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St. Thomas Church, Malayattoor, Kerala, India

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St. Thomas, the Patron Saint of India is believed to have landed in Kerala at Kodungallur (Cranganore) in AD 52 although historians have never corroborated it. Even, Pope Benedict XVI made a statement at the Vatican on September 27, 2006, that St Thomas first evangelised Syria and Persia, and went on to western India from where Christianity reached Southern India. This implies that St. Thomas had reached as far as Current day Pakistan and never travelled to South India as the Kerala Christians propagate. Oral tradition says that while travelling through Malayattor, faced with hostile natives, he fled to the hilltop where he is said to have remained in prayer and that he left his foot prints on one of the rocks. According to beliefs, during prayer, he touched a rock, upon which blood poured from it. The chief festival is on the first Sunday after Easter. It is traditionally believed that St. Thomas used to make the Sign of the Cross on the rock, kiss it and pray at Kurisumudi. The story has it that a miraculous golden cross appeared at that particular spot. Pilgrims going up the hill to call out incessantly “Ponnum Kurishu Muthappo, Ponmala Kayattom”, meaning “O Patriarch of the Golden Cross! Climb we shall, this golden hill!” This Shrine was promoted to Archdiocesan status by Archbishop Mar Varkey Vithayathil on 4 September 1998. There is also a very ancient Church in the name of St Thomas (Estd. 900) at Malayattoor on the bank of Periyar River near Kalady which serves as the parish Church at present. The annual festival of this church is known as ‘Malayatoor Perunal’ and it is celebrated in the months of March–April.

Malayattoor Kurisumudy is an international pilgrim centre of St. Thomas the Apostle. Kurisumudy is a mountain at Maiayattoor, 1269 ‘Ft. above sea level. Pilgrims come to Malayattoor Kurisumudy all through the year but they come in large numbers during the Lenten season, especially the holy week – largest numbers come on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. The main feast is on Puthunjayar (new Sunday) the feast of the proclamation of Jesus as Lord and God by St. Thomas the Apostle. Malayattoor pilgrimage (Climbing Kurisumudy) is done as a vow in reparation of sins. A lot of devotees come to the shrine carrying crosses and walking hundreds of Kilometres. Some of the crosses weight more than 75 kilogrammes. Pilgrims climb the mountain praying the Way of the Cross and chanting. When the pilgrims climb the mountain they chant “Ponnin Kurisu Mala Muthappo Ponmalakayattam”. “Muthappan” is the name by which the devotes invoke St. Thomas on the mountain. Some pilgrims carry stones on their heads and place them near the Fourteenth station, for the relief of their chronic headaches. Women, sometimes, carry brooms, praying for the abundance of physical and spiritual well being.

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