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ST. FRANCIS CHURCH


Location

 Video - In and Around St.Francis Church
St.Francis Church located in Kochi in India is the oldest European church. It was built originally in the year 1503. This church today stands as the evidence of history of Christianity in India. There is an interesting story associated with St.Francis Church. In 1503, the then Rajah of Kochi permitted Alphonso Alburquerque for building this church. It describes about the struggle of the European colonies in India.

The famous Portuguese explorer, Vasco da Gama, died in Kochi in 1524 when he was on his third visit to India. And then his body was buried in this church only. But later the remains of his body were taken back to Libson in Portugal. The church became a protected monument in 1923. This church can be visited from the city of Ernakulam.


Significance of the Church
St. Francis Church of Kochi was originally named as Santo Antonio, the patron Saint of Portugal. Though it has hardly any architectural merits, it has been the model of many churches in India. The church has gabled in itself timber-framed roof covered with tiles. The doors and windows of the this church have semi-circular arches. The facades are flanked on either side by a stepped pinnacle.

The bell turret of St. Francis Church at Kochi is divided into three compartments. Inside the church, the gravestones of the Portuguese is on the northern wall and that of the Dutch is on the southern wall. The gravestone of Vasco-da-Gama at St. Francis Church in Kochi is a major attraction there. Incidentally, after 14 years of his death, the remains were taken away to Lisbon in Portugal.

Being a simple unpretentious structure, St. Francis Church in particular does not have any architectural merit, but it stands as a landmark of history and church architecture of India. Interestingly, despite average architectural merit and even numerous churches have been erected in India while keeping the St. Francis Church as the model. It has been raised on a plan similar to the earlier types prevalent in Kerala, though in elevation. The church walls are adorned with beautiful painted artworks, while the church graveyard has graves of Portuguese and Dutch nobles.

Initially, the church was a simple wooden structure, dedicated to St Bartholomew. In 1506, the Raja of Cochin permitted the Portuguese Viceroy, Dom Francisco Almedia, to reconstruct the structure in stone. The new church was completed in 1516 and was dedicated to St Antony. The ownership of the Church of St Francis Xavier then passed into the hands of the Protestant Dutch, who captured Kochi in 1663. They converted it into their government church and it remained in the possession of the Dutch until 1795.

Thereafter, its ownership passed to the British, when they captured Kochi from the Dutch. The church became a protected monument in 1923, under the Protected Monuments Act of 1904. In 1947, this great congregation joined the Protestant Church of South India (CSI). St Francis Xavier's Church is also famous because Vasco-da- Gama, the first European to discover a route to India, died here in 1524 on his third visit and was buried in this church. Though his remains were shipped to Lisbon after 14 years, the gravestone is still seen here.

In a nutshell, St. Francis church is one of the major tourist spots of Kochi which magnetizes numerous tourists every year. The architecture and history related to the church is highly significant and plays a vital role in flourishing of the tourism industry of Kochi. One can conclude that the very legendary Church of St. Francis is like a mute witness to the times of colonial struggle to which India has been a victim.

Saint Francis Church - Kerala Nearby tourist places to St. Francis Church:

Kochi

Munnar

Thrissur

Wayanad
So, if you are a true lover of history or just have the worm within to know about what the nation has gone through in the eras that passed by then a trip to St. Francis church is a must.

How to Reach the Church
St. Francis Church, Kochi is accessible by bus or boat from Ernakulam, 13 km away. The nearest railway station is also at Ernakulam and the nearest airport is 22 km away, in Nedumbassery.
  • Through Aiways: International Air Port is at Nedumbassery, near Aluva, about 22 kms away from Ernakulam, Kochi. Airport Enquiry: 0484-2610015

  • Through Railways: The nearest railstation is at Ernakulam about 13 km from Fort Kochi. Kochi has 2 stations, Ernakulam Junction and Ernakulam Town. Trains from the Northern cities/Southern parts of India stop at Ernakulam Junction at D.H Road, Ernakulam South (Ph: 131), and Ernakulam Town, Near North Bridge.

  • Through Roadways: Buses are very frequent from Ernakulam to Fort Kochi. The bus ride from Ernakulam town, which is nearly 13 km away, takes about an hour. KSRTC Central Bus station is near the Ernakulam Junction railway station.