Christianity in Tamil Nadu is believed to be about 2000 years old. It is said to have originated in Kanyakumari district of this South Indian state in 52AD by St. Thomas. He was one of Jesus Christ’s Apostles. He landed in Malabar Coast (known as Kerala today) then.

Today, Saint Thomas Christians are regarded as the oldest group of Christians in the state. Later, with the arrival of Europeans in Tamil Nadu, Christianity spread in every nook and corner and led to the establishment of churches. At present, about 6 per cent of the state’s population is Christian. They are chiefly found in southern districts like Tirunelveli, Thoothukudi, and Kanyakumari.

Majority of Christians here are members of either the Church of South India or the Latin Rite Roman Catholic Church. Headquarters of the Pentecostal Mission is in Chennai.

Famous Churches of Tamil Nadu

Velankanni Church

Velankanni Church, located in Chennai, was constructed as a tribute to Our Lady of Health, the Madonna of Velankanni. This church is smaller than the original one, but is well known for its miraculous healing powers. It attracts swarms of visitors all year round.

San Thome Cathedral Basilica

San Thome Cathedral Basilica in Chennai is named after St. Thomas, one of the apostles of Jesus Christ. He arrived in Madras (Chennai today) in 52 AD and was slayed on St. Thomas Mount in 78 AD by a fanatic. Later on, a new church was built in his name and his mortal remains were transferred to the new church from the old one.

In 1606, the church was reconstructed as a cathedral. In 1896, it was turned into a Basilica. It features artistic stained glass windows that depict the story of St. Thomas. The central hall features 14 wooden plaques that connote Jesus Christ’s last days. Statue of Virgin Mary, which is 3 feet high, is an element of interest here. It is believed to have been imported from Portugal in 1543.

St Mary's Church

St. Mary's Church in Chennai is India’s oldest Anglican Church. It was constructed in 1680. The church is also called “Westminister Abby of the East.” The wedding of Robert Clive and Elihu Yale was solemnized here.

The church’s courtyard features tombstones, which are the oldest ones of the British in India. The altar piece depicts the Last Supper that Jesus Christ had before his crucification. The piece was brought to Madras by the British troops who evaded Pondicherry in 1761. A unique feature of this church is its bomb-proof roof. It is 4 feet thick and rounded.

C.S.I. Holy Cross Church

The C.S.I. Holy Cross Church, also in Chennai, is over 120 years old. Its original name was Perambur Railway Church. It came under the railway authorities at that time. Earlier, it featured Anglo-Indian congregation predominantly. Now families from other southern states, too, form a part of the congregation.

St. George's Cathedral

St. George's Cathedral is located in the heart of Chennai. It features a grand building with its steeple tearing the skies. It seems to be reaching the Heavens and connecting with God.

The cathedral features splendid architecture. It was constructed in 1815. A striking feature here is the graveyard located adjacent to the building. Cathedral’s guardrail is made of war emblems like bayonets, muskets, and others. They were seized from Srirangapatnam in 1799.

The whole cathedral is filled with prayer vibes. It is regarded as “House of Prayer” for everybody. The cathedral is open from 6 in the morning to 6 in the evening. The Congregation consists of communities from across India and various parts of the world. The cathedral is dipped in spirituality and splendor. It has a distinct place in church’s history. The united Church of South India was inaugurated here on September 27, 1947.

A turret clock, towering 139 feet high, faces three directions of the church. It was dedicated to the British East India Company. Pipe organ is the oldest organ still played in the church while singing during the worship hour.

Poondi Madha Basilica

Poondi Madha Basilica, in the honor of Our Lady of Lords Basilica, is a Catholic pilgrimage center in Poondi in Thanjavur. Poondi is a small village of Thiruvaiyaru, at a distance of 35 km from Thanjavur. It is one of the Roman Catholic pilgrim centers. It is similar to Velankanni, which features the well known Poondi Madha Shrine. It attracts swarms of tourists from across India.

Tamil Nadu features devotees of all kinds. From Hindus worshipping various deities to Christians ringing their church bells, the southern state has a lot to offer to awestruck tourists. The churches are wrapped in interesting history and are ages old; yet their grandeur is at the peak. It manages to dazzle visitors. They are easily accessible too. The state is well connected in terms of transport.


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