Manarcad Marth Maryam Cathedral, a 16th century church in Kerala!

Manarcad Marth Maryam
Manarcad Marth Maryam Cathedral (St. Mary's Jacobite Syrian Cathedral),  a Jacobite Syrian Christian Church is just 9 km from the town of Kottayam in Kerala, and is a popular destination for people  who go on an annual pilgrimage  seeking the blessings of Virgin Mary. There are more than 4000 families in this parish and it is one of the largest Christian parishes in Kerala.

The Church, one of the oldest in Malankara and founded by Padathu Mappila, is caught between two groups - the Orthodox Syrian Churches and Jacobite churches over the authority of the church. 

In the late 16th century, in order to fulfil the desire of the Christian community to build a church in the present place for prayer and worship, the local preacher Padathu Mappila and the faithfuls intensely prayed to Virgin Mary.  The preacher soon had a dream  in which he saw  a cow and a calf together in  a particular spot - a wooded area. They soon located the cow and a calf in a remote place.  That spot was chosen for the proposed church. Padathu Mappila wanted to  approach  the ruler of this place as  the land belonged to the Hindu temple board  and the local Hindu chieftain might object to it. The ruler  Thekkumkur king happened to be secular and was sympathetic toward the Christian community.

Padathu Mappila  requested the ruler of this place. and  the king allotted the land  in favor of Christian community after long deliberations and the site was  marked out for the church around the spot where the cow and calf were found. 

Edathil Thampuran, the local Hindu Chieftain, who was unfriendly to the christian community there,  objected to it and thrice pulled down the church, each time it was rebuilt . The  chieftain was furious against the ruler for not getting his approval for the proposed church in his area. Purposely, he gave trouble to the ruler and the people who wanted to build the Church.  The king had to depend on his army of trained men in case of war; it was a delicate position for the jest king.  Padathu Mappila, at the fag end of his patience,  was about to give up on his church project and the odds were against the church. Besides,  his financial situation was not in a favorable position.  At last, help came from  Kallakkadampil family  with their financial assistance and the Manarcad Church was finally completed after passing through several impediments.

The construction was finally completed between 1585 and 1590 AD. Not willing  to depend on others to complete the work, Padathu Mappila voluntarily decided to  give up his control on  the church. The parish  compensated him  financially besides granting him  even special rights in the  church in view of his sacrifices and hardship faced by him in establishing the church. The successive generations of his family continued to enjoy these rights until the church came to have its own constitution in 1958. The only right the family today is entitled to is  to stand close to the offertory box at the church as its symbolic custodian on festival days. The present church  came into being in  1954. The church front is close to that of Orvieto Cathedral and  remains in faith with the Holy See of Antioch.

The church, in the past, drew the attention of the media and it became a big scoop for them. Their sensational reports in the news paper  created curiosity among the public  and they made a beeline to this church. What was the fuzz all about?  The wooden cross  on the church premises was oozing  scented oil after fasting and the feast. Devotees  came n large number to the church at late  night to witness the divine incident.

The church becomes very active and crowded in the month of September because of feast and fasting.