Thursday, 14 December 2017

St. Peter's Church (1829). a historical monument in Royapuram, Chennai

St Peter’s Church (1829),Royapuram en.wikipedia.org
St. Peter's Church is one of the oldest and historical churches in Royapuram area of Chennai, Tamil Nadu and  was built to cater to the religious needs of the small  Indian enterprising community living there who were followers of Roman Catholic sect. Originally they were Hindus, later became christian converts. The old chapel was built by a group of boatmen, assisting  the East India Company that was running a trade post at Ft. St. George. The present Church was constructed with a portion of the Government’s grant and it was erected as a Parish in 1829 by the Bishop of Mylapore.  Records point out that  Gurukula Vamsha Varnakula Mudaliars were instrumental in establishing the church there by making major contribution towards construction. The work on the church began in 1825 and completed in 1829. Part of the contribution came from the Secretary of Marine Board. The Archdiocese of Mylapore appointed the Rev. Fr. Antonis Martin D'Silva as the Church's first priest of this old church.

St.Peter's church (1829)Royapuram, Chennai  thepicta.com

In the early years, the chapel (built in 1780), under the control of  Vicar Apostolic, had daily services as well as hourly prayer. Later, it was divided into two churches namely St. Peters and St. Antony's Church, following the division among the  Vamsha Varnakula Mudaliars - the former supporting the Irish mission and the latter, following the Goan tradition. The church has been a prominent  landmark in the suburb  of Royapuram. The name Royapuram is derived from the Tamil appellation for St. Peter Royappar  and Puram meaning area / place. In 1779 the Royapuram area comprising 720 grounds was allotted by the Marine Board under the English company on order from  Lord Edward Clive to the Indian community - mostly fishermen moved from Chapauk to Royapuram. The marine board shifted the Customs House and Master Attendant's Office to Black Town from Fort St. George in 1799. Consequent to  removal of Customs House and Master Attendant's Office to Black Town, the marine Board granted the lands to the fishing community for residential purpose.

St.Peter's Royapuram

Gurukula Vamsha Varnakula Mudaliars, who were quite enterprising community took care of the British naval and cargo ships docking at Madras and their services were quite indispensable for the British company.There was no proper harbor here in those days.

Royapuram, chennai map. Maps-india.com
Built in Gothic architecture, the church has a prayer halls for the devotees. The altar houses conventional Catholic images. Quite impressive features in this church are the  plaques of St. Peter, St. Anthony, Jesus Christ, Chindadri Matha showcased  in glass chambers. They are set in standing posture on the walls facing the devotees, while the image of Child Jesus is located in an open chamber around the sanctum.

Originally, St. Peters Church was  under the dominions of the Cathedral and later it came under the  Petiti Seminaire School Fathers till 1860. In the early days the priests in the church were  only French and natives were not allowed, but during modern times, Tamil people were also allowed to conduct prayer, masses, etc. Presently, the Church is  being administered by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Madras and Mylapore.[

During the Christmas time the festival of the temple is celebrated  for eight long days, beginning with flag hoisting on 24 December and ending with a feast and religious lectures on 2 January. The famous feasts offered in the temple are : the feast of St. Peter on the 29th June and the second for Our Lady of Voyage called Chitirai Matha from 29 August to 8 September. The highlight of the event is a car procession with the Church deities around the streets of Royapuram, an offshoot of Hindu temple tradition.

 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Peter%27s_Church,_Royapuram


"Royapuram: Wheel of time takes the sea away". Chennai: The Hindu. 29 July 2014. Retrieved 21 November 2015.