St. Stephen's Church, Kombuthurai

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St. Stephen's Church
8°34′50″N 78°07′58″E / 8.580629°N 78.132802°E / 8.580629; 78.132802Coordinates: 8°34′50″N 78°07′58″E / 8.580629°N 78.132802°E / 8.580629; 78.132802
Location kombuthurai, Thoothukudi, Tamil Nadu
Country India
Denomination Roman Catholic
History
Founded 15th century
Founder(s) St.Francis Xavier
Dedication Saint Stephen
Dedicated 1542
Consecrated 1544
Architecture
Status shrine
Functional status Active
Administration
Diocese tuticorin
District tuticorin

St. Stephen's Church is a Roman Catholic church dedicated to Saint Stephen, located in the village of Kombuthurai in the Thoothukudi district of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The church was built by St. Francis Xavier in May 1544.[1] It was abandoned by the Jesuits until 1983. The church was taken care of by a people called the "katesar/kadaiyar pattamkattiyars", according to the wished of St. Francis Xavier, who believed that they could take care of the work of Christianity in Thoothukudi as written in his letters.

Miracles in Kombuthurai (Kadayakudi)[edit]

The first miracle in Kombuthurai which is also the first miracle of st.Francis Xavier in pearl fishery coast occurred in 1542, when St. Francis Xavier first visited the village. A pattangatti lady was suffering from labour for nearly three days. He bapatised her and her family and within a short time, she delivered a child. Due to this miracle, the whole of this village along with its headmen and prince of the land got converted into Christianity. Since then he visited the village numerous times[1] The second miracle is believed to be the greatest miracle that Francis Xavier ever performed. A boy named Matthew drowned in the well which is called well of miracle or well of bapatism by the pattangatti, was brought into the church just before mass, and through the prayer of the saint, he was revived from death[2]

Other facts on this church[edit]

  • this is the first church to be built by a saint in honor of another saint
  • this church was supposed to be dearer to St.Francis Xavier, as he mentions of the building of this church in many of his letters written in 1544[1]
  • even though for more than two centuries, there was no contact of this church with the clergy or diocese, the altar on which St.Francis Xavier dedicated the first mass, the cross in front of the church and the well into which the boy fell and water from which were used to bapatise pattangatti, are still preserved by the katesar pattamkattiyars.
  • this church celebrate its feast twice a year,
  1. the older being in the middle Tuesday of February which is celebrated by the katesar/kadaiyar pattamkattiyars, old inhabitants of Kadayakudi or kombuthurai, tuticorin from whom the name is derived, in memory of their conversion in 1542 and the dedication of a smaller church that was rebuilt in 1544 by them and dedicated to St.Stephen, first martyr of the church, who was handed over as the patron saint of the entire caste by St.Francis xavier, on the last Tuesday in the Tamil month of Thai from the year 1543 which is the spring season that finds mention in letters of St.Francis Xavier to St.Ignatius of Loyola in 1543. This feast of st.Stephen, the first martyr is the traditional feast of this church initiated by st.Francis Xavier himself.
  2. the other being on 2 January, which is followed from 1980's by people of nearby villages.
  • this church was inactive after the inhabitants moved out of this place, due to suppression of Christians but exact reason has not been studied,[3] but the mass were conducted on the traditional feast day and on special occasions such as a thanksgiving by pattangatti family, but the church, the altar on which the saint Xavier offered mass and the statues were taken care of by the pattamkattiyars.
  • this church and another church in punnakayal, which were once the dwelling place of karaiyar or kadaiyar pattangatti, were funded by MANUEL DA CRUZ, the chief of pattangatti and king of pearl fishery coast.[1]
  • in 1983, this church was taken as a substaion of virapandianpattinam parish. During 1980-84, people from kanyakumari came and settled here in search of livelihood.After nearly 461 years of existence, this church was made a parish on 20 August 2003 by Peter Fernando without the approval of traditional caretakers. On 2013, this church was rebuilt by the new inhibitants and was dedicated on 1 May.

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