Church History

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The land of Kuravilangad is blessed by the esteemed presence of St. Mary’s Forane Church, which was built in 105 A.D(just one hundred years before Constantine declared Christianity as the official religion in the Roman Empire). It is believed, 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. Our Lady 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 the events to the elders and a church was built there. 

Martha Mariam church is the ancestral home of Christian communities in Kerala and out side the State. It is in Meenachil Taluk, 22 kms north of Kottayam, on the eastern side of M.C. Road. Martha Mariam Church belongs to the diocese of Palai. Traditional beliefs, some legendary factors and historical associations contribute to the actual history of the church. It is believed that four Christian families - viz. Palli (Kalli), Kaliyakal (kalikavu), Sankarapuri and Pakalomattam from Palayur arrived at Ettumanoor and they moved to Kalikavu near Kuravilangad in the beginning of the second century.Kuruvilangad Church's Altar Fountain It is also believed that Our Lady appeared to a few children at Kuravilangad, who were tending their flock in the bushes. Our Lady 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 present church was completed in 1960 when Rev. Fr. Thomas Manakattu was the parish priest.

Kuravilangad has a unique place in the history of the Church of Malabar. The temporal administration of the church was conducted by Archdeacons who were very influential in the society. It is believed that the Archdeacons have been descended from the Pakalomattam family. The mortal remain of a few Archdeacons are still preserved at the Pakalomattam Chapel.Mar Alexander De Campo (Parampil Chandy Metran) is an illustrious son of Kuravilangad. He is the first indigenous bishop of the whole of India. He was ordained bishop on first February 1663 by Mar Sebastany a foreign bishop. Mar Alexander was staying at Kuravilangad till his death, 2nd January 1687.Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Nidhiri ( Nidhirikal Mani kathanar ) (1842- 1904) of Kuravilangad is a colossus in the history of the church in Kerala. He was an eminent educationalist, orator, organizer and a champion of ecumenism. He was the first editor of the first Malayalam daily "Deepika". As vicar of the Kuravilangad church, he started the St.Mary's English school for boys in 1894. The present president of India, K. R. Narayanan matriculated from this school.Fr. Jacob Panamkuzhakal (Panamkuzhakal Valliyachan) (1479-1543) was a very holy priest of Kuravilangad. Many people testify on the favours received through the intercession of Fr. Jacob. The Panamkuzhakal family celebrates the death anniversary of Fr. Jacob on 5th November every year.

Moonnu Nombu Thirunnal

 

"Moonnu Noimbu" is the main feast of the church. Thousands of people from all over Kerala come to this three-days-feast. The ceremonial procession on the second day of the feast when the replica of the vessel used by prophet Jonah of the OT is taken out is the main attraction of the feast. The people of the Kadapoor locality has the privilege to carry the vessel during the procession.

 

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.An ancient bell with the engraving on Syriac "Mother of God" speaks loudly of the traditional faith of christian community here in Kerala.

Three majestic bells that peal out the glory of Kuravilangad were brought from Germany in 1911.The eight tongued coconut scraper is a marvel in carpentry. It is carved out of a single block of wood. It was used to scrape coconuts for the "Monnu Nompu" feast. The church is noted for its old bell, which contains inscriptions belonging to some unknown script. Another significant artifact is a model of a ship made from wood.

Archdeacons




Kuravilangad has acquired an unassailable place in ecclesiastical history as it was the home parish of the Archdeacons, the ‘jyathikku karthavyan’ of St. Thomas Christians until the 16th century. The Archdeacons, many of them believed to have been from Pakalomattom family, administered the day to day affairs of the chirch. It was customary for the Archedeacon to officiate at the coronation ceremony of the King of Perumpadappil which consisted of the latter being invested by the Archdeacon with a gold cross around his neck, which the king requited by presenting the Archdeacon with a ring. The mortal remains of some Archdeacons are still preserved at the Pakalomattam Chapel.

Mar Alexander De Campo

Alexander de campo of kuravilagnad

It is indeed a privilege obtained to Kuravilangad to have given birth to one of the brave sons of the church, Mar Alexander De Campo (Parampil Chandy Methran) Consecrated as the titular Bishop of Megara and Vicar Apostolic of Malabar, he guided the church of India during one of its most turbulent epochs. Right from the day of his consecration on 1st February 1663 to his death on 2nd January 1687 he strove hard to bring back the separated brethren to the Mother Church. Had it not been for the tireless labours of Mar Alexander de Campo whose see was Kuravilangad , the church of Kerala would not have been what it is today.

Nidhirikkal Mani Kathanar

 

Kuravilangad can really be proud of her great son Rt. Rev. Emmanuel Nidhiri (Popularly known as ‘Nidhirikkal Mani Kathanar’). Born of ittiyavira and Rosa on 27th May 1842, he was an ardent devotee of the church, and it would be hard to find a figure of comparable stature in the history of Malabar Church. A far-sighted educationist, gifted orator of reunion, this polygot child of Kuravilangad has left indelible imprints on the mind of his contemporaries and posterity. As a vicar of Kuravilangad, he contributed greatly to the Reunion Movement and started English Education here in 1894. That he was the founder and the first wditor of ‘The Deepika’ first daily newspaper to be published in Malayalamspeak volumes for his far sighted cultural and educational policies. Before his deatrh on 2oth June 1904, he had been virtually persecuted for his stance in favour of indigenous hierarchy and the reunion movement in the Malabar Church. Indented to celebrate the blessed memory of Prophet Jonah (who lived three days and nights inside a fish) the ‘Moonnu Nombu’ is the major festival of Kuravilangad. The famous ‘Kappal Prathikshanam’(a ceremonial procession in which a replica of the vessel used by Prophet Jonah is carried along by the people of Kadapoor) on the second day of the feast engenders in the minds of faithful pious memories of the perilous voyage undertaken by the Prophet. The third and concluding day of the feast is, indeed the feast of Parish community.

Cheria Palli (St. Sebastian’s Church)

This church dedicated to the holy name of St. Sebastian, was built by Fr. Alexander Cruz (Palliveetil Parambil Chandy Kathanar – Later Bishop Mar Alexander de Campo), while he was the vicar of Kuravilangad parish (c.1640-1663). It was a Divine coincidence that Fr. Alexander was consecreated as the first indigeus Bishop of Malabar Church in 1663, by Mar Sebastiani, Apostolic Administrator of the whole Serra (1659-1663). Bishop Alexander De Campo (Palliveettil Parmpil Chandy Methran) was delivering all his pastoral duties till his death in 1687 by staying at kuravilangad. He was using the St. Sebastian’s Church as his private chapel and Kuravilangad chapel as Cathedral. People of Kuaravilangad, keep the Cheria Pally even today in pious and esteemed memory of Mar Sebastini, who conscecrated their beloved vicar as bishop and celebrate the feast of St.Sebastian every year.

Kuravilangad occupies a unique place among the parishes of the diocese in terms of families served, quite apart from its venerable antiquity. No fewer than 3000 students undergo faith formation course in seven Sunday Schools within the parish. Financial aid is given to the poor and needy to build as many as thirty houses a year. A marriage aid fund helps girls at the time of their marriage and a Book Binding Centre offers jobs to several people. A first-grade college and four schools, all of them under the patronage of St.Mary’s Forane Church, Provide education to an ever-increasing student population from far and near.