Ezharappallikal or Seven and half Churches are the seven Churches or Christian communities across western coast of India founded by Thomas the Apostle in the first century. According to Indian Christian traditions, the Apostle Thomas arrived in Kodungallur (presently in the Indian state of Kerala) in AD 52, established the Eight Churches and evangelised in present-day Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Many of these churches built near Jewish settlements. These were at Maliankara (Kodungallur), Kollam, Niranam, Nilackal (Chayal), Kokkamangalam(Kothamangalam), Kottakkayal (Paravoor or Kottakkavu), Palayoor (Chattukulangara) and Thiruvithamkode (Kanyakumari). Of which Church at Maliankara is considered as first church. Church at Kanyakumari was built on the land given by arachan (king) and hence the name Arappally.
The Marthoma Pontifical shrine (Kodungaloor Mar Thoma Church) is considered as first church built by St. Thomas. The church is situated on the banks of the River Periyar is located about 6 km from Kodungallur, in the village of Azhikode in Kerala.
Palayoor Church (Chattukulangara Pally)
It is believed that the church found here by St. Thomas is actually the present Arthat St. Mary’s Orthodox Syrian Church. Arthat St. Mary's Cathedral is believed to be the pioneer Christian Community founded by St.Thomas in the first century A.D. The prominence given to this church by the early historians, circumstantial evidences, and the later historical records bear witness to this tradition. Arthat Cathedral Church, dedicated to St. Mary, The Mother of God, has a long and glorious tradition and history. It is the permanent monument of the St. Thomas mission in Kerala.
Some facts about Arthat and Palayur
The Church at Arthat is dedicated to St. Mary, The Mother of God, while that of present Palayur, to St. Kuriakose, a Saint who lived around fourth century A.D, and was introduced to Malankara only in the fifth century. It is impossible to buildup a church in first century by St. Thomas, in memory of a fourth century saint in anticipation. But it is more reasonable to believe, the Church at Arthat which was dedicated to St. Mary, as a permanent monument of St. Thomas mission. The present Palayur village is on the sea level, and during the formative years of Christian era, was believed to be, under the sea. The nearness to the sea, the sandy soil, and the presence of oceanic fossils also bear witness to this fact. But Arthat is the first high land from the sea level in the Paloor region, which was known as Jewish Hill or ‘Juda Kunnu’.
Later Romans or the Nasranis who joined the Roman Catholic faith began to claim that the Palayur Church located at Palayur (also spelt Palayoor), in Thrissur district in Kerala is the church which was found by St Thomas. But the historical evidences are against this claim. As this church is dedicated to St Kuriakose. The original small Church structure has been retained at the oldest site. But substantial improvements around it were carried out during the 17th century by Reverend Fenichi, and now the church looks like any Portuguese church from inside.
Kottakkavu Church is established by St. Thomas in North paravur in Ernakulam district. The second church of Kottakkavu was rebuilt at 9th century. The third church, was built in 1308. Pope Gregory XIII raised the altar of this church to the status of privileged altar in 1575.
It is situated at Kokkamangalam near Cherthala in Alappuzha district.St. Thomas sailed to Kokkamangalam where he preached the gospel for about a year. 1600 people converted to Christianity through him according to the narration in "Rampan Pattu", an ancient form of Christian folk-song prevalent in Kerala. He formed a Christian community at Kokkamangalam and enshrined a Cross for the faithful. This cross was later cut off by saboteurs, and thrown into the Lake Vembanad, through which it floated up to Pallippuram, where it is enshrined
Nilakkal is a forest, almost 52 kilometres east to Ranni and near Sabarimala in Pathanamthitta district. This church area was discovered during the time of Malankara Metropolitan Pulikottil Thirumeni (then head of the Orthodox Church). For the harmony of ecuminism among St Thomas Christians, then leadership of the Orthodox church paved way to dedicate the church for all denominations. It was a mountain route of trade between Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Saint Thomas accompanied by Habban came over here and baptised 1100 people. Today there exist the Nilackal St. Thomas Church, Ecumenical center trust and the cross established by Saint Thomas the apostle
Niranam Pally is one of the oldest churches in Kerala. It is believed that the church was founded by St. Thomas, in AD 54 at Niranam near Thiruvalla in Pathanamthitta district. The church was reconstructed several times since then. The stones in the church shows the reconstruction in 1259.On his way from Kollam in northeast direction he arrived at Niranam "Thrikpapaleswaram" by sea.He converted two Hindu Brahmin families named Pattamukkil,Thayyil and Two nair families named Manki,Madathilan to christianity.He also gives priestly powers to the members of Pattamukkil family.Priests from Pattamukkil family used to stay there and done priesthood and governed Niranam church and its properties in the ancient days.Tharavad is surrounded from three sides of Niranam Church
It is believed to be one of the oldest churches in Kerala and thus in India as well as among the oldest ones in the world. The architecture shows striking similarities to ancient temple architecture. It isestablished by St.Thomas.It is a very important place for the Christians.
Thiruvithamcode St Marys Orthodox Church (Arapalli) or Thomayar Kovil, is located in Thiruvithamcode, Tamil Nadu, India, 30 km to the south of the Kerala state border. It is believed by the Christian communities in Kerala that the historic Thiruvithamcode Arappally, also called Amalagiri church as named by the Chera King Uthiyan Cheralathan, was built by St. Thomas, known as theApostle of India, in 63 AD
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