The Centuries Old Spiritual Abode
St. Andrews Forane Church Arthunkal, the largest shrine of St Sebastian in the world – commonly known as Arthunkal Church is a famous pilgrim centre in Alappuzha district of Kerala
At a time when minute disputes get blown out of proportion creating communal conflicts, certain monuments around us testify to ancient days when tolerance and a spirit of accommodation was very much in evidence.
One such spiritual abode is the centuries old St. Andrews Forane Church Arthunkal, Just beyond the humble coastal hamlets in Arthunkal of Alappuzha district. From November to January, the church sees hordes of Lord Ayyappa devotees take off their customary string of rudraksha beads-a practice that ends their holy quest. They bathe in the church’s tank and are also offered meals here. Interestingly, the custom dates back to centuries and originates from the belief that the church’s second priest, Fr Jacomo Fenicio, was the friend of Lord Ayyappa.
The present church is a mighty granite structure built in traditional style. However, it was first made of wood, with thatched palm leaves forming the roof. As per church records, the Portuguese missionaries who landed here in the 16th century sought the help of the local ruler, Muthedathu Raja, to construct a place of worship, after appointing a parish priest for the many followers of Christianity here. Help flew in from all sections of society regardless of religion to build the church, according to folklore.
Fr. Jacomo Fenicio, who was called Arthunkal Veluthachan or ‘the fair priest of Arthunkal’ is the one behind the current granite structure. He was believed to have many magical and healing powers and also brought a statue of St Sebastian, made in Milan, to be placed in church. Fr Fenicio was buried inside the church and his tomb is still here. The church was raised to a Basilica, the seventh in Kerala, in 2010. Offering sublime spiritual faith, it stands as a reminder to the times when true universal brotherhood practiced.
Ancient St: Sebastian Church is located at Arthunkal, Allapuzha district. The church premise is the venue where Arthunkal Perunnal is held. It is a 10 day festival, which commences on 20th January of every year. The Arthunkal Perunnal is the annual feast of the patron Saint Sebastian.
Devotees crawl on their knees all the way from the nearby beach to the church is a peculiar and highly regarded ritual on the final day of the Perunnal. Afterwards there will be a ceremonial procession to the beach.
How To Reach St. Andrews Forane Church Arthunkal
The St Andrew’s Basilica is located 7 km from Cherthala and 22 km north of Alappuzha, in Kerala, a southern state of India. The St Andrew’s Basilica is situated at Arthunkal in the Cherthala Taluk of Alapuzha District. The nearest Railway station is Cherthala. The nearest Airport CIAL at Nedumbassery is 70 km away.
St. Andrews Forane Church Arthunkal Contact Details
St Andrew’s Basilica, Arthunkal, Cherthala – 688530, Alappuzha, Kerala
Phone : 09400152374, 0478 2573560, 09446607613 (Rector)
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Daily Mass : 5.30 am, 7 am, 4.30 pm
Sunday : 5.30 am, 7 am, 9 am, 5pm
Baptisms : 2nd and 4th Sundays at after 9.30 am mass
St. Sebastain Novena : Thursday 11 am, 4.30 pm