St. Xavier

St. Xavier

Address:

St. Xavier’s Church
Punnaikayal
Tuticorin Dt
Pin : 628 151.
Ph.No : 04639-228240.

Brief History:

In 1544 while Francis Xavier was working at Punnaikayal, he built a church with sand and coconut leaves, assisted by Mr. Manuel de Cruz. But, the Vadugar army of the Madurai Nayak destroyed this church in 1551. Fr. Henri Antriquez, the provincial superior of the Pearl Fishery Coast built a new church dedicated to Our Lady of Immaculate Conception at Punnaikayal. Later this very church began to be known as “ Rajakanni Matha Church ”. As Punnaikayal was the head quarters for the Portuguese Administration, Jesuits also established their head quarters there for their security. Fr. Antriquez set up there the first Tamil Printing press, hospital, Tamil College and a seminary. Books such as “History of Saints” (Adiyar Varalaru) and “Guide to Confession” (Pavasangirthana Kaiyedu) written by Fr. Antriquez himself were printed at Punnaikayal itself. As Francis Xavier was canonized in 1662, a church in his name was built outside the village of Punnaikayal . The Dutch took over Punnaikayal in 1663 and they made the church of “Rajakanni Matha” into a trading center. Eventually this church ceased to exit. When the Dutch took hold of “Rajakanni Matha” church, the statue of “Rajakanni Matha” was kept at St. Xavier’s Church, where liturgical services were taking place. In 1700 Jesuits built a chapel for St. Anne at the center of the village. As this building deteriorated in course of time, Parish priests of Punnaikayal such as Frs. Matthew Fernando, Stephendas and Richard Rodrigo repaired it. Fr. Lambert Miranda repaired St. Xavier’s church in 1964. In 1844 Punnaikayal was divided into two due to the rift between the French and Goa Mission. People belonging to the Goa Mission built a church for St. Michael and began to worship there. During a turmoil in 1849 this church was destroyed by fire. Goa mission people bought a land within the village and once again built St. Michael’s church. In accordance with the contract between the Pope and the Portuguese government, this church was joined to Mylapore diocese of the Goa Mission. The parish of St. Michael’s church had Mukkani, Sernthamangalam and Kuruvithurai as its substations. St. Xavier’s church parish was in the care of the Jesuits. Fr. M.J. Pinto repaired and enlarged St. Michael’s church in 1906 with donations from the Goa Mission people. On the 7 th of April 1930, St. Michael’s church which had been with Mylapore diocese, came under the governance of Thoothukudi diocese and attached to St. Xavier’s Parish of Punnaikayal. Fr. P.S. Soosainather who became parish priest after this unification, laid foundation for the new rectory for the former Jusuit St. Xavier’s church parish. During the time of Fr. Maria Kagoo, St. Michael’s church parish rectory was made into the Sacred Heart Convent, and eventually a school. In the time of Fr. Benedict Fernando, St. Michael’s church also became a school and in due course existed no longer. Realizing the need for a bigger church, Fr. Raja Bose tore down St. Anne’s church and took efforts to built a church dedicated to Our Lady of Rosary in that place. Bishop Ambrose on the 7 th of October 1979 laid foundation for this church. Bishop S.T. Amalnather consecrated and opened the church on the 7 th of October 1987 . It is known as “ Rajakanni Matha Church ”. There was a chapel for Mary Magdalene built by the Jesuits in 1850. When this building deteriorated, in that place St. Mary Magdalene grotto was erected. Fr. Soosainather built a grotto for the Sacred Heart of Jesus in 1930. As it was destroyed by the wind, Fr. Maria Kagoo built in the same place another grotto with stones, which was blessed by Bishop Roche on the 7 th of October 1938 . This exists even today. Outside the village on the northern bank of Thamirabarani river is a small church dedicated to St. Thomas . It is a popular shrine. This was built with donations from one Maria Sinthathirai Thommasial of Thoothukudi. Then parish priest Fr. Mascaranhas beautified this church.

Parish Priests:

Fr. Joseph Mascaranhas 1998

Patron Saint : Our Lady of Rajakanni (Rajakanni Matha)
Feast of the : First Sunday of October

Side Chapels:

St. Xavier’s Church
St. Thomas Riverside Church
St. Mary Magdalene Grotto
Sacred Heart Grotto

Substations:

Sernthamangalam
Church constructed in: 1937
St. Michael the Archangel Church

North Athur
Church constructed in: 1870
St. James Church

Maranthalai
Church constructed in: 1936
St. Catherine Church

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