Introduction

The Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica in Fort Kochi is one of the eight Basilicas in India. This heritage edifice of Kerala is also one of the finest and imposing churches in India. Located close to the renowned St. Francis Church, this basilica serves as the cathedral church of the Diocese of Cochin, the second oldest Diocese of India.

The history of Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica dates back to the sixteenth century and begins with the arrival of Portuguese missionaries in 1500 CE. The construction works started when the first Portuguese Viceroy Dom Francisco de Almeida got permission from the Cochin Raja to build a church. The foundation stone was laid on May 3, 1505, the feast day of the ‘Invention of the Holy Cross’, hence the church was named Santa Cruz. Meanwhile the church had undergone some serious demolition and re-erection. The present day structure was consecrated on 19 November 1905. In 1984 Pope John Paul II raised the status of Santa Cruz Cathedral to Basilica for its antiquity, artistic dignity and historical importance.

This amazing construction has two lofty spires that welcomes all even from a distance. The exterior is white-washed and astonishingly bright and the interior is pastel-coloured. The interior of the church has Gothic style architecture with its overwhelming arches and an awe-inspiring altar. The main altar was decorated by the renowned Italian painter Fr Antonio Moscheni and his disciple De Gama of Mangalore. Their contribution is still vivid in the columns that are decorated with frescoes and murals. The seven large canvas paintings including a beautiful reproduction of the ‘Last Supper’ by Leonardo da Vinci are a real feast for the eyes. The ceilings of the church are adorned with paintings that depict scenes from the Via Crucis of Christ. The beautiful stained glass windows are another attraction.

The church, for its inimitable beauty and grandeur, has become a must-see destination in Fort Kochi.

History of Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica

The history of the Basilica starts with the arrival of the second Portuguese fleet under Pedro Alvares Cabral on 24 December 1500 along with Portuguese missionaries. King Trimumpara Raja of Cochin Kingdom welcomed them and that caused the ruler of Kozhikode Kingdom, Zamorin to declare war on Cochin Kingdom as Zamorin and Portuguese had very bad relation in the Malabar region of Kerala.

The war efforts of Zamorin were not paid off well with the arrival of the Portuguese commander Afonso de Albuquerque in 1503. He and the Portuguese army defeated the enemies of the Cochin Kingdom and the king in return gave permission to the Portuguese to build a fort in Cochi.

Subsequently in 1505, Dom Francisco de Almeida the first Portuguese viceroy got permission from King of Cochin to build a church building and the foundation stone of the church was laid on 3 May 1505 on the day of the ‘Feast of the Cross’. Feasts of the Cross commemorate the cross used in the crucifixion of Jesus. While Good Friday is dedicated to the Passion of Christ and the Crucifixion, this day celebrate the cross itself as the instrument of salvation. Since the foundation of the church happened on the day of the Feast of the Cross, the church building when completed was named Santa Cruz, meaning Holy Cross.

Architecture of Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica

The Santa Cruz Cathedral is one of the eight Basilica’s currently functioning in India. The Indo-European and Gothic style makes it outstanding. It has two huge spires and the exteriors look bright. The interiors are pastel colored and the beautiful arches as well as the stained glass windows gives it an exotic look. The key alter has been adorned by the Italian artist Fr Antonio Moscheni and his follower De Gama of Mangalore. The mural paintings and the frescoes make this Cathedral even more beautiful. Among the several paintings that hang here the “Last Supper” by Leonardo da Vinci is the most famous one. Other paintings include the passion of Christ and death on Cross. The ceilings are also decorated with paintings and you can also spot the the Via Crucis of Christ.

In 1505, Dom Francisco de Almeida the first Portuguese Viceroy got permission from the Kochi Raja to build a church edifice using stones and mortar which was unheard of at that time as the local prejudices were against such a structure for any purpose other than a royal palace or a temple. The foundation stone of the Santa Cruz church was laid on 3 May 1505, the feast day of the Invention of the Holy Cross, hence the magnificent edifice when completed was named Santa Cruz. This church was located on the eastern side of the present Children’s Park, Fort Cochin. The basilica hosts the Relic of The Holy Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ for a long time. This is at the Right side of the church.

Santa Cruz Church (1505 - 1558)

The history of Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica begins with the arrival of Portuguese missionaries along with the second Portuguese fleet under Pedro Álvares Cabral on 24 December 1500. The King Unni Goda Varma Tirumulpadu (Trimumpara Raja) of Kingdom of Cochin received them very warmly. This caused the Zamorin of Calicut to declare war against Kingdom of Cochin. But the Portuguese army under Commander Dom Afonso de Albuquerque who reached Cochin in 1503, defeated the enemies of the King of Cochin and in return he gave them permission to build a fort in Kochi.

Raising to Cathedral and Demolition (1558 - 1795)

In 1558, Pope Paul IV, raised the Santa Cruz Church to the status of a Cathedral along with the erection of the second diocese in India – Diocese of Cochin, suffragan (other being Diocese of Malacca) to the Archdiocese of Goa.

The Dutch took control of Cochin in 1668 and they had demolished the Catholic buildings except Santa Cruz as well as St Francis. The Cathedral was used as arm storehouses. But after the British took over Kochi in 1795 the Santa Cruz Cathedral was demolished.

Erection of Santa Cruz Basilica (1886 - present)

About 100 years later, Bishop Joao Gomes Ferreira (1887–1897), a missionary and the Bishop of Cochin, took initiative to re-erect the Cathedral and commenced the plan of its construction. But it was the next Bishop, Mateus de Oliveira Xavier (1897–1908) who completed the edifice. The cathedral was consecrated on 19 November 1905 by Bishop Sebastião José Pereira, Bishop of Damao. Considering its antiquity, artistic dignity and historical importance, Pope John Paul II through a special Decree “Constat Sane Templum Sanctae Cruci” of 23 August 1984, raised the Santa Cruz Cathedral to the status of Basilica.

Inscription Outside the Church

The Dutch who conquered Cochin in 1663, destroyed all Catholic buildings. Only the St. Francis Church and the Cathedral escaped this fate. The Dutch made the cathedral their arms storehouse. Later it fell into the hands of the British who demolished it when they took over Cochin in 1795. One of the decorative granite pillars of the destroyed Cathedral is still kept as a monument at the southeastern corner of the present Basilica premises.

Inscription at the Bottom of the Tower

The church has two lofty spires and a remarkably bright, white-washed exterior and a pastel-colored interior. The interiors of the church are mostly Gothic, with the main altar decorated by the famous Italian painter Fra Antonio Moscheni, S.J., and his disciple De Gama of Mangalore. Unfortunately, Fra Antonio Moscheni died here on 15 November 1905, four days before the newly built Church was consecrated. The columns decorated with frescoes and murals, the seven large canvas paintings on the passion and death on the Cross, especially the painting of the Last Supper, modelled on the famous painting of Leonardo da Vinci and the beautiful stained glass windows add to the artistic grandeur of the place. The paintings that adorn the ceiling depict scenes from the Via Crucis of Christ.

The Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica at Fort Kochi is one of the eight Basilicas in India. This magnificent This Roman Catholic Church is a must-see destination for tourists who come to Kochi. The Santa Cruz Cathedral not only happens to be one of the oldest churches in Cochin, but also in the whole of India. Counted as one of the heritage edifices of Kerala, this church is visited by tourists the whole year round.  It is situated close to St. Francis. The church fest of mother Mary is widely celebrated by the diocese. The Dutch way of alter design is another feature. The Church has two lofty spires and a remarkably bright, white-washed exterior and a pastel-colored interior. The interiors of the church are mostly Gothic, with the main altar decorated by the famous Italian painters. The Portuguese built Basilica’s 500th anniversary was very recently. With gracious and admiring interiors, Gothic facade with soaring and dazzling spires the Basilica is a charming prayer home. the interiors are decorated with colorful Indo-Romano style of decoration.The Dutch catch of Kochi in 24 December 1500 AD resulted in booming of warehouses in places of worships. The irresistible beauty garnered by stained glass and the imposing Caryatids over the confessional boxes might have persuaded the Dutch to spare it. Founded soon after the arrival of the first Portuguese visitors to India.

Feast Day - 3rd May

The foundation stone of the Santa Cruz church was laid on 3 May 1505, the annual feast day of the ‘Invention of the Holy Cross’, hence the magnificent edifice when completed was named Santa Cruz. Meanwhile, this church had undergone some serious demolition and re-erection. The present-day structure was consecrated on 19 November 1905. In 1984 Pope John Paul II raised the status of Santa Cruz Cathedral to Basilica for its antiquity, artistic dignity and historical importance.

Mass Time

Mass Timings in Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica

  • Weekdays – 6.00 a.m, 7.00 a.m, 6.00 p.m.

  • Sundays – 5.30 a.m, 6.45 a.m, 8.00 a.m, 9.15 a.m, 4.30 p.m.( English).

  • Titular Feast: Holy Cross- November 14th

Other Feasts

  • Our Lady of Most Holy Rosary -1st Sunday of October

  • Our Lady of Fatima – December 31st

  • Novena to Our Mother of Perpetual Help on Saturdays at 5.45 p.m.

Contact Info

Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica
Bastian Street, Fort Nagar, 
Fort Kochi,
Kochi, 
Kerala 682001, India

Phone No.

Connectivity

Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica, Kochi, Kerala is well connected with Bus Station, Railway Station and Airport facilities rest of the country.

Airways

Kochi International Marina Airport, Kerala which is (45 Kms) from Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica, Kochi.

Railways

The nearest railway station is Ernakulam Railway Station which is just nearby 12 Km from Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica, Kochi.

Roadways

The nearest is Tuticorin, Old Bus Station which is very nearby (0.5 Kms) from Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica, Kochi.

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