|St. Sebastian's Church, Arthankal, Kerala www.keralatourism.org|
The famous St. Sebastian's feast at St Andrew's Basilica is celebrated on a grand scale from 10 to 27 January every year with great fanfare, reverence and devotion and people across the state actively participate in the feast. The attraction here is the colorful procession of the saint in a well decorated palanquin from the church to the near-by beach and back to the church and is well attended by the ardent devotees. On the 18th early morning before the Saint's procession, the Church gates are open and like wise on 27 January midnight the church doors are closed and the St. Sebastian's statue is safely kept in the safe locker in the room near Vicar's office on the Church premises. A small statue of the saint is placed there for 40 days for the benefit of devotees. This marks the end of the Arthunkal Perunnal. According to Church record in 2009, more than 1.5 lakh persons performed the bow and arrow 'nercha'- this part of prayer. This tradition has been in practice for a pretty long time. Believe it or not more than 200,000 people visit this holy place for prayer and blessings from the saint. 20th January is the final day of the feast and the church authorities conduct mini feast called 'Ettam perunnal' on the 8th day after the main feast.
|St. Sebastian's Church, Arthunkal, Kerala en.wikipedia.org|
|St. Sebastian's Church. Arthunkal.bizhat.com|
Initially this place of veneration was a chapel in 1569 with thatched roof made of coconut palm leaves, named after St. Thomas. In 1581 Italian Fr. Gasper Pious S.J. “Ishosabha” monk was instrumental in constructing a church here after getting necessary permission from the local Hindu ruler. The Hindus who lived in large numbers made valuable contribution by way of offering cash for the building the church. Even before the feast day of St. Andrews (November 30) the church building was completed with wood and palm leaves. It was first church at Arthunkal and was named after St. Andrew’s. The Portuguese missionaries established "Santharthre mission" and forced the Marthomite Christians to accept the Latin rite.
It was Fr. Jaicomo Fenicio, an Italian preacher became the parish priest in the year 1584. He founded the real architect of the Christian society at Arthunkal. Fr. Jaicomo Fenicio got permission from the king to build the new church using stones to protect the church from battles and robbers. It was successfully completed it in 7 years. After Fr Fenicio was transferred to Kozhikode in 1579, eight priests took charge in succession. In the year 1647 the statue of St. Sebastian was brought from Milan,Italy and placed here. In 18th Century, the church was taken charge by Carmelite missionaries from Jesuit missionaries.