St. Mary's Forane (Martha Mariam) Church

St. Mary's Forane (Martha Mariam) Church
Martha Mariam church is the ancestral home of Christian communities in Kerala and out side the State. It is in Meenachil Taluk, 22 kms north of Kottayam, on the eastern side of M.C. Road. Martha Mariam Church belongs to the diocese of Palai.

Traditional beliefs, some legendary factors and historical associations contribute to the actual history of the church. It is believed that four Christian families - viz. Palli (Kalli), Kaliyakal (kalikavu), Sankarapuri and Pakalomattam from Palayur arrived at Ettumanoor and they moved to Kalikavu near Kuravilangad in the beginning of the second century.
It is also believed that Our Lady appeared to a few children at Kuravilangad, who were tending their flock in the bushes. Our Lady asked them to build a church at the place from where a miraculous perpetual spring sprouted, a spring which exists even today. The children reported this matter to the elders and a church was built there. The present church was completed in 1960 when Rev. Fr. Thomas Manakattu was the parish priest.
Kuravilangad has a unique place in the history of the Church of Malabar. The temporal administration of the church was conducted by Archdeacons who were very influential in the society. It is believed that the Archdeacons have been descended from the Pakalomattam family. The mortal remain of a few Archdeacons are still preserved at the Pakalomattam Chapel.
Mar Alexander De Campo (Parampil Chandy Metran) is an illustrious son of Kuravilangad. He is the first indigenous bishop of the whole of India. He was ordained bishop on first February 1663 by Mar Sebastany a foreign bishop. Mar Alexander was staying at Kuravilangad till his death, 2nd January 1687. Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Nidhiri ( Nidhirikal Mani kathanar ) (1842- 1904) of Kuravilangad is a colossus in the history of the church in Kerala. He was an eminent educationalist, orator, organizer and a champion of ecumenism. He was the first editor of the first Malayalam daily "Deepika". As vicar of the Kuravilangad church, he started the St.Mary's English school for boys in 1894. The present president of India, K. R. Narayanan matriculated from this school. Fr. Jacob Panamkuzhakal (Panamkuzhakal Valliyachan) (1479-1543) was a very holy priest of Kuravilangad. Many people testify on the favours received through the intercession of Fr. Jacob. The Panamkuzhakal family celebrates the death anniversary of Fr. Jacob on 5th November every year.
"Moonnu Nompu" is the main feast of the church. Thousands of people from all over Kerala come to this three-days-feast. The ceremonial procession on the second day of the feast when the replica of the vessel used by prophet Jonah of the OT is taken out is the main attraction of the feast. The people of the Kadapoor locality has the privilege to carry the vessel during the procession.
The statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary kept at the side altar is unique. It is carved from granite and it is believed that it was brought from North India. This is a miraculous statue and the devotees call this statue "Kuravilangad Muthiyamma".

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