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St.Thomas International Shrine Malayattoor - Christian Pilgrim Centre In India

India's only international Catholic shrine, Malayattoor is situated on the western seacoast of the Indian peninsula. The hilltop is the oldest and most popular pilgrim centre to the memory of Saint Thomas the Apostle who founded Catholicism in the subcontinent. According to local folklore, when St Thomas reached Malayattoor (meaning: where mountain, river and land meet) a hostile crowd greeted him, forcing him to take refuge atop a mountain where he spent several days in prayer. The locals were finally won over by St Thomas through his prayers and devotion.

Malayattoor is 50 kilometers from Kochi (Cochin) and hardly few kilometers from Kodungalloor where the Saint landed in AD 52. It is believed that when St Thomas touched a rock during those intense moments of prayer at Malayattoor, blood sprang out, and later Mother Mary appeared to him atop Malayattoor.

The pilgrim center was declared an international shrine in 2004.

Kurisumudi, the pinnacle of the hill where a church was built over a cross that St Thomas had placed, is 1,269 feet from sea level. The Periyar river flows below the pilgrim centre.

According to tradition, ever since the cross placed bythe Apostle was found, locals used to light an oil lamp at 1he spol. Whenever the lamp was put off by winds, a herd of goats used to run down the hill wailing, and thus alerting the locals, They would climb up to lighl the lamp again. Even today, pilgrims who climb the peak carry with them seasame seeds for goats; that are rarely seen today.

In the initial days a 16 feet long cross was built over the golden cross and a chapel was constructed over it. Close to the chapel are the footprints of the saint embedded in the rock. Devotees throng Kaalpadam (footprint) to receive favours from the saint. Pristine water flows out of a mysterious stream at this height, quenching the thirst of pilgrims.

Pilgrim Season and Festival: The pilgrim centre draws a few million people during the Lent season. The feast of St Thomas (Puthunjayar - New Sunday) is celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter, to commemorate the meeting of Resurrected Jesus with his disciples. The highlight of the New Sunday celebrations is a colourful procession carrying the statue of St Thomas, which attracts hundreds of thousands irrespective of their religion. With traditional music, colourful ornamental umbrellas, flags, and other accompaniments, it is a breathtaking celebration of belief and tradition.

Location: In south Indian state of Kerala, the village of Malayattoor is 10 km from Kalady, nearest township and 50 km from Kochi. Cochin (Kochi) International Airport, Nedumbassery is 15 km away.

St Thomas Arch-diocesan Shrine (Catholic) Kurisumudy, Malayattoor (Archdiocese of Ernakulam -Angamaly), Malayattoor P.O., 683 587, India Tel: 91-484-2468208, 2468308, 2468868 Website : http://www.malayattoorkurisumudy.in

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Source: Catholic Dir Of India 2005



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