Athisaya Manal Matha Shrine Tuticorin,Tamil Nadu

Introduction

Athisaya Manal Matha Shrine (Our Lady of Red Sands) is in southern Thoothukudi district of Tamil Nadu The shrine is part of the Sokkan Kudierappu Parish in the Diocese of Tuticorin. It is surrounded by expanses of red sands and numerous palm trees. A small lake, locally known as Tharuvai, is situated near the shrine. Originally called Kanakkan Kudieruppu, the village was home to several families in the kingdom of The Pandiyas. Legend has it that, due to injustice in the kingdom, a sandstorm covered the entire village in red sand after a poor widow was unjustly killed by the king. This event is considered a divine punishment. In 1798, a shepherd boy, aided by the people of Sokkan Kudieruppu, discovered the church.

Today, the shrine is one of the sixteen shrines in the Diocese of Tuticorin and is managed by the people of Sokkan Kudieruppu. The shrine is known for its Saturday devotion, attracting visitors from southern Tamil Nadu, as well as parts of Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka. On the first Saturday of every month, a Blessed Holy Meal is served to all, regardless of caste or religion. The shrine celebrates a ten-day feast in September, commencing with the flag-hoisting on Friday, featuring The Feast of the Cross, and concluding with a grand Holy mass on the tenth day of the feast.

In the 1st century AD, Saint Thomas played a pivotal role in spreading Christianity in the state of Kerala, situated on the west coast of India. Through his preaching about Lord Jesus, he successfully attracted the Indian people to Christianity. Saint Thomas also gained renown for healing many individuals afflicted with deadly diseases during this time, and his fame spread throughout Kerala and neighboring Tamil Nadu due to his miraculous acts.

In the same century, the southern tip of India was governed by the Pandya ruler Kandappa Rasa. The king and his family were beset by various ailments. Upon learning of Saint Thomas’ miracles through traders who visited Kerala for spice trade, the king went to Kerala, shared his sufferings, and invited Saint Thomas to Tamil Nadu.

With the blessings of Lord Jesus, Saint Thomas miraculously healed the king and his family, leaving the king astonished. Saint Thomas then preached Christianity to the king and his followers, who subsequently embraced the faith. In recognition of Saint Thomas’ influence, the king was renamed “Sabor.”

As a gesture of respect, the king generously donated 3 cents of land to Saint Thomas for the construction of a church dedicated to Mother Mary. Following the traditions of that era, Saint Thomas constructed the church using palm leaves. This plot of land became the first in India to be donated to Christianity.

In the church built on the donated land, Saint Thomas installed a holy cross made of wood and encouraged the people to pray at the cross. Saint Thomas inscribed the letters INRI on the top portion of the cross. This church, erected on the 3 cents of land given by the king, is known as the “Athisaya Manalmatha Church.”

The church’s architectural style represents a harmonious fusion of both European and Indian influences, creating a perfect blend that mirrors the synthesis of cultures. This amalgamation is visually evident in the intricate details and design elements, seamlessly incorporating the distinct characteristics of European and Indian architectural traditions. The result is a structure that not only reflects a unique and balanced aesthetic but also symbolizes the cultural harmony embodied within its walls.

St. Xavier's visit

In the 16th century, Saint Francis Xavier commenced the propagation of Christianity in India, with a particular emphasis on the southern part of Tamil Nadu. His Holy Bible teachings began in the region, specifically in Manapadu Malai. During this time, Saint Francis Xavier learned about the Manalmatha church in Kanakkan Kudieruppu and discovered that the Christians there were devoted followers of Saint Thomas. This revelation fueled his desire to visit the Athisaya Manalmatha Church.

Annual Feast Day

Feast Date : 5th August

The annual feast day of the Athisaya Manal Matha Shrine is celebrated on 5th August each year.

Church Visiting Hours

  • Monday to Sunday : 6:00 am – 8:00 pm

Contact Info

Thiruppaniputhantharuvai,
Puthantharuvai,
Thoothukudi
628656
Tamil Nadu

Connectivities

Airway

The nearest airport to the Athisaya Manal Matha Shrine is Thoothukudi airport which is 60km away from the shrine.

Railway

The nearest railway station to the Athisaya Manal Matha Shrine is Tiruchendur Railway Station,   which is 30km away from the shrine.

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