Famous Churches in Tamil Nadu
Famous Churches in Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu best known as the ‘land of temples’ is also a pilgrim centre for other religions as well. People from all over India visit Tamil Nadu for religious purposes; even though the land is immensely populated with temples there are a lot of churches, gurudwaras, mosques and monasteries in and around the country visited by devotees and worshippers.The construction and architecture of these monuments are beyond explanation, holds rich heritage, tells tales and is worth a visit once in a lifetime. Based on some legends, Tamil Nadu has experienced a vast influx of Christianity since the British colonisation era. There are also facts on St. Thomas presence in Tamil Nadu during AD 52, apart from that invasion of Europeans led to the progressive growth of Christianity and similar worship places in the country.
- Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health – Located in the small town of Velankanni in Nagapattinam district along the shores of Bay of Bengal, this basilica church in Tamil Nadu is a major pilgrim centre for many Christians. This Roman Catholic Basilica church worships Our Lady of Good Health and has also recorded three miracles; apparition of Mary and Jesus to a sleeping shepherd boy, curing a buttermilk vendor and the survival of Portuguese sailors tormented by a violent sea storm. These three miracles finally led to the construction of the shrine to Our Lady. The basilica celebrates the feast of Mother Mary on September 8 where worshippers from all over the place gather together to evoke blessings. The shrine also known as the “Lourdes of the East” is a prominent pilgrim centre visited by Christians in India.
- San Thome Cathedral Basilica – Built in the 16th century by the Portuguese in Santhome, Chennai; San Thome Cathedral was dedicated to St. Thomas, an apostle of Jesus who came to Chennai in 52 AD and was martyred on St. Thomas Mount in 78 AD. The church was built over his tomb and later rebuilt by the British in Neo- Gothic style as a cathedral in 1893. The church was raised to the status of a Basilica Minor and then declared a national shrine by the Catholic Bishops Conference of India. Now a major pilgrim centre, people from all over visit the famous Cathedral in Tamil Nadu to see the tomb of St. Thomas which contains a small hand bone of St. Thomas and the head of the lance, church museum, glass window paining depicting the story of St. Thomas, the 3 ft high statue of Virgin Mary believed to have brought from Portugal in 15th century, marian grotto, the church interior, architecture and more.
- Mary’s Church – One of the oldest Anglican church and the oldest British building in India, St. Mary’s church is located at Fort St. George and fondly called as the ‘Westminister Abbey of the East’. The church began construction in 1678, took two years to complete and was consecrated on 28th October, 1680 with the firing of small arms and cannon. The church consists of a 12 feet nave, two aisles, gallery, two curved staircases and a bomb proof roof structure a unique feature which is four feet thick. Prominent governors like Sir Thomas Munro and Sir Henry George Ward are buried here and important marriages like that of Robert Clive and Elihu Yale were also held here. The tombstones of the church are one of the oldest British tombstones in India.
- The Armenian Church – This is one of the famous churches in Tamil Nadu constructed in 1712 and one of the oldest churches in India called as the ‘Armenian Church of Virgin Mary’. Located on Armenian street, Chennai the church is famous for its tower of six bells, all varying in sizes from 21 to 26 inches and weighing 150 kilos each and believed to be the largest and heaviest bells in Chennai. The bells were cast at different times and contain Armenian and Tamil inscriptions also the dates and the names of the contributors. A prominent heritage site in Chennai, the church is maintained by the Armenian Church Committee in Calcutta and about 350 Armenians are buried in its grave.
- George’s Cathedral –Built in 1815, this cathedral is remarkable for its neoclassical style of architecture like the tall spire measuring 45m, pillars, marble statues, mural tablets and memorials. The church also adorns stained glass windows on either side of the alter depicting the baptism of Jesus and the resurrected Lord with Mary Magdalene. Memorials of British soldiers, educationists, police officers, engineers, religious leaders etc. The cathedral has eight bells varying in different sizes and manufactured in London. The lectern, pipe organ, Anglican style furniture, Episcopal chair & Bishop’s chair, the altar and the church façade are all worth a visit for Christians all over India.
- Thomas Mount National Shrine– St. Thomas Mount is built at the place where St.Thomas was martyred. The shrine built over the tomb stands 300 feet tall from sea level offering a spectacular view of the city. This is among one of the famous churches in Tamil Nadu adorned with oil paintings, and is spotlessly clean spreading peace and divinity. Christian devotees from all over India and tourists from all over the world visit this holy pilgrim. It is believed that the paintings of ‘The Holy Lady and The Child’ and ‘Our Lady of Expectations’ displayed in St. Thomas church is believed to have been painted by St. Thomas himself.