Sunday, September 25, 2011

Idaikattur Church, Tamil Nadu

The current church was built in 1866 by a French priest. Funding for the church was made by a French woman who was cured from a heart ailment and wanted to show her gratitude by having a church built in the missionary country of India. One of her conditions was that the building must be a replica of the Rheims Cathedral in France. The structure at Idaikattur is built in the Gothic style, with a vaulted roof supported by columns with cantilevers. Between the two roofs are small openings, which helps with circulation. Inside are 153 angels, some on the altar, others as sculptures around the church, and still others in stained glass windows. In addition, there are relics of 40 saints. Unlike most depictions of the Sacred Heart of Jesus which have the heart placed in the middle of the chest, this church has the heart in the left chest, just like humans. This human quality is attractive to pious visitors. The Sacred Heart of Jesus statue is one of three made, with the other two being placed at the convent of St. Margret and another in Rheims.

The church is one of the sites on the pilgrimage tour. It is believed that the petitions of the pilgrims are granted within one month from the time they are raised. In particular, relief from all kinds of psychological and heart ailments, to have happy marriages, to have children, get prompt employment, become debt-free, have family peace, excellent education for one’s children, and return to health.

Notice in the interior photo that there are but a few pews. The rest of the people sat, squatted, or kneeled on the cool, marble floor, except for a few elderly/physically limited individuals seated in a few plastic chairs scattered near the edge of the church. Such an arrangement certainly enabled more pilgrims to cram into the space!

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