Our Parish

About Our Parish

At the beginning...

Alanchy was not a place to be lived in. It was full of bushes and thorns, filled with palm trees. One could find little ponds here and there. Since it is nearby sea shore, a soothing breeze was flowing in. The whole village was spread with the presence of Hindu Nayars who were the landlords, occupying the resources of the village. The Nadar community which is considered as backward class was slave to Nayars toiling in the lands. Some in the Nadar community were the palm climbers, extracting palm juice to make palm cake by which they made their both ends meet. The places can be particularized where the Nadar community was living in the village, namely Pothiyan vilai, Adapoor, Kudal vilai and Ezhuvilaipattu. The life situation of this community was pathetic due to the suppression by Nayars and the poverty they underwent. These had an impact on their health and belief.

In fact, they were waiting for the day to be liberated. We believe god who hears the cry of the oppressed. He sent St.Francis Xavier as a redeemer. He landed in Goa on 1541 as a great missionary. He moved to Tuticorin, Manapadu and finally to Kanyakumari to spread the good news to the humanity. He did his mission work in colachel, Kurumbani and Midalam. Alanchy was a resting place for the Saint doing his mission, because this place was very calm and quit. This message has been passed on the younger generation till this day through Carl singing. There were five Banyan trees under which St. Xavier used to take rest. This caused the place to be called Alanchy. (AL-mean-Banyan tree, Anchi means five). As he made use of the place to take rest, he could not skip himself noticing the life style, difficulties and turmoil underwent by the Nadar community. They had falls worshiped, ignorant of many things. He gathered them together, preached them the good news and converted them into Christianity. He also appointed catechist called ‘Pothi’ to care the new Christians during his absence. Those Christians lived with the catechist (Pothi) together. The place is called Pothiyan vilai till this day.

After baptizing them, in order to gather them together, he built a small church with palm leaves. He also installed a stone cross inside the church. To evangelize the people in china, he moved to china, but happened to die in Sansian Island. Thus his mission came to an end. In the meantime the church built by him with palm leaves perished and the stone cross was buried by bushes and thrones. The Nadar community was those days not economically sound to build a church to worship the lord. The Nayar community which was subjugating the Nadar community did not accept Christian religion which all the more caused difficulties to the Nadar community. That was the reason Christian religion could not root itself in their area. The neighborhood of the Nadar community in coastal people who had already received faith but could not come together as Christian along with the Nadar community due to cast basis. Moreover, there was no one to organize them, or motivate them to come together as one family.

When holiness touches, the land becomes holy. The dream of the saint began to be true when the holy cross was found by the local people. People of the soil used to gather bushes and thrones in order to feed the livestock and to use them as fire woods. It so happened, one day someone gathered the bushes, his sickle touched the holy cross which became the turning point for the new Christians again to come together. They removed all the bushes and thorns and made a small church with coconut leaves. In the beginning they connected themselves with Vadakankulam church and then with Karankadu church. After this, there was a tremendous growth in the faith of the people. In 1840 AD, Rev.Fr.Elias, a Carmelite priest, who was the parish priest of the Karankadu, originally from Belgium, used to visit the village, travelling by a horse. He was eager to build a church for the village. This substation was full of small valleys; red sands which were considered to be infertile .The boundaries were Kurumpanai in the south, Periavilai and Vannanvilai as east and Pariakal as west as territories. This land was purchased from a Nayar. As far as the rules are concerned in the community, the land holders are not a particular person of the family, but the family as a whole member of the family field a case against him at Eranial court. Fr. Elias took it as a challenge, witnessed in the court, explained the purpose of beginning. Finally, he could gain victory. Thus, he built the church in the place when the stone cross was found. This is to be noted that the present after in the place when the first church was built.

The First Church (1800AD)

The first church in Alanchy was built by Portuguese masons since the art of building a church was unknown to the local people. The first church was engulfed with fine arts and architectures. It was just below the present altar having five steps deep down. The roof of the church was made of gothic culture. There were three statues namely Mother Mary, St. Francis Xavier and St. Ignatius placed on the altar. Those two statues mother Mary and St. Francis Xavier that are placed in the present church that made of wood. There was an art of depicting Abraham trying to offer Isaac drawn at the wall of the altar. Inside the church too there were fine arts that were very attractive and appealing. After the erection of the new church, there was a need for a priest to serve the faithful especially for those who were found in Kalimar, Kandarvilagam, Panavilai, Ravilai, Saletnagar, Chentharai, Ezhuvilaipattu, Adapoor, Neervakuzhi, Kadamankuzhi, Pothiyanvilai, Paravilai and those people around the church. Therefore, a parochial house was built in the southern part of the church that was touching the church building too. This was furnished with wood having two stories.

Priest started staying in the parochial house in order to serve the faithful. When the bishop of Kollam came for pastoral visit he could not agree with the parochial construction since it was taller than the church building. The diocese of Kottar then was one of the vicariates of Kollam diocese, which was pastorally cared by Carmel mission. So, to say, the bishop and the priests in the diocese were Carmelites. Due to the fact Alanchy parish had more than 140 acres of land; they wanted to build a formation house for the Carmelites in 1890 AD. Therefore, they made an investigation about the possibilities to have a formation house. As a result, they came to know that there was scarcity of water in this area that they had to give up the idea. But it was built in Pancode nearby Trivandrum. This became the head –quarter for the Carmelites.

Carmelites did not want to give back the land to the village. They continued to enjoy the property. Gradually people came to know about it, after a big struggle, they won the land on 2001. However, the Carmelite fathers had already sold a huge portion of the land to the local people. In those days, the people of the locality had been affected by Vaisuri and Cholera due to which many of them died. In order to save themselves from this, they had Carl singing seeking the help of the Saint Francis Xavier. This practice is continuing till these days. Through the intercession of St. Francis Xavier people could get relieved to a great extent. The Nayar community was tremendously upset about the sickness. Therefore, they sold the property to the local people and settled in nearby places namely Patharai and Sasthankarai. This made the way for the local people, belonging to Nadar community to settle themselves in Alanchy. Thus, the Christian presence in Alanchy was being expanded.

Building a Stone Church

Since the old church was small, the number of the families was increasing day by day and the promise made to the bishop to build a new church, people took an initiative to do that. However, they did not want to demolish the artistically built church which was beautiful and small. Therefore, they built a new church around the previous one that is still there under the altar of the present-day church. The newly built church which was in a cross shape was the sweat of the local people digging a deep bit for the basement, laying huge stones under. They contributed a lot in the form of labor, providing palm juice to mix the clay, offering wood for furniture works. Those days there were no stone quarries, no vehicle facilities, they had to carry the stone from faraway places on head. The local people went to Thundam, Thammam (Pariakal) to carry.

The same story was with carrying sand from faraway places namely Alanchy and Pampoors channels. They made a combination between palm juice, sand and calcium in order to be strong. They used the grinding machines that were used to squace oil nuts. During construction there were very few masons found in the locality, therefore there was a need to bring masons from nearby places namely Colachel and Ritapuram. In the face of Sevier economic crisis, they built that church. They could not continue their work due to their poverty. Therefore, they stopped the work up to lintel level that prolonged for ten years. During that time Fr. Dominic became the parish priest and made the possibilities to continue the work. The successor was Fr. Lucas.

The altar of that newly built church was wonderful. There were three statues on the altar. St. Francis Xavier at the center, St. Ignatius at the right side and St. Michael the Archangel at the left side were placed. The crucifix and the tabernacle were placed under the statue of St. Francis Xavier. There were three steps made on the altar and at the third step was decorated with cement grills. There were two sub-altars too at the side of the main altar respectively. After vat II, the church asked the faithful to make some changes and the cement grills were placed around the shrine found at the junction of the village, that are found till these days.

The new church was the real and sincere commitment of the faithful, when the then bishop of Kollam, at Rev. Benzihar came to visit the church; he was so much taken up to witness such a beautiful church. As a token of love and concern he donated a church bell made of bronze that was shaped at Belgium. Therefore, we see of the bell bvg-1928.This is the bell that was seen even today at the top of the church. The sound of the bell vibrates at least three kilometers. The new church was blessed by bishop Benzihar on 1928 when Fr. Domenic was the parish priest.

In 1930 the Kottar vicariate was bifurcated and became a new diocese having four vicariates. The first bishop of the diocese is Rt. Rev. Lawrence Pereira. During his sickness he stayed in Alanchy to take rest in the year 1932-33. He administered the whole diocese by being in Alanchy. In 1937, Alanchy being separated from Karankadu, became the substation of Kurumbanai, it was a turning point in the growth of Alanchy parish. In 1950, they demolished the first floor of the parochial house to renovate the building.

Alanchy Substation becoming a Parish

On 29/05/1966, Alanchy was elevated as a main parish; Rev. Fr. Darmanathar was the first parish priest. Here, Kandarvilagam became its substation. Due to some inconveniences it separated itself from Alanchy. Before the Vatican council II was held the liturgical language was Latin. Both priest and the faithful were facing themselves on the altar. Even though the faithful did not understand Latin, they had reverence toward liturgy. The respondents of the liturgy were called ‘moosk’ (singers). After vat II, in the year 1973, the liturgical language was localized. The stone cross which was laid by St. Francis Xavier was placed in the hall found before the church where we see today the flag hoisting stone, those days the faithful had a popular devotion towards this cross, therefore, Rev. Fr. Pieter who was the parish priest that time demolished the hall and buried the cross there itself. When the present church was built, Rev. Fr. Mathias took an effort to bring it back. Thus, the stone cross is presently placed at the left side of the church entrance.

The Miracles through the intercession of the Patron Saint St. Francis Xavier

There was a tradition saying that St. Francis Xavier used to celebrate mass with the liturgical dress in the night in the old churches. The stone cross healed the patients affected by cholera and Vaisure. More than believing a physician, they believed the power of St. Francis Xavier who was considered to be the best physician for the poor and the marginalized. The car station of the church served itself as the dispensary where by the sick and the possessed had been laid. Through the intercession of St. Francis Xavier many were healed from their sickness. Those who had been healed were happy and possessing lot of wealth and leading a peaceful life. Those who believed in him received many blessings in their lives. Perhaps, this is the reason why there is a constant increase of the number of devotees that is explicitly seen during his feast. The faithful come to thank the saint through whom they have been blessed. The place, Alanchy filled with bushes and thorns, has become the place of prosperity due to the hard labor of the people and the blessing of the saint. The economic status of the people is stepping high. It is presently called as a small Persia.

The Construction of the New Church

There was an emergence to build a new church, in 1988, it so happened that during the mass presided over by Rev. Fr. Mathias, the northern side of the church’s roof developed a crack and the tiles started falling down inside the church. It was a shock to the parish priest and the parishners. Therefore, the parish priest invited the people to build a new church. Due to economic crisis that could not be realized immediately. In order to prevent any further danger, they placed a long wooden piece to support the roof. In 1989, July 24th, the then bishop Leon. A. Dharma raj laid a foundation stone to construct a new church. hey started the work immediately, demolishing the old church. They made use of the draw materials to construct a new building in the high school. The quotation was asked and a manager to look after the work was appointed. They formed a committee for the church construction. It started raising fund. A committee to audit the church account was also appointed. Since the church building is little large in size, the expenses were little more. The parishners could meet all the expenses. Moreover, the new church is the sacrifice of the people of different walks of life in the parish.

This new church is of cross in shape, the altar indicates the modern art. Marble stones are placed on the face of the altar. A big crucifix is fixed on the altar. The roof is made of aspectas sheet and the floor is laid of mosaic cement. Just before the entrance there is a portico in which the statue of St. Francis Xavier and the stone cross are placed. The churches tower at the face is 121’ height with a good architecture that is of European style. It is to be noted that all the towers around the church indicate the modern civilization. By the grace of god, through the intercession of our patron saint St. Francis Xavier, this new church was blessed on 9th February 1996 by Rt. Rev. Leon. A. Dharma raj, the then bishop of Kottar. During that time, Fr. Peter Arul Raj was the parish priest.

Today the Parish is...

This parish today is divided into 31 Basic Christian Communities. It has got a governing body called parish council and the subordinate bodies such as pious associations and movements. St. Francis Xavier, the patron saint is interceding for us, showers grace upon us and makes the way to lead a peaceful life. We cordially invite you all to get the blessings of our patron saint St. Francis Xavier.

Compiled by:
Mr. S. Rajesh, MA, M.Phil, Ph.D
Translated by:
Rev. Fr. S. Godwin Selva Justus

"For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Matthew 16:26)