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