St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Catholic Church
Malayattoor Church is dedicated to St. Thomas and is situated atop the 609 m high Malayattoor Hill. It is one of the most important Christian pilgrimage centres in Kerala.
St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, Malayattoor is one of the most prominent Christian pilgrim centers in the Ernakulam district of Kerala. The church is located on top of the Malayattoor Hill, at a height of 609m for which it is popular as "Malayattoor Church". One of the most important Christian pilgrim centers in Kerala, this holy shrine attracts devotees in very large numbers not only from Kerala but also from the neighbouring states. The church is dedicated to St. Thomas who took initiative to begin Christian community in Kerala. It is believed that St. Thomas held prayer at this church when he landed in Kerala. This shrine has now been accorded an international pilgrimage station.
History of St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Catholic Church
Sailing in an Arab merchant vessel, St. Thomas is believed to have landed at Kodungallur port in Kerala, in 52 AD. A hostile reception was given and his life was in danger. He was forced to flee to the top of the mountain and had spent days in the abode of God. In deep anguish and agony St. Thomas prayed to the Lord and upon touching the rock, blood sprang forth from it. In 52 AD he reached Malayattoor and selected the place for prayer and worship. His zeal for the Lord took him to Mylapore and later died a martyr’s death there in 72 AD.
Later, while on hunting the local people found a divine light emanating from the hard rock and upon examining the source they found a golden cross. They later discovered the footprints of the great saint and when this extra ordinary piece of news reached the plains, people began to flock the hills of Malayattoor.
Structure of St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Catholic Church
The church has a combination of Greco-Roman architecture with the altar designed in traditional Greek style, and the front portion of the church following the traditional Roman Catholic Church architecture. Behind the central altar, one can find the carvings, designs and paintings, which include the 5 joyful mysteries of Jesus Christ. The church has separate facilities for confession and adoration. The church also has an ancient pond that was used for baptism purposes and a traditional pulpit that is considered to be of much historical significance.
Festivals at St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Catholic Church
The big and auspicious occasion is the feast of St. Thomas, which is observed on the first Sunday after Easter, when thousands throng the shrine for his blessings. Thousands of pilgrims gather here for the annual festival of ‘Malayatoor Perunnal’, held during the months of March or April.
Places to Visit at St. Thomas Mount
Besides the main shrine, visitors to Malayattoor can also find interesting sites in and around the hill top, namely
Marthoma Mandapam: A very elegant and attractive building with a blend of Greco-Indian architecture. It is here that the precious relics of St. Thomas are preserved. Located at the peak of the mount, the building is erected in such a way that the relic is placed 20 steps above the ground, symbolically representing the 20 years of St Thomas’s missionary works in south India.
Sannidhi: The Sannidhi is the most spacious place for worship on the mount. Here, the main attraction is the Piyatha sculpture moulded at the top of the chapel.
Golden Cross: Kurishumudi is where one can find the Golden Cross believed to have formed when St. Thomas knelt on a rock and signed a cross with his finger. He remained there praying for a long time, and ultimately a golden cross appeared on the spot.
Footprints of St Thomas: One of the most curious sights at the mountain is the permanent footprint and the marks of knees of St. Thomas imprinted on the rock.
Ancient Chapel: An ancient chapel at Kurishumudi which was attacked by tuskers in the past, when it used to be surrounded by thick jungle. Deep tusk marks can still be found on the back wall of the chapel.
The miraculous water spring: A well, situated near the ancient chapel at the top of the mount is believed to be the spot from where St. Thomas quenched his thirst during his time of prayer. Feeling thirsty, he struck the rock from which fresh water started flowing. Pilgrims consider the water in the well to possess divine power to heal ailments.
How to Reach St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Catholic Church
Malayattoor Church is easily reachable from anywhere in Kerala and Cochin as the place is well connected by a wide network of roads. The nearest railway station is Angamaly which is about 17 km away and the nearest airport is the Cochin International Airport, about 15 km from the church.