Churches I visited
In the early 1990s, I got an official visitor who wanted to visit churches in Chennai. I had taken him to the nearby churches but she was only aware of the churches which are ancient and peculiar to Chennai, though I was aware of these churches but had never visited and known its uniqueness. Thanks to her for making me aware of them.
Here is the trip which we started from Fort St. George, the first ancient church built in India by the British and moved to Santhome. From there we went to Little Mount and then to St. Thomas Mount. This made me interested in visiting the churches of Chennai and I visited the Velankanni Church, Besant Nagar, St.George's Cathedral, Nungambakkam, St. Andrews Church, Egmore, Armenian Church near Parrys Corner.
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I give below my observations/view points about these Churches:
It is in the midst of the Government Secretariat building of Tamil Nadu. It is the oldest church carrying the legacy of the British and to be proven worthy of it, things like bible, silver plates and silver plaques are available.
This church is built over the tomb of St. Thomas who is one of the Apostles of Jesus Christ. This is unique in the sense that in the world, only 3 churches are built over tombs viz St.Peters in Rome and St.James in Spain. There is an underground chapel below the basilica. This can be seen through a glass from the church itself. Also, there is a tower (in Tamil called kodi maram) and I heard in news that it protected the places from tsunami.
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Little Mount Church(also called chinnamalai)
It is on the back of Adyar. This place is believed to be where St. Thomas lived and preached. He is said to be the father of Christianity in India.
The following is the story of St.Thomas who lived here
He lived in the cave and prayed on the top of the hill and preached. The cave is seen and can be accessed from the old Church (chinna kovil). This is used for prayer and meditation. There is an opening on the other side through which St. Thomas is said to have fled to escape and there is proof on the stone which has a writing that says that that the Hindu king had assailed him. Hand and foot imprints are etched on the rock. There is a spring which was dug by him on the rocks and drank the refreshing water when he was thirsty. There also is a writing that he had escaped from here and ran to the St. Thomas Mount.
With the importance of this place, Portuguese built a church called Lady of Health Church.
A small hill lock and here is the Martyrdom of St. Thomas. Also the blood spots are preserved in a glass storage. Also there is a shrine dedicated to 'Lady of our Expectation' where St. Thomas is said to have died.
This Church is known as Armenian Church of Virgin Mary.
This is built like the one in Scotland by Scottish and is known as Queen of Scottish Churches in East and has its own beauty with the sky blue dome with black and white marble roof.
St. George Cathedral
St. George has an important place in Indian Christianity, and this has a space to occupy about 2000 people outside and tall pillars, mural tables and memorials inside the church.
This is in the honour of Our Lady of Health and built as like in Nagapattinam but is smaller in size and is believed to have miraculous curative powers of the Madonna and one can see people from all caste and creed visiting regularly and they show their devotion in their own style.
Though the above list is not exhaustive, but this has covered most of the ancient churches of Chennai and one can really make a pilgrimage trip to these churches.
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