|Luz church(1516). Chennai, India. en.wikipedia. org|
|Holy Mary, Madras Luz church, Chennai,www.madrasi.info|
Because of the arrival of Christianity in India several centuries ago and on account of a large number of European settlers living here in the 16th and 17 centuries, numerous churches with fine European architecture were built in many places in India to meet their religious needs. They are the now mute spectators of our colonial past history.
Luz Church - Church of Our Lady of Light is a historical Roman Catholic shrine in Mylapore, Chennai, India. Commonly called Luz Church by the locals, it was built in the midst of a forest in 1516 by the Portuguese who dedicated the church to Nossa Senhora da Luz. In Portuguese Luz means light. The famous Stella Maris College, Chennai is being managed by the church. Behind this church is located the well-known St.Isabel's Hospital. It is a rare coincidence that this unique European monument built in Gothic-Baroque style, which marks the safe arrival on land by the Portuguese missionaries, is near the famous San Thome Basilica, where Apostle Thomas is believed to have been buried. The main attractions are the ceiling with fresco painting and altars gilded with silver and gold leaves.
|Alters -Luz Church.Chennai, India www.panoramio.com|
Legend has it when Christianity arrived in India during the second phase (first being the arrival of St. Thomas in 52 AD on the Malabar coast) in the wake of Vasco de Gama's landing on the Malabar coast in 1498, several Jesuits from Lisbon arrived here in 1500 to spread Christianity. A few were killed and the others became preachers. Once when sailed down south off coast, they were caught in the rough sea. They were miraculously saved by the grace of Mother Mary. It is believed, that they sighted a mysterious, divine bright light that guided them safely to the shore. The Jesuits, built the Church of Our Lady of Light (Portuguese: Nossa Senhora da Luz) in honor of their safe arrival on the land from the rough sea. The date of this legend has been a subject of controversy because it was only in 1540 the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) was founded. So, many argue that the year of arrival of Jesuits in India 40 years before in 1500 is incorrect.
It is quite interesting to note that during the Muslim invasions - forces from Golconda between 1662 and 1673 and Hyder Ali between 1780 and 1782, the church received considerable damages because East India company forces occupied the Luz Parish Residence for some years. Later major repair work was carried out in order to put the church back to its original grandeur and beauty.