Christianity began as an oriental religion in Kerala in the first century AD. It is believed that Christ's apostle St. Thomas arrived in Cranganore in 52 AD and established Churches at seven places in Kerala - (Kodungallore, Palayur, Paravur, Kokkamangalam, Niranam, Chayal, Korakkeni, Kollam) and a chappal (half church -"Arappalli") at Thiruvankottu. Since then, the Christian religion has flourished all over the land, co-existing with other religions. Presently, Kerala houses 11 of the 23 dioceses in India.
The Churches of Kerala can be mainly categorized as Catholic and Non-Catholic Churches. Several Churches of Kerala are dedicated to St. Thomas. Some of the other patron saints include St. Paul, St. Peter, St. George, St. Andrews, St. Joseph, St. Augustine, St. Sebastian, St. Dominic, St. Michael and St. John among others. A number of churches are also dedicated to Mother Mary.
Major Churches of Kerala
St. Mary's Church, Cheriapalli (2 km from Kottayam town): Built in 1579, this church features an architectural style that is an outstanding blend of Kerala and Portuguese styles.
Thazhathangadi Valiapalli (2 km to the west of Kottayam town): Built in 1550 AD, this church has a Persian cross, which is known to be one of the seven, brought to India by St. Thomas.
St. Mary's Church, Manarcad (8 km from Kottayam Town): This is one of the most famous Jacobite Syrian Churches in India. Devotees from all over the world gather here to participate in the 8-day fasting which is the main annual event here.
St. George's Church, Puthupalli: Built by the Thekkumkoor Rajas, this church is famous for its golden cross. The church observes the feast of St. George as its annual event.
St. Thomas Mount: Standing at a height of 1200 ft. above sea level, this is a well-known church that offers a picturesque view of its surroundings.
St. Mary's Church, Kuravilangad: This church was built in 355 AD and it contains an old bell with an un-deciphered inscription on it.
St. Mary's Church, Athirampuzha: Built in 1080 AD and later renovated in 1874, this famous church holds its annual event with great pomp and joy in honor of St. Sebastian.
St. Mary's Church, Kudamaloor: This 800-year old church was built by Chempakasseri Maharajah.
St. Joseph's Monastery, Mannanam (Near Medical College): Built by the blessed Father Chavara Kuriakose Elias, this church has till-date preserved the mortal remains of the holy saint.
Kaduthuruthi Valiapalli (on MC Road between Ettumanoor and Vaikom): It was built in 500 AD, and the church-entrance bears a massive cross sculpted out of a single stone.
St. Thomas Church, Pala: Built in 1002 AD, this church was later in the 18th century.
St. Thomas Church, Cherpungal: One of the churches believed to be established by St. Thomas, this church is a major religious destination of Kerala.
Aruvithira Church (11 km from Kottayam): One of the seven churches believed to have been established by St. Thomas, this church celebrates its annual feast in April, and the event features a huge congregation of devotees.
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