Bharananganam Church

Bharananganam is an important christian pilgrimage centre. This is located 5 km distasnce from Pala district Kottayam, now this is an important pilgrim centre at Kerala by the name of blessed Alphonsamma who was buried in this church. This is also known as Aanakkallu palli.

The church is build amidst interminably among Christians in local area during AD 1004. Christians struggling for the location of church and they went for even to quarrel among them. The then ruler of the local area interpreted and suggested a point. His elephant will find out exact location for the church in question. The foundation stone was laid on the same day and all are accepted the decision. Thus, a small church is built. The architecture is used was old temple. Few years later, some more Christian reached Bharananganam from Neelakkall and surrounding, they become stronger and wants a big church instead small. In 1935, a big church built and the new families brought the idol of St. Francis and then installed. When the Portuguese are in command on the Indian Christians, they rebuilt the Church on their style. Before that, all churches adopted temple architecture and even the first sailor from Portugal Vasco de Gama prayed in a temple believing it as a church. In 1913, this church demolished to reconstruct another church. However, it took a long 15 years to complete the works the obvious reason was First World War. This is the fourth church and a big one in gothic style. It is 180 feet long and 62 feet wide. It is built with local available materials. The altar of the old church as kept even now. There was a small church adjacent to the old church and it is still there.

St.Alphonsamma was born on 19th august 1910 in a small village Kudamaloor, house name is Muttathupadam of kottayam district. A traditional family named Muttathupadathu blessed to have Sr. Alphonsa (maiden name A.E Anna).Alphonsa's mother died when she was very young and was adopted by her maternal aunt, Annamma Muricken of the erstwhile Muricken family at Muttuchira and her great-uncle Rev. Fr. Joseph Muttathupadathu. She studied up to 8th standard. As a child, little Alphonsa was inspired by St Theresa of Lisieux and she wanted to dedicate her life to Christ. At 13 years of age, she burned her foot in an ash pit to turn down a marriage proposal. Against such determined resistance, her aunt brought her up with strict discipline, allowed her to join a convent. Yet she remained at Muttuchira muricken tharavad (family) till she was 15 years. Her Holy Communion (1917) and confirmation (1925) were held at Muttuchira church. She joined Franciscan Clarist convent at Bharananganam on 2nd August 1928. Then she joined Clarist convent at Vazhappally, Changanacherry. Unfortunately, she fell ill and brought back to Bharanganam convent. For a short period, she was a teacher at Vakakkadu School. Illness became a regular visitor of Sr. Alphonsa. She was bedridden and not able to walk. Yet she prayed all the time. All treatments proved resultless. On 28 july 1946 she was called her eternal home. The mortal remains laid to rest at Bharananganam forage church. Surprisingly very few people attended the funeral. However, very soon mostly students visited her grave by. They got the blessings of God especially for winning high marks in school and college examinations. Gradually several people started visiting Bharananganam and St. Alphonsa's tomb.

Saint Alphonsa lived a saintly life and was recognize as a person during her life time. Even at an young age, she showed a great zeal for suffering, used to pray fervently, and long for sacrifice and fasting as and when possible. She believed that must endure all things that tests her will and offer them to the Lord. In spite of her painful diseases, she was cheerful to the last. Her students established the cult of Saint Alphonsa. After her death, they began visiting her tomb and offering prayers. As they continued, they started receiving favors. Ever since, her tomb has been a centre of pilgrimage and innumerable miracles. The first officially confirmed miracle was that of Jithin, a disabled child who was miraculously cure of his ailment and his limbs restored, due to prayers at the altar of Sister Alphonsa's shrine. The miracle approved in 1985. There is a belief that illness will be cured miraculously by praying at St. Alphonsas grave. Pope John Paul II declared st.Alphonsa “blessed” on 1986 February when he visited Kerala. (The podium built for the ceremony at Kottayam was kept near the Bharananganam church. It was the maiden visit of a Pope to Kerala and second visit of a Pope to India. The first pope to visit India was Paul VI. Pope Benedict XVI expects beatification of Sr. Alphonsa on 12 October 2008 at Vatican. Then Sr.Alphonsa will be the first Indian saint. Though Pope Pius IX declared Gonsalo Garza (1557-1597) from Maharastra in 1862, he was only half-Indian. He was born to Indian mother and Portuguese father. The beatification process of Sr.Alphonsa started back in 1953. After numerous complicated processes, the final declaration is expected. December 8th (Francis Assisi feast), St. Sebastian's feast (January 20, 21) St. Alphonsa day (July 28) are the main festivals of Bharananganam. People belong to various communities live here in harmony, and all celebrate the festivals of the church and temple.





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