St. Andrew’s Basilica, Arthunkal is a Roman Catholic church located in the village of Arthunkal in the Alappuzha district of the southern Indian state of Kerala. The church is one of the most important and influential Catholic churches in Kerala and is a popular destination for both tourists and devotees who come to seek the blessings of St. Sebastian, the patron saint of the church.
The history of St. Andrew’s Basilica dates back to the 16th century, when it was founded by Portuguese missionaries who arrived in Kerala in the 15th century. The church was originally built as a small chapel and was later expanded into a full-fledged basilica. The church is named after St. Andrew, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus, and is dedicated to the veneration of St. Sebastian, the patron saint of the church.
St. Sebastian is a popular saint in the Catholic tradition and is revered as the patron saint of soldiers, athletes, and those suffering from plague and other diseases. According to legend, St. Sebastian was a Christian martyr who was martyred for his faith during the Roman Empire. He is known for his bravery and faith in the face of persecution and is considered a symbol of hope and strength for Christians around the world.
The church is known for its beautiful architecture and stunning surroundings, and it is a popular destination for tourists who want to experience the rich culture and traditions of Kerala. The church is located in the heart of the village of Arthunkal, which is surrounded by lush green forests and fields. The peaceful and serene atmosphere of the church is said to be conducive to spiritual growth and helps visitors to connect with the divine.
St. Andrew’s Basilica is an important center for the worship of St. Sebastian in the Catholic tradition. The church is home to a number of shrines and statues of the saint, and devotees come from far and wide to offer their prayers and offerings to the deity. The church is also known for its annual St. Sebastian’s feast, which is held in honor of the patron saint. The feast is a grand celebration that lasts for several days and is attended by thousands of devotees from all over the country. The feast is marked by a number of rituals and ceremonies, including the offering of special prayers and offerings to St. Sebastian, and the performance of traditional music and dance.
In addition to being a place of worship, St. Andrew’s Basilica is also an important cultural and historical landmark in Kerala. The church is an important part of the cultural and religious heritage of the region and is a popular destination for tourists who want to learn about the history and traditions of Kerala. The church is also home to a number of important historical artifacts and documents, including ancient manuscripts and documents related to the history of the Catholic Church in Kerala.
In conclusion, St. Andrew’s Basilica, Arthunkal is a beautiful and important Roman Catholic church located in the village of Arthunkal in Kerala. The church is a popular destination for tourists and devotees who come to seek the blessings of St. Sebastian, the patron saint of the church, and to experience the rich culture and traditions of Kerala. The church is an important center for the worship of St. Sebastian and is also an important cultural and historical landmark in the region.
In the 16th century, Arthunkal was the capital of the Muthedathi kingdom, one of the most important districts of Kerala. Historians disagree about how Arthunka got its name.
One of them is that it evolved from the then name of the place “Arthikulangara”. Arthikulangara over time became Arthikulangal and later Arthunkal.
St. Andrew’s Basilica, Arthunkal, According to historian George Schurhammer, the capital of Muthedath was known as “Muthedathunkal” (Muthedathis) and was changed to “Edathunkal” and then Arthunkal. Portuguese missionaries landed in Kerala after the arrival of Vasco da Gamma. They visited Muthedathi and found so many St. Thomas Christians here. They were not baptized, but their ancestors were. Jesuit missionaries started their missions in Muthedath and Elayedath (a neighboring principality). In 1579 AD Manuel Texeira, a Jesuit priest from Goa, visited Arthunkal on his way from Kochi to Kollam (Quilon). At the request of the Christians, he arranged the appointment of Fr Gasper Pius to Arthunkal for their spiritual service in 1581.
From 1560 AD, Christians and missionaries asked Muthedath King for permission to speak, although the king begged. don’t pay much attention. But after the constant persecution of Christians and considering the king’s help from missionaries, in November 1581 he gave permission to build a church out of wood and coconut leaves. He also donated some trees from his site for this purpose.
Christians installed a wooden cross and built a church with the cooperation of local Hindus, the construction of which was authorized by the king. On November 30, the church was consecrated in the name of apostle Andrew. The first vicar was Fr Gasper Pius S.J. After completion, King Muthedath came to visit the church and asked the vicar to properly maintain the church as the house of God. Since then, many Hindus from neighboring regions came to the church, prayed to St. Andrew and performed their prayers.
In November 1582 P. Gasper Pius died from excessive work, hot climate and malnutrition. Another Jesuit priest took over the church but remained in Kochi. On November 30, 1583, Andrew’s feast day, 500 Thomas Christians were baptized. Later they were known as “Anjootikkaris” (five hundred people). Nair-knigt together with 20 of his soldiers converted to Christianity on the same day in the presence of Muthedath king. In 158
AD, Fr Jacomo Fenicio S.J. was appointed Vicar of Arthunkal. He started building a new stone and lime church with the permission of the king and finished it in 7 years. When Fr Fenicio was transferred to Kozhikode, eight priests took over in succession. Fr Fenicio was appointed again in 1619 and the following year he rebuilt the church. The people and the rulers loved him very much and considered him a holy man.
People called him a saint and “Veluthachan” which means white father. Veluthachan later became the popular name of Saint Sebastian. Fr Fenicio said that he performed many miracles during his life. Even Hindus believed in the power of their prayers and approached him for blessings. He was known as the Second Apostle of the East and died in 1632. A huge crowd, including kings, came to pay their last respects to him. His body was buried in the church, where it was customary to pray and light candles. The tomb is still preserved near the altar of the old church.
Fr Fonsaco, who took over after Fenico, rebuilt the church in 160 with its elevation facing the west. During his time, the miraculous statue of San Sebastian arrived from Milan. In the fall of the 18th century, the church came under the control of Carmelite missionaries. In their service, or rather on November 29, 1829, the Rt Rev. St. Chavara Kuriakos Elias. Dr. Staballini, then Bishop of Verapoly, who lived in Arthunkal Church.
Fr Gasper Bylon of Mariatoris in Kaithavallapp was appointed vicar in the second half of the 19th century as the first local priest to lead the Arthunkal Church. During the office of Fr Vincent Das Navis vicar in 1910, the foundation stone of the current new church was laid.
Fr Sebastian Presentation who was considered a holy priest, Mrs. Silvarius Jackson who later became the first Vicar General of Alappuzha Diocese and Mrs. Daniel Kurisunkal who completed the construction of the present church. This was followed by Daniel Kurisunka, Mrs. Peter Karumancherry, Mrs. Andrew P. Thekkeveedu, priest Fr. Dr. Dominic Koilparambil, Rev. Fr. Fr Paul Arackal and Reverend Marian Jose Pereira.
Fr. Stephen J Punnacka is rector of the basilica, vicar abroad and parish priest. Cyrus Thomas Kattungalthyil and Fr. Michael George Print. Fr. George Bibalan Arattukulam is the priest of St. George Bibalan Arattukulam. Church of Rita.