Tamil Nadu is one of those places, which saw the emergence of Christian religion in India. It is believed that St Thomas, the apostle of Jesus Christ came to Madras (now Chennai) around 52 AD. He was killed in the year 78 AD and a church was later built on the San Thome beach. Later on, with the coming of the Europeans in India, Christianity spread not only to Tamil Nadu but also to other parts. As the Christians settled in Tamil Nadu their place of worship (Churches) also started dotting the religious landscape of the state. Have a look at some important Churches of Tamilnadu.
Churches Of Tamil Nadu
San Thome Cathedral Basilica :
San Thome derives its name from St Thomas, the apostle of Christ who came to Madras around 52 AD and was killed by some fanatic on St Thomas Mount in 78 AD and was interned on the San Thome beach. Many years later, another church was built and his mortal remains were transferred from the old church to the new one. Again in the year 1606, the church was rebuilt as a cathedral and it was made a basilica in 1896. The Basilica has many beautiful stained glass windows that portray the story of St Thomas whereas the central hall has 14 wooden plaques high- lighting the last days of Jesus Christ. Another interesting thing in the cathedral is a 3ft. High statue of Virgin Mary, believed to have been brought from Portugal in 1543.
St. Mary’s Church :
of Chennai is the oldest Anglican Church in India, which was built in 1680. The tombstones in the courtyard of the St Mary’s church are the oldest British tombstones in India. It is interesting to note that the marriages of Robert Clive and Elihu Yale were solemnized here.
The CSI Holy Cross Church: is more than 120 years old and was originally called the Perambur Railway Church, as it was under the Railway authorities earlier. The congregation at the Church consisted predominantly of Anglo-Indians of the city though there are families from other states now.
Poondi Madha Shrine :
is a highly revered shrine, situated at Poondi, about 35 km away from Thanjavur, in Tamil Nadu. It is regarded as one of the Roman Catholic Pilgrim centre similar to Velankanni. The church, built by the Italian Jesuit missionary – Veeramamunivar, is dedicated to Mother Mary. This imposing structure is a combination of Gothic and French architecture. The remarkable feature is the row of statues of the 12 disciples of Jesus Christ, saints such as Francis Xavier and also one of Veeramamunivar (Constantine Joseph Beschi) on the facade, above the portico.
Christ the King Church: being designed and built by the Indian mason was brought into concept by the French Clergymen. This beautiful church displays gothic architecture. Pointed arches, ribbed vaults, rose windows, three-aisled nave and flying buttresses; make the presence of this holy church really majestic.
The St.Joseph’s church at Ponmalai, with its gigantic spires, has an impressive and majestic appearance, situated opposite to the historic armory gate of Ponmalai workshop.The founder and main architect of the church was the late Rt. Rev. Msgr. Joseph alphonse de Rozario. On march 30, 1930, the church was dedicated to him. The Anglo-indian community, workers of railway workshop and the Indian families gave a part of their wages and also collected funds to build the church.
The St. George’s Cathedral :
is a magnificent piece of architecture and was built in the year 1815. The highlight of St. George’s Cathedral is the graveyard just adjacent to it. The guardrail of the Cathedral is made up of war emblems- muskets, bayonets etc that were captured from Srirangapatnam in 1799.
Vadugarpettai Church : is at a distance of 40 km on the Tiruchirapalli-Ariyalur main road. This ancient church was built under different phases during the last 300 years.
A portion of the church was constructed in 1674 and Rev Fr Vincent Puwart SJ was the first Parish priest of the church. The main part of the church was built by Veeramamunivar (Rev Fr Joseph Constantine Beschi) when he was the Parish priest from 1717 to 1720. The annual festival of the church is the car festival. Another celebration is Askar Festival that takes place before Easter. This church has come to be known as ‘the Velankanni of Tiruchirappalli’ as it attracts thousands of people of all faiths and it is dedicated to Our Lady of Good Health (Arokia Matha.)