is on 19th.The annual feast attracts a large no. of devotees from all over south India. The statue of St.Sebastian installed here is considered very ancient. During the days of the Portuguese, three figures were brought to kerala. Legend says that the smallest of them has brought to Athirampuzha by local traders. This is known as ‘Adiyelpicha Roopam’ (the Tortured Figure). The statue of St.Sebastian in Athirampuzha is unique as it is the only statue of the saint without arrowation is very attractive.
St. Sebastian’s statue is exposed for public veneration only during the feastal season. The dazzling display of fireworks in connection with the festival is a colorful visual treat. The procession is a spiritual ablu for the devotees. Band set including school bands, flags, gold-brass-silver wooden crosses, allavattom, venchamaram, Thazahakkuda, theevetti and beaded ornate umbrellas etc make the procession very gorgeous and regal. Ettamidam extends the celebration for eight more days. The Festival comes to an end by February 1.
St.Mary’s Forane Church
Kottayam – 686562
Phone : 0481 2730 742, 0481 2730 559, 0481 2730 159
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Categories: Pilgrim Centers