Kerala , a small state near the southern tip of India has several unique qualities.The state
was always in forefront for education and literacy. Kerala earned 100% literacy several years back.The
people are very social,broadminded and mingles with others easily and hence works in almost
all parts of the world.Communal riots, religious clashes etc are very rare in this state and the people lives in religious harmony helping each other.The first Christian Church in India was
established in Kerala and the first Muslim Mosque in India was also established in Kerala.
Hindus participates in Christian and Muslim ceremonies and festivals and they also co-operate
but Christians and Muslims take part in their celebrations and enter up to the place where
they are permitted to and also provide offerings and contributions.Hindus also participates in
celebrations of other religions and do all possible help.Hindus worship in
several Churches and Mosques where they have faith and one of the most sacred churches in
Kerala where millions of devotees approach in full devotion and with faith where several Hindus also visit is 'Arthunkal
ST.Andrews Forane Church which is situated at Arthunkal in Cherthala near Alapuzha.
Arthunkal St.Andrews Forane Church has been elevated to Basilica on July 9,
2010.It is the first Basilica of Alleppey diocese and the seventh Basilica in Kerala.The upgrade
to Basilica is an important milestone in the history of Arthunkal Church.It was the first Parish
in Alleppey diocese.
The church was originally built by Portuguese missionaries in the 16th century.The church was rebuilt in 1584 under the then vicar Fr.Jacoma Fenicio whom the devotees claimed possessed magical powers to heal body and mind ailments.Devotees fondly referred him as 'Arthunkal Veluthachan'.He died in the year 1632.Eight years after his death the church was rebuilt again.
In 1647 the statue of St.Sebastian struck with arrows all over his bleeding body(he was executed for embracing Christian Faith) sculptured in Milan was brought and placed in Arthunkal church.The statue of St.Sebastian was brought for a Church in Madras City
but the ship carrying it stopped at 'BaikkalPort' and it was consecrated at Arthunkal Church.
Many people believes that prayers through his intervention helps devotees to heal their
ailments of mind and body.Several handicapped people got cured by his blessings.
The feast of St.Sebastian attracts large number of devotees from India and all parts of the world.It is celebrated in January every year for eleven days.The last day 'Octave' is on
January 20 and a minor feast is held on the eighth day known as ' Ettam Perunnal'. This feast also has earned fame as the Principal feast.On these days procession to the beach attracts
large number of devotees.
On the 27 January midnight the Statue of St.Sebastian will be placed back in the locker.Another small statue will be placed there for another 40 days.This marks end of
Sabarimala devotees coming back from Sabarimala temple visits Arthunkal Church, takes bath
in the tank attached to the church or in the sea and do worship in the Church and make offerings.Many people have the belief that Sabarimala Ayyappan and St.Sebastian are brothers.
The Sabarimala pilgrims going from Erumeli enters "Vavar Muslim Mosque" and do prayers
and Offerings and then only proceed to Sabarimala.Devotees coming along Arthunkal Christian Church enters there and do prayers and offerings.We can not see such a religious
In the annual feast of the church lakhs of people participates.Those who have received favors from the Saint Participates in the procession back from the beach on their knees
known as 'Nirangu Nercha' .Many devotees mainly on January 26 performs 'Urul Nercha' by
rolling on the ground from beach chapel to the church which is more than one kilometer holding
bow and arrow in their hands.
Devotees offer Gold and silver replica of body parts,bow and arrow,rice,pepper,salt and cash.
Several materials like blessed oil,blessed 'Payasam', CD's ,Books,Candles,Pendents, etc are
available at the Church stall.
Details regarding Prayers,Novena,other types of offerings,Booking of Holy Mass etc can
be known from the Church Office.
The Church can be reached by Bus,Car and Train.The nearest railway Station is Cherthala(6km).Alapuzha town which is the district headquarters is only 22 km.
Nedumbassery Int'l Airport (Cochin) is only 80 km from Arthunkal Church.