History of the St. Lawrence Shrine
Under the rule of Tipu Sultan Christians of Karkala were captivated. The period from 1784 to 1799 brought immense suffering to them. Tipu Sultan demolished the parish church and took the Christians to Shrirangapatna as captives. After being resurrected as free spirits in the year 1801, these Christians had built a church with thatched roof in the place of the old parish church. The construction of this church was supervised by a Goan priest. This effort was initiated on their way to Nakre. In the year 1839 this church was replaced by another building which was about 4 kilometers away from the previous one. This new building was standing at the back of the present church and was facing west. It was again replaced by a small flower garden and is about 7 kilometres away from the present church.
Owing to the fact that the church became too old, ardent devotees of Saint Lawrence, under the leadership of the Goan priest, launched a quest for a suitable site to build the Church in the honour of Saint Lawrence. Along with them they carried a one-foot wooden statue of Saint Lawrence. In their journey they prayed to him to usher them in the choice of a suitable place. They crossed the Rama-Samudra of Karkala and after coming down the woods of 'Parpare hills' they reached Attur. They came across a spring flowing at the bottom of the hill. This fervent and tedious quest had made them tired and thirsty. They placed the statue of the Saint on the ground and quenched their thirst. On the resumption of their journey they experienced something extraordinary. To their surprise, the statue became immovable like a tree. It was as if that the structure became firmly fixed to the ground. Then the priest decided to build the church there. No sooner did he make the decision than the statue could be easily detached from the ground. In the year 1839 the church was erected. This place soon became a pilgrimage.
Revamp of the St. Lawrence Shrine
In the year 1895, many devotees of Saint Lawrence flocked to the newly erected church in Karkala. The parish priest, Father Frank Pereira, witnessing this and claiming to have received innumerable favors from the Saint, consolidated their devotion further by organizing novenas and prayer services. In the year 1900, Father Frank Pereira had the present church built facing the north. This church was blessed and inaugurated on 22nd January 1901 by the Vicar General, named Frachetti.
In the year 1975, Father Fredrick P S Moniz had built the little shrine of Saint Lawrence that is adjacent to the sacristy wherein the miraculous statue is preserved. In the year 1997, a 100 feet high tower representing religious art of various regions was built with the objective to spread the message that the church values equality and accepts people of different faith and beliefs. The renovation of the Miracle-Pond, also called the Pushkarini, was undertaken in the year 1998. It was rebuilt in modern Indian architectural style with the facility for pilgrims to descend into the pond. In 1999, the twin gates were built in front of the church, in line with the tower. A new church building as a memorial of the bicentenary was blessed on the 21st of January 2001 by the Bishop of Mangalore.
Saint of the St. Lawrence Shrine
Saint Lawrence is believed to be a Spaniard. He was born in the 3rd century and was an immensely virtuous man. Saint Xystus, the then archdeacon of Rome, admired him for this quality. Under the tutelage of Saint Xystus, Lawrence studied the holy scriptures and the maxims of Christian perfection.
Saint Xystus was raised to the pontificate in 257. He established Lawrence by law as a deacon. He was the first among the seven deacons who served in the Roman Church. He was given the responsibility to take care of the treasury of the Church and the distribution of its revenues among the poor.
In 257, Emperor Valerian published his authoritative proclamations against the Church, with the intention to demolish it. Consequently, he commanded all bishops, priests, and deacons to be put to death without delay. The following year, in compliance to his orders, Pope Saint Xystus II was arrested. When Lawrence stopped him from attaining martyrdom, he too ardently desired to die for Christ. Saint Xystus II ordered Lawrence to distribute immediately among the poor, the treasures of the Church. As instructed, he distributed all the money to the poor widows and orphans. He even sold the sacred vessels to increase the revenues.
When the prefect of Rome gained knowledge about the riches of the Church, he concluded that the Christians had hidden treasures. Subsequently, Lawrence was ordered to present all the treasures to him. The prefect granted him three days to complete the said task. He eventually embarked on a journey to search every poor supported by the Church. On the third day, the rows of the church were occupied by the decrepit, the blind, the lame, the maimed, the lepers, the orphans, the widows and the virgins. They were, according to Lawrence, the treasures of the Church. He invited the prefect to come and see the treasures. At the sight of the said treasures, the prefect was agitated and threatened Lawrence against such action and asked him to show him the treasures according to his promise. Lawrence explained to him that they were the real riches of the Church, but the prefect refused to believe him. In fact, he was so infuriated that he ordered Lawrence to be put to death. The indifference towards the torture inflicted on Lawrence moved several senators, who were present at his death, to such an extent that they immediately turned Christians. They took up the martyr's body on their shoulders and gave it an honorable burial in the Veran field, near the road to Tibur, on 10th of August 258. The Basilica of Saint Lawrence presently stands on his grave.
Faith in the St. Lawrence Shrine
It is believed that the church has power to intercede with God, therefore, devotees of this church are widespread throughout the world. The number of pilgrims to the shrine throughout the year and especially those during the feast days in the month of January is the proof that St. Lawrence does not disappoint those who come to him with faith and devotion. What is evident in the church is that it warmly welcomes people of different cast and creed. Discrimination in this church therefore does not exist. Any person can offer his prayer to Saint Lawrence. Universal peace and brotherhood is thus promoted by this church.
Demographics of the St. Lawrence Shrine
The parish has near about 382 families with a population of about 1708 members. Around 9 wards are present in this parish.
Churches in India
Churches of Karnataka
Churches of South India
Holy Trinity Church
Catholic Churches in India
Protestant Churches in India
St. Philomena’s Church
St. Lawrence Shrine or Attur Church
(Last Updated on : 16-05-2016)
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