Malayattoor Church, Kerala - established by St.Thomas (52 AD)

Malayatoor church near Kochi

Malayatoor church. near Kochi, Kerala.

Christianity came to India long before the arrival of Europeans. It was in the southern state of Kerala St. Thomas, one of the important disciples of Christ established the earliest churches as far back as 52 AD, in particular, coastal areas.

The Malayatoor Church is on the picturesque  Kurisumundy hill - at an altitude of 1269 ft on the Western Ghat mountains at Maiayattoor in Kerala and is a  popular place of veneration for the  Catholic Christians because of its association with  the visit of St. Thomas, one of the Apostles of Jesus Christ.  Saint Thomas came to India to spread the Gospel of love and reached Kodungalloor, Kerala in the year AD 52. During his stay in India for 20 years he traveled many parts  across India to carry out his missionary work. It was here in Kerala he established seven  and a half churches  - Chayal, Kodungalailoor, Kollam, Palayoor, Niranam, Kokkamangalam and Kottakavu. Among them, the Malayattoor Church and the Tiruvamcode Church in the Kanyakumari district of Tamilnadu are considered to be  half church.

Situated 47 km from Kochi, the Malayatoor church, catering to the catholic community,  enjoys a rich past and beautiful surroundings with the river Periyar flowing near-by. It is an ideal place for those who seek Lord's blessings, peace of mind and spiritual ecstasy. When St.Thomas  settled here,then a famous seaport, the historians point out, there were many Jewish merchant families residing around this area and apparently they were the first converts.

Malayatoor church near Kochi, Kerala.
In the year 62 AD  he  made another trip to Malayattoor. The Natives, following a strong local tradition and deep rooted religious belief, were reluctant to accep St. Thomas' preachings. His language, dress, racial differences baffled them. Disappointed and not not feeling safe, he visited nearby Kurisumudy Hill where he drew the Cross on the rock. It is believed, Virgin Mary appeared before him and  gave her blessings to the Saint and told him that he would be successful in his mission. Then he came down from the hill to Malayattoor  to evagalize the inhabitants.
Malayattoor Church, on the hill top. Church.
Centuries  later the hill tribes  living in that area accidentally saw well preserved foot prints,  something glittering in the place where a Cross was drawn by St. Thomas and some blood stains. The Christians living in that area came to know about it through the tribes. Till 600 AD  people had no idea whatsoever about this place  and St. Thomas' visit here. The then small local Christian community took interest and lit the lamp reverentially for the first time in front of the cross. Later  the popularity of this place grew and people started coming here in large numbers. The present church was then built in the year 900 AD. The church has been renovated several times in the past. For the purpose of Baptism, there is an 'ancient' pond within the Church's precinct.
After Easter, on the first Sunday, the devotees of St. Thomas organize feast  in memory of the great  saint. Lots of people attend this feast. Devotees  on the  Kurisumudy Hill kneel before the cross and pray earnestly. Close to the cross, there are  footprints of Saint Thomas.  The foundation of the current church was blessed by Pope John Paul II in the year 1986 during his visit here. The church construction was completed in  the year 2012. The annual festival of this church is known as 'Malayatoor Perunal' and it is celebrated in the months of March-April every year.

The Church is built in Greeco-Roman architectural style. So are the  interior designs, paintings, the altar, etc., On display inside the church  are the Famous Five Mysteries of Jesus Christ’s joyful life.

Devotees make all kinds of offerings here  - such as carrying the cross on the shoulder, stones on their head, women folks carry big brooms for prosperity and health. Like Hindus,  tonsuring the head is also followed by a large number of  people.

The near-by Kochi is well connected by roads, railways and air.