Our Lady of Snows Basilica
Pin : 628 001.
Ph.No : 0461-2320854
Tuticorin derives its name â€œ Pearl City â€ from the â€œPearl Fishery Coastâ€ â€“ the stretch of land lying between Rameswarm and Kanyakumari. After the conversion of the pearl fishery coast in the late 1530s, Rev. Pedru Consalves built a small church in Tuticorin and dedicated that to St. Peter in 1538. This is the first church for the whole of the pearl fishery coast. St. Francis Xavier came to Tuticorin in October 1542 and confirmed the faith of the people. The Jesuits who followed him established their first head quarters at Punnaikayal and it was transferred to Tuticorin in 1579. This headquarters was dedicated to St. Paul and began to be known as â€œSan Paulo Covechâ€. Close to this a small church was built a small church known as â€œOur Lady of Mercyâ€. As this church was inaugurated on the 5 th of August 1582 , people began to call it as â€œOur Lady of Snowsâ€ church. In Poruguese language our lady is known fondly as â€œSenhora, Das Nevisâ€.
There are various traditions about the beautiful wooden statue of Our Lady of Snows. One such tradition has it that the statue was in a convent of the Augustinian nuns in Manila , the Philippines . Francis Xavier was in Manila for a few days. When he saw the statue he requested the nuns to send it to the newly converts in Tuticorin â€“ perhaps as a way to divert the yet lingering attachment of the newly converts from Madurai Meenakshi or Kanyakumari Bhagavathi to Our Lady.
Despite their initial refusal, the nuns nonetheless sent the statue after the death of St. Francis. On the 9 th of June 1655 , the statue of our lady arrived from Sri Lanka and Rev. Michael Vaz, the Vicar General of Goa diocese installed it in the church of St. Paul , at the Jesuit headquarters. In 1658 as the Dutch captured Tuticorin along with the Jusuit headquarters and the church of Our Lady of Mercy, the Jesuits left them and lived in the nearby forests. The Dutch destroyed both the Jesuit headquarters and the church in 1695, and built instead a graveyard named Keracope. The Dutch Governor who came to Tuticorin later, in order to get support of people, allowed the Jesuits to work in the city and build a thatched church near the graveyard.
Rev. Vijilius Mansi who served as the parish priest of Tuticorin kept the statue of Our Lady of Snows safely in his own room. In the midnight on the 4 th of April 1704 thunder hit this statue. But, both the statue and Rev. Mansi who had been praying in front of the statue miraculously escaped. In rememberence of this incident he built a church near with stones near Kerecope graveyard, with permission from the governer. This is the present church of our lady of snows. The foundation was laid for this church on the 4 th of April 1712 .
It was solemnly inaugurated on the 5 th of August 1713 . The then Jesuit provincial Rev. Emmanuel Pereira solemnized the mass with 7 other concelebrants. When the Jesuits left the pearl fishery coast in 1773 priests from Goa diocese took care of the church. They refused to give the church to the priest from Toulouse diocese sent by the propaganda of Rome in 1836. To solve this problem temporarily pope Leo XIII put this church under Mylapore diocese of the Goa mission. After Tuticorin was made into a diocese, pope Pius XI according to the contract he made with the Portugal king, gave the church to Bishop Roche, the first Bishop of the diocese. Rev. Ambrose Messier became the first parish priest under the new diocese of Tuticorin. The last parish priest of this church under Mylapore diocese was Rev. Joseph. Popularly known as â€œPeria Koilâ€ ( Big Church ), it is now a Basilica. On the 30 th of July 1982 , on the day of its 400 th anniversary, Pope John Paul II raised this famous church, a Basilica through his apostolic letter â€œPervenute ille Dei Beatissimae Genitricis Effigiesâ€.
Rev. Paul Robinston 1995
Patroness : Our Lady of Snows
Feast of the Patroness : 5 th of August
Interior port (Thomaiyarpuram)