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A symbol of amity



The Kadamattom church.

THE ST. GEORGE Church, Kadamattom, is in the news for two reasons - the State Government declared it as a protected monument recently, the television serial `Kadamattathu Kathanaar' has become a topic of discussion among the young and the old.

The main church and the small church (called Poyedam church) have remained closed since August 1998 because of the feud between the Orthodox and Jacobite factions. They now conduct services in chapels built nearby.

But this would not stop the inflow of devotees to the church. The recognition in the form of monument has, in fact, made it a place of attraction for domestic tourists as well.

Though consecrated in the 5th century, the present structure is said to have been constructed a few decades back.

People come to offer prayers and light candles and incense sticks at the church, which is located around 30 km from Kochi.

The `pallimalika' on the side and the church entrance have heavy influence of Kerala and temple architecture.

The structures look ill-maintained, but the pebbled lawns offer an impressive view of the church.

The cemetery at the back of the church is used by both the factions.

The Jacobite faction priest, Philip Varghese, welcomed the protected-monument status conferred on the church by the State Government.

"Efforts are being made to throw open the church for Sunday mass," he said.

The priest of the Orthodox faction, M.V. Abraham Poovathumveettil, says that no official communication has come about the church being made a protected monument.

On the TV serial, he says that many of the events shown in it are just stories.

"They do not even show the church. The brown dress worn by the Kathanar in the serial is usually worn only by Catholic priests," he said.

Local lore says that Mar Abo, a Persian Bishop with supernatural powers, came to the church in the 5th century.

Once he `created' food for a poor widow and her starving son, who were working in the house of a local `Kartha'.

She told the `Kartha' of his powers and the Bishop cured an insane woman in the Kartha's house.

The place for the church was given by the Kartha, as a gift. The widow's son, Paulose, was ordained a priest and he became better known as Kadamattom Kathanar.

He is said to have got magical powers from the Mar Abo, said Fr Abraham.

The Kathanar was said to compete with local sorcerers. In the process, he is said to have worked wonders like creating a chair from nowhere, crossing over to the other side of a river on a plantain leaf, etc.

The church is highlighted as an apt example of the amity that exists between Hindus and Christians. Many of the devotees are non-Christians.

The church boasts of having one of the five Persian crosses in India. Oil paintings adorn the interiors.

By John L. Paul

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