|daikattur, Sacred Heart Church Alamy|
|Sacred Heart Church, Idaikattur,Tamil Nadu,Indiawww.thehindu.com|
As already mentioned in some of my early posts on India's ancient churches, Christianity came to India with the arrival St. Thomas, the Apostle in the 2nd century AD itself on the Malabar coast of Kerala. Tamil Nadu state being its neighboring state, during the same period, a few churches were established in what is now known as Kanyakumari District at the tip of the southern end of peninsular India.
During the British East India company rule and later directly under the British Crown, several impressive churches were built and many Hindu rulers granted the missionaries lands and other help. The Sacred Heart Church in Idaikattur village of Tamil Nadu is a historical and beautiful church.
The sacred heart shrine at Idaikattur Village (elevation from MSL is 2290 feet), a quiet village in Sivaganga District is a unique one with a tall edifice of huge towers is the exact replica of the Rheims cathedral in France. In 1866 St. James Church was built in a thatched shed - a humble beginning and in the same year Idaikattur Parish was established. Falling short of funds to have a church built there, Fr. Ferdinand Celle SJ went to France in search of donations to fulfill his ambitious project. An English lady by the name of Mary Anne, who was miraculously cured of her acute heart problem after praying to Christ at the Sacred Heart Church came to know about Fr. Ferdinand Celle's mission to have a church built at Idaikattur, a remote place in South India. She was generous enough to give him funds for his mission on condition that the proposed Church would be just a replica of the Rheims Cathedral in France. Back at Idaikattur, because of encroachment into the local temple land, the Church work was delayed for about six long years , tied up in a court case. At last a three man commission was appointed by the government to solve the issue in dispute.One night the chief of the commission had a dream in which he saw hundreds of angels constructing a building. To his astonishment, following day he saw the same church there which he saw in his dream.Literally he was dumb-founded and when the villagers came to know about the work of angels, they immediately offered more lands for the church.
|Sacred Heart Church, Idaikattur,Tamil Nadu,India www.flickr.com|
|Sacred Heart Church, Idaikattur.Tamil Nadu,India. www.thehindu.com|
|Sacred Heart Shrine, Idaikattur,Tamil Naduwww.hikeezee.com|
The fascinating feature of this church is inside the Church it is not warm and is quite pleasant, considering the fact the southern belt of Tamil Nadu is very hot during summer season. The extensive use of hollow bricks for the construction does the trick of reducing the heat and the hollow spaces between roofs with small openings help condition the air below the shelter of the wall. The presence of decorated windows with hollow flower bricks and the stained glass works enhance the beauty and appearance of of this historical church.
|Idaikattur, Sacred Heart Church Musings from Antique Origins - blogger|
These are some fascinating facts:
01. There 200 types of bricks went into construction of the church.
02. Fr. Ferdinand Celle SJ, has put in place as many as 153 angels in depiction of that many angels that were purported to have built the church.
03. Depiction of of forty saints in four elliptical shaped wooden bowls, that rest over the wooden heart in the main altar section. So, the prayer is through these heavenly bodies.
04. The main alter section is characteristic of a gigantic Gothic facade of 45 feet high with wonderful stucco work, depicting the doctrine of Christianity
05. Rows of beads, garlands and flowers adorn the impressive Gothic arches inside the church and this adds more beauty to the already artistically decorated church with long spires outside.
06. The special hollow bricks were used by the designer to cut down the radiation inside the church during masses particularly in the hot summer season.
A visitor to this church will never return home disappointed because not only does he get the blessings of the numerous angels, but also the satisfaction that he has visited a historical church that was built centuries ago specifically to handle summer heat - at a time when oil lamps and bullock carts were widely used.
01. This village is equally well known for a Hindu saint (Siddhar) by the name of Idaikattur, who had special mystical powers and people of many faiths used to approach him for help and cure of their ailments.
02.This village is about 30 miles SE from the temple city Madurai. It is near the Madurai to Rameswaram National Highway.