Vallarpadam Church History
I grew up listening to the stories of Vallarpadathamma and the miraculous, “Vallarpadam Church.” Ours is a beautiful little town that lies closer to Kochi backwaters and we used to rush to Vallarpadathamma irrespective of joy or agony.
Since childhood, the church has been a part of my life. I used to attend the holy mass at Vallarpadam church regularly, accompanied by my grandmother. On our way, my granny used to tell me exciting stories about the rich and vibrant past of Kochi. In our community, Vallarpadam is nothing but a miracle town. I was always keen to listen to stories about Kochi and its attractions. As always, my grandmother was enthusiastic to tell stories about Vallarpadam church and I enjoyed listening to her. She had an amazing skill in storytelling and today, I miss her, the most!
Among the places to visit in Kochi, the Vallarpadam church holds special significance. The blissful ambiance of the church creates a meditative mode and is also known for beauty rituals. The history of the church dates back to the 16th century when the Portuguese established the church for the Holy Spirit. The main attraction of the church was the wooden carved painting of Mother Mary holding a child, named as “Blessed Mary of Mercy.”
Now I will share some interesting stories my Grandma told me! Ready?
As told earlier, the painting of Mother Mary holding a child is one of the main attractions of the church. Unfortunately, during the floods which happened in 1676, the church was destroyed and the picture was lost. The devotees were sad and worried, fortunately, Palliyath Raman Valiyachan, the then Diwan of Kochi, found the picture floating in the backwaters. He instantly picked the miniature and took it with him. Later, he donated land to construct the church and “Vallarpadam Church”, which is a prominent attraction in Kochi sightseeing was built. The image was installed there along with the two lamps and oil donated by him. Since then, on September 24th, the feast day of Vallarpadam, a member from the Palliyath family lit the lamp which will be lit all year long.
The Miracle of Meenakshiamma
In 1752, Meenakshiamma, one of the residents on the island, was going to her relative’s home in Ernakulam. She was holding her one-year-old child and was sitting relaxed in the boat. When the boat reached the middle of the Lake, suddenly a storm approached and the boat sank. Most of the passengers knew swimming and they escaped! The islanders searched for Meenakshiamma and her child, sadly they couldn't trace them. Everyone believed that they were dead. Surprisingly, that night Fr. Miguel Correa, the Vicar of Vallarpadam Church had a dream that the woman and the child were alive. The story further states that while sinking Meenakshiamma called out Mother Mary and promised she would dedicate her life to serve Mother Mary. Later, she kept her promise. The locals and the members of the church kept her image beside the deity and it is a prominent attraction, even today!
In 1888, Pope Leo XIII declared the church a special church. Today, the church is not only famous as a pilgrim site but also as one of the must-visit Kochi tourist places.
There are many more big and small miracle stories related to the church and Mother Mary. Based on these stories, the people of the island and also from different parts of the world, believe that people who are in despair, sickness, and hopelessness will be healed by Mother Mary. They come to the church and perform various rituals including “ADIMA VEKKAL“, “MUTTAMADIKAL“, “MUTTILIZHAYAL” etc. Every day, the church is flooded with people who are worried about being jobless, without children, health-related issues, and financial problems. They trust and perform special prayers and later many of them visit the church to state the blessings they received. However, there is no doubt about the fact that Vallarpadathamma has a strong influence on the lives of a large number of people.
If you are planning to visit Kochi, then plan a visit to “The Church of Our Lady of Ransom” for an amazing spiritual journey. Being the oldest European Churches in India, constructed by the Portuguese Missionaries, Vallarpadam church is a must-visit place in Kochi. The architecture and the meditative surrounding will take you to a trance, something you might be longing for ages!
I hope you enjoyed reading the blog, if you have any experience to share, please comment. Thank You!