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, Kottakkayal (Paravoor or Kottakkavu), Palayoor (Chattukulangara) and Thiruvithamkode (Kanyakumari). Of which Church at Maliankara is considered as first church. Church at Kanyakumari is a small church and hence called Arappally (means Half Church).
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.
Paloor Church(Chattukulangara Pally)
Palayur Church is located at Palayur (also spelt Palayoor), in Thrissur district in Kerala. 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, as necessary, without sacrificing the main sanctity of the place.
It is also 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’.
Kottakkavu Church is church established by St. Thomas. 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.
Niranam Orthodox church is believed that the church was founded by St. Thomas. The church was reconstructed several times since then. The stones in the church shows the reconstruction in 1259.
Nilackal is a forest, almost 52 kilometres east to Ranni and near Sabarimala. 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 Chirstians, 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
Thiruvithamcode St Marys Orthodox Church (Arapalli) or Thomayar Kovil, is located in Thiruvithamcode, Tamil Nadu, India. 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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