Thursday, 25 December 2014

Historical St.George Forane Church (594 AD), Edapally Kerala

St.George Forane Church / Edappally church planbox.wordpress.com

 George  Forane Church, one of the oldest churches in India  is  believed to have been built in 594 AD on a land  donated by the Hindu Raja of Edapplly Palli. The church was  dedicated to Virgin Mary called Marth Mariam in local parlance  in the beginning and  later  came to be known by Saint George’s name once he was declared as the patron saint of England. 

Newly built St. George Forane church, Edapally,Kerala India  Church,www.federalbank.in
Today all that is left is its altar, which stands in the second church which was built around 1080AD. Now, the second church serves as a museum. Locally known by the name of Edappally Mar Geevarghese Sahada Palli  or simply Edappally Palli, it is one of the first Roman Catholic churches in the state of Kerala. Located at Edapally about 10 km from the city of Kochi, this 6th century church has beautiful artistic features like  a statue of St. George on horseback, stabbing the dreadful head of a  monstrous serpent under the hooves of his horse. It is symbolic of the faith and courage of George who subdued the devil. He,  according to an Italian legend, rescued a  graceful damsel who was supposed to be his daily share of food for the monster.  To the people here, St. George is a symbol of strength and succor.  There are exquisite paintings on the altar walls, depicting Virgin Mary and heavenly angels. 

There is a water well adjacent to the church that is believed to have miraculous powers. Devotees drink the water, wash their head, face and sometimes, take the bottled water home. Likewise they collect a lump of soil from the church yard and take it home and put it in their garden, etc. They strongly believe in the power of George that will protect them from snake bites, etc., ailment and even spells. Here he is an embodiment of courage, strength and succor.

Every year  a grand nine-day festival is celebrated in April and May with devotion and is attended by lots of people from Kerala and other neighboring states. The festival begins on the 23rd of April with a solemn High Mass and Litany.  On 4th May, the idol of the deity is taken out in a grand procession. A unique custom is, as part of offerings,  the  devout pilgrims throw Puri and Beetle leaves  on the procession idol.  It is a major pilgrim center for non-Christians as well  and the popular  offerings at the church are chicken and eggs.

The  history of this St. George Syro-Malabar Forane Church goes as far back as14 centuries. In the by-gone time, Edappally,  a part of the princely kingdom of Elangalloor was  a small  village. The Syrian Christian community here whose forefathers became Christians when  St. Thomas the Apostle (alias Dideemos)  visited this region in 52 AD. So, it was the followers of St. Thomas who took the initiative and had built the earliest church  This Church was built about 300 years after the martyrdom of St. George, who was a soldier. Later he became a follower of Christ and strictly followed the scriptures. He attained martyrdom when he stood against  the religious persecution under Emperor Diocletus. After his death, scores of churches came up across Europe and other places in his name. 


In 1080 AD, a new church was built adjacent to the old church with a view to accommodating  the growing  Christian community at Edapally.  More than 30 years ago some renovation was done in the front portion of the church, but the facade of the  present church is restored to original style. Presently,  there is a new church that was consecrated in April 2015, though the foundation stone was laid on January 01 2001.  The new church, built in Kerala-European style,  is one of the largest churches in India and its main chapel can
Church well, St. George Forane church, Edapally,Kerala, en.wikipedia.org
accommodate 5000 worshipers at a time. In 1994, as part of 14th centenary  celebrations, this church was graced by Mother Theresa of Kolkata.


It is  not only the oldest Syrian Catholic Church in the state and  but also one of the most - frequented churches in the city by people from different faith.
Interior, the newly-built St. George Church at Edapally, Kochi, shevlin's world
https://planbox.wordpress.com/2012/07/13/st-george-forane-church-edappally-kochi-kerala-india/  
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._George_Syro-Malabar_Catholic_Forane_Church,_Edappally