Monday, 17 November 2014

St. Francis Church Kochi - Gravestone of Vasco da Gama


Portugal, Lisbon: Tomb of Vasco da Gama inside of the monastery church Santa Maria . www.alamy.com
Original grave of Vasco da Gama.en.wikipedia.org/
St.Francis Church, Kochi Gama burried here. credit:detination2india.com
St. Francis (Church of South India) Church, in Fort Kochi (aka. Fort Cochin), originally built in 1503, is the oldest European church in India and has great historical significance. 

Portugal Lisbon Belém Mosteiro dos Jeronimos monastery church interior tomb of Vasco da Gama · .www.alamy.com
St. Francis church History. credit: thinkingpaticle.com
St. Francis Church,one of the old European Churchs  built in India. Burial site of Vasco da Gama. 1503 to 1663 under the Portuguese, 1664 to 1804 under the Dutch, 1804 to 1947 under the British, 1947 onwards under the authority and control of the Church of South India.
St. Francis Church, Kochi credit:flicker.com
This old church was a silent witness to several important events involving cutthroat competitions and struggles in mercantile trade among the European countries to control over the Indian subcontinent and to establish their hegemony during the colonial period.  The Portuguese explorer, Vasco da Gama, who was the first European to find an alternate sea route to India May, 1498 and who first landed near Calicut (now Kozhicode) on the Malabar coast of western India  died in Kochi in 1524 when he was on his third visit to India. His body was originally buried in this church, but after fourteen years, for unknown reasons  his remains were removed to Lisbon, the capital of  Portugal for reverential burial there. When other European powers took control over Malabar and other areas, Portuguese churches gradually fell into ruins, as they paid least attention to their maintenance.
St. Francis Church, Kochiwww.no18.co.in
Pedro Álvares Cabral and Afonso de Albuquerque,  who later visited Kochi after De Gama, built a fort  here with permission from the Raja of Cochin. Within the fort prescient, they built a church with a wooden structure, which was dedicated to St. Bartholomew. The neighborhood is now known as Fort Kochi. It was in 1506,  the Raja of Cochin  allowed  Francisco de Almeida, the Portuguese viceroy, to rebuild  wooden buildings in stone and masonry with a tiled roof 
Portugal, Lisbon: Tomb of Vasco da Gama inside of the monastery church Santa Maria . www.alamy.com
and  in 1516,  the new  church was dedicated  to  St. Anthony.  When the Dutch in 1663 captured this area, being protestants, they demolished all the Portuguese churches except this one. When the British took the reign in 1794, they, however allowed the Dutch to retain it. In 1804 it changed hands to Anglican Communion.  Under the Ecclesiastical Department of the Government of India the Anglican Communion changed the name of the patron saint to St. Francis .

The gravestones of other Portuguese and the Dutch are on the southern wall. A cenotaph in memory of the residents of Kochi who died in the World War I was erected in 1920.

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