Sacred Heart Shrine, Idaikattur, Sivagangai, Tamil Nadu, India

Introduction

The Sacred Heart Church is an ancient church built in Gothic architectural style situated at Idaikattur, in Sivagangai District of Tamilnadu. It is about 36 km from Madurai and in close proximity to the National Highway leading to Rameshwaram from Madurai. This unique church of the sacred heart of Jesus was built in 1894 AD by a French missionary Fr. Ferdinand Celle SJ.  This is a replica of the Rheims Cathedral in France. Since the church was said to be built by angels, Fr. Ferdinand Celle SJ has placed 153 depictions of angels in and around the church. He has depicted the relics of forty saints in four elliptical shaped wooden bowls, which rest over the wooden heart in the main altar portion.  Roman Catholic churches in Tamil Nadu.

History of Sacred Heart Shrine, Idaikattur

The history of this church is as rich and captivating as its architecture. It was built by Mary Anne, a French Anglican lady who, after suffering from a serious ailment that doctors couldn’t cure, prayed for nine days to the Sacred Heart of Jesus on the advice of three Roman Catholic ladies. Miraculously, her prayers were answered, and she was cured of her illness. To thank God, she donated 2,000 Francs to construct the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Idaikattur. The church was Fr. Ferdinand Celle SJ’s vision; he had hoped to build a larger church to accommodate 1000 people but lacked the funds and local support. Mary Anne met Fr. Ferdinand during his trip to France to collect money, and at her request, the church was built in the same style as the Rheims Cathedral.

Idaikattur Church is not only a place of religious significance but also a place of stunning beauty. Visitors are treated to an experience that transcends time and space, a harmonious blend of history, art, and spirituality. Whether you’re a devotee or simply an admirer of architectural wonder, the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is a must-visit destination on your tour to Madurai or Sivagangai. Bask in the glory of this magnificent cathedral, and be forever enchanted by its beauty and grace. In 1866, a thatched shed was constructed, which functioned as St. James church for Idaikattur parish. Fr. Ferdinandus Celle, SJ, the parish priest travelled to France in 1886 to gather funds for the construction of a church building. An Anglican woman named Mary Anne who was suffering from an acute heart ailment received a miraculous cure after praying a Catholic novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Mary Anne donated 2000 francs to Fr. Celle for the construction, with the request that the new church would be dedicated to the Sacred Heart Church and that it would be a replica of the Rheims Cathedral.

Idaikattur Church, nestled in the charming village of Idaikattur is a breathtaking example of architectural splendour. This magnificent cathedral, a replica of the renowned Rheims Cathedral in France, stands as a testament to the dedication of the French missionary, Fr. Ferdinand Celle SJ, who brought this vision to life in 1894.

Architecture of Sacred Heart Shrine, Idaikattur

Stepping inside the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, visitors are transported to a world of elegance and grace. The walls, adorned with over 200 unique tiles and moulded bricks, create a tapestry of colour and texture. The interior of the church is a symphony of beauty, with gothic arches decorated with enchanting terracotta work depicting garlands, flowers, beads, and more. The windows, too, are a feast for the eyes, ornamented with small brick pillars connected by hollow flower work, which serves the practical purpose of reducing the impact of the hot weather.

The true gem of this church is the main altar. Its 45-foot gothic facade showcases the Christian doctrine of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, with God holding his son, Jesus, by the hand and the Holy Spirit surrounded by angels. The altar is a masterpiece of stucco work, featuring figures of saints, angels, St. Joseph, and the Mother of Sorrows, all meticulously crafted and a true tribute to French artistry. 153 depictions of angels can be found throughout the church, adding to the celestial ambience.

The church is in the Gothic style with a vaulted roof supported by columns with cantilever beams. These columns are connected to a circular terracotta ring which is shaped into rows of garlands, flowers, beads, etc. It was constructed by local masons who used a model of the Rheims Cathedral as a reference. In commemoration of the dream of the commission head, Fr. Celle placed statues and paintings of 153 angels in and around the church walls. The tomb of Fr. Ferdinandus Celle stands on the right side of the altar. Hollow bricks were used in the construction of the church, which helps keep the interior cool.

Antiquity Maintained

The villagers convened a meeting and discussed the problem. They too were convinced of God’s presence in the place. Finally they passed a resolution unanimously to donate a space of 25 X 150 feet which is beyond the church limit. Then the Priest completed the work successfully. In fact, all the beautiful statues that adorn Idaikattur Church have been imported from France. Fr. Ferdinand Celle SJ has placed 153 depictions of angels in and around the church. The statues in the church are brought from France and it dates back to 110 years ago.

Rheims Cathedral in France

During the church construction, a portion of the church on the northern side was unintentionally built on a piece of land belonging to the temple. Fr. Celle offered to purchase the land, but the villagers refused. A commission was dispatched from Madras to Idaikattur to adjudicate the matter. On the night before leaving Madras, the head of the commission had a dream in which he saw angels building a church. On reaching Idaikattur, he was surprised to see that the church was the same one that he had seen in his dream. The head of the commission told the villagers about the dream. The villagers not only relinquished the piece of land, but even donated more land for the construction of the church.

Feast Day

Feast Day: July 3rd

The feast day of the Idaikattur Church in Sivagangai is celebrated on July 3rd every year.

Mass Timing

All Saturdays 6.00 A.M
All Sundays 8.30 A.M, 11 A.M

Contact Info

Sacred Heart Jesus Shrine,
Idaikaattur,
Sivagangai-630602,
Tamilnadu,
India.

Phone No.

Accommodations

Booking.com

Connectivities

Airway

Madurai Airport to Idaikattur Church Distance 46 min (47.0 km) via NH87

Railway

Sivaganga Railway Station to Idaikattur Church Distance 34 min (24.8 km) via NH36

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