Historical St. Lawrence Shrine of Karkala, Karnataka

St. Lawrence church, Karkala, Karnataka  www.thehindu.com
St. Lawrence statue, St. Lawrence church, Karkala, Karnataka
 St. Lawrence Shrine, also known as  Attur Church  is  located in a serene surrounding dominated by greenery at Karkala  town  in Karnataka state,S. India. It being an old  Roman Catholic church - (Portuguese: Sao Lourenco de Carcoal;  English: St. Lawrence of Karkala) - is known for many miracles. Lots of devotees belonging to different religions  come to this church for prayer and blessings. The history of this Attur-Karkala parish goes way back to 1759.  Attur Jatre or Attur Fest (Attur festival) is a famous one.

The main preoccupation of this church is social activities and preaching of brotherhood essential for the various communities to live in peace to achieve success in their lives. The church is running an orphanage and a school. This church is dedicated to St. Lawrence who happened to be Spanish. St. Xystus, then the archdeacon of  Rome, was very much impressed by Lawrence' s dedication to virtuous and righteous  life and initiated him  into learning the holy scriptures  and  the maxims of Christian perfection under his guidance.

St. Lawrence Church,
at Karkala  town  in Karnataka planbox.wordpress.com
When St. Xystus was raised to the pontificate in 257, he ordained Lawrence as deacon and appointed him the first among the seven deacons who served in the Roman Church. Lawrence thus became the Pope's Archdeacon. This was a holy position  of great trust, to which was given responsibility and  care of the treasury and riches of the Church, and the careful  distribution  of  its  revenues  among  the  poor.

The Roman ruler Emperor Valerian and his cronies were  unfriendly, not god-fearing and took the tirade  against the church. They had their eyes glued on the vast riches of the church.  They wanted all the church heads put to death and  Pope St. Xystus II was apprehended. Lawrence fulfilled the wish of  Pope St. Xystus II and distributed the riches of the church, as wished by  Xystus,  among the poor. When the greedy ruler wanted  St. Lawrence to produce the Church's riches, he at last, gathered all the unfortunate people of the society - the blind, the lame, the maimed, the lepers, orphans, widows, derelicts, etc.  and  invited the Prefect to come and  examine  the treasures of the Church and conducted him to the place. He emphasized  that these people were the real treasures and not other treasures (meaning gold, jewellery and precious stones).  The infuriated Prefect, in rage,  put Lawrence to  death through torture.  The  noblemen took up the martyr's body on their shoulders, and gave it an honorable burial in the Verna field, near the road to Tibur, on 10 August 258. Now it  stands over his grave the Basilica of St. Lawrence.

As  ill-luck would have it, the Christians of this place  underwent untold misery and suffering under the ruler  Tipu Sultan of Srirangapatna  from 1784-1799 AD . The Christian captives were taken to Srirangapatna and the church at Attur was already damaged. Tipu Sultan was against the British rulers and   had an unsubstantiated  suspicion that the local Christians were ardent supports of the oppressive British rulers  under the  East India company and would  be a threat to his regime,

St. Lawrence Church,
at Karkala  town  in Karnataka www.panoramio.com
The church was, at last,  rebuilt after the fall of Tipu.- in 1799. Initially the building had a thatched roof in 1801. Later with the help of a Goan priest 4 km from the present location in 1839,  a new building came up.  Soon it became a popular center of pilgrimage  as St. Lawrence blessed the sincere devotees with favors. The present location was accidentally discovered by the Goan priest and his followers when they were in search of a new location. The kept the statue on the ground just to take rest after a long search. After some time when they began their journey. to their astonishment, they could not move the statute from that location. Their efforts having failed, the Goan priest and others realized that a miracle had happened and wanted to have a church built dedicated to St. Lawrence.

In the year 1895 the parish priest, Rev. Fr. Frank Pereira , in order to cope with the  unusual number of devotees visiting the church, specially organized Novenas and  prayer services making them more and more  useful to the visiting devotees. Then in the year 1900 Rev. Fr. Frank built a Church, facing the north. This Church was blessed and inaugurated on 22.01.1901 by the Vicar General, Very Rev. Mgr. Frachett.

Rev. Fr. Frank Pereira's successors too kept up their devotional  church services  and  St. Lawrence of Attur has become popular  for his astonishing power of intercession with God. The patronage of St. Lawrence of Attur has  gone up over the past years.  Without visiting the shrine,  lots of devotees experience  his powerful intercession. That,  lots of pilgrims come to the place throughout the year and specially those during the feast days in the month of January,  is a valid  proof that St. Lawrence does not disappoint those who come to him in faith and devotion.

The Annual Festival popularly known as 'Attur Jatre (Festival)' is both a religious and cultural fete, as people from all faiths make a bee line to the church on this occasion.  The Jatre (festival) that takes place every year during the last Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of January  attract  lakhs of devotees  from many parts of Karnataka and other states.