St. Andrews Forane Church Arthunkal

The Centuries Old Spiritual Abode

St. Andrews Forane Church Arthunkal, also known as Arthunkal Church, is a famous Christian pilgrimage center located in Arthunkal, a coastal village in the Alappuzha district of Kerala, India. The church is dedicated to Saint Andrew, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ. It is considered one of the oldest churches in Kerala and holds great historical and religious significance.

The history of Arthunkal Church dates back to the 16th century when Portuguese missionaries arrived in the region. They built a small chapel at the site, and later in the 18th century, a larger church was constructed. The current structure of the church, built in a blend of Portuguese and Kerala architectural styles, was completed in the 19th century.

Arthunkal Church is renowned for the annual feast of St. Sebastian, which takes place from January 10th to January 27th each year. The feast attracts thousands of devotees from different parts of Kerala and even from other states in India. During this period, the church premises are beautifully decorated, and various religious ceremonies and processions are conducted.

The highlight of the feast is the ceremonial procession carrying the statue of St. Sebastian, which is taken to the nearby beach. Devotees walk alongside the statue, singing hymns and offering prayers. The event is marked by a grand display of fireworks and cultural performances.

The church also houses the famous “Ostrich Egg,” which is believed to possess miraculous powers. It is said that the egg was brought from Rome and is believed to be around 450 years old. Devotees visit the church to seek blessings and offer prayers before this relic.

Apart from its religious significance, Arthunkal Church is known for its beautiful architecture, with intricate carvings, stained glass windows, and a peaceful ambiance. The church complex includes a museum that displays historical artifacts, ancient manuscripts, and religious artifacts.

Visitors to Arthunkal Church can explore the serene surroundings, enjoy the coastal views, and experience the spiritual atmosphere. The church welcomes people of all faiths and is a symbol of religious harmony in the region.

St. Andrews Forane Church Arthunkal, the largest shrine of St Sebastian in the world – commonly known as Arthunkal Church is a famous pilgrim center 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 were 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 the 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 the 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 was practiced.

Arthungal Perunnal

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 the 20th of 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. Afterward, 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

The Rector,
St Andrew’s Basilica, Arthunkal, Cherthala – 688530, Alappuzha, Kerala
Phone : 09400152374, 0478 2573560, 09446607613 (Rector)
Email : arthunkalbasilica2010@gmail.com

Mass Timings

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. Sebastian Novena : Thursday 11 am, 4.30 pm

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