The Chruch elevated to the Status of Shrine
Thirukalyanamatha Church at Pothakalanvilai in Thoothukudi District was proclaimed as shrine by the Message read out by Most .Rev.Dr.Yvon Ambroise on May 12, 2013 at the Mass held to mark this Occasion.
Thirukalyana Matha’s Audience to the Children.
While some School Children were having their midday meals at the Church campus, Mother Mary gave them holy audience ( Dharshan)
She was in full splendor with infant Jesus at her bosom. Angels from heaven accompanied her singing hymns. In the Church Jesus Christ at the cross looked in full glow with blood dripping from the wounds and veins turned into the colour of green. The children revealed this holy audience of Mother Mary to the parish priest and the Village people. A large gathering came to the church and offered prayers in glory of Mother Mary.
The History of pothakalanvilai Village:
Pothakalanvilai is a parish in Thoothukudi District with a unique tradition. At the earlier period it was very much backward in Socio – Economic perspective. But later due to the selfless service and spiritual guidance of the parish priests, pothakalanvilai turned into a famous one and got a pride of place among other parishes. The Shining moment came when the church was proclaimed as shrine.
The origin of pothakalanvilai.
The Apostles who came to Malabar in the footsteps of St.Thomas gave baptism to the people living here at the very early period. The Tamil speaking area was carved out into Malabar. The fact that Mother Mary attained Divine grace with all her worldly appearance made many churches dedicated to her.
The Seafarers and Merchants from Europe who landed at Tamil shores came to Pothakalanvilai via Manapad and offered prayers to Mother Mary. They got their prayer requests heard especially on long delayed Marriages. The couples visiting this church were blessed with children. It is they who called her Thirukalyana Matha .As a follow up some families from Manapad came to live in Pothakalanvilai. In the following years they migrated to other places.
It is interesting to note that a reference is found in Puliampatti St.Antony’s history that one Mr. Maria Thommai Nadar lived in pothakalanvilai village near sathankulam and he was instrumental in establishing st.Antony’s church in a small thatched hut at Puliambatti.
At the very earlier period people from Nagercoil area came to pothakalanvilai to eke out their living by palmyra tapping. They were traditional Christians.
There is also a reference to the effect that St.Francis who had his base at Manapad visited Pothakalanvilai .Comparing these facts there is a conclusion that the origin of Pothakalanvilai dated back to 600 years.
The reasons surmised on how pothakalanvilai got its name:
There are a number of reasons alluded to how Pothakalanvilai got its name. But there are two reasons that stood out most. First, It is a known fact that any individual’s land in our area is referred to by the name of its owner.
Long back a man of importance at Pothakalanvilai owned major land area at the central place. He had swollen legs due to Filariasis(elephentasis) disease. He was called Pothakalan for his swollen legs. There is a story over the years to the effect that Pothakalanvilai got its name from this man.
Second, there is a reference found in the note pad of sokkankudiyiruppu parish priest who wrote that ‘ He was going to Pothagar Helen Vilai to say Mass’. This came to be called as Pothkalanvilai in later years.
Some 60 years back the prime occupation of Pothakalanvilai was palmyra tapping. Later a large number of people from this village went to Srilanka- then called Ceylon- and earned well by setting up of their own businesses. Atleast one person from each family of this village went to Ceylon on business errand. Now many people of this village are living in different parts of Tamil Nadu owning a number of businesses.
The Origin of First church at Pothakalanvilai:
The first church was erected at the place where the present car is housed. It was only a half of the area from the present shrine car parking space. The Guardian saint was St.Aloysius. Yet people used to offer prayers to Thirukalyana Matha. There is a reference to this fact from the folksong traditionally offered at the car procession written by Rev.Fr.T.Mascrenaus . In this folksong dedicated to Thirukalyana Matha, Pothakalanvilai is referred to as Porpai Nagar and also that Thirukalyana Matha is our guardian Mother.
The special features of Thirukalyana Matha Shrine:
There are only 3 churches in the entire world dedicated toThirukalayana Matha. One is in France and the other two are at Pondicherry and Pothakalanvilai. This is a unique feature of Pothakalanvilai.
St.Anne’s Convent was established by Rev.Fr.Pancar on 19-03-1930 at pothakalanvilai by the order of Most.Rev.Thibursius Roch. Since then Rev.Sisters are doing great service for the people of Pothakalanvilai.
The following schools are established at pothakalanvilai in various periods.
- 1926: St.Mary’s Primary School
- 1932: St.Valan’s Primary School
- 1953: St.Mary’s Middle School
- 1986: St.Mary’s High School
- 1988: St.Mary’s Hr.Sec.School
The schools are functioning in the highest tradition of Love, Truth and service. The prime motto is to impart knowledge, discipline and Talent irrespective of caste or Religion.
The Parish priests on the Timeline of Pothakalanvilai:
Pothakalanvilai was carved out from the erstwhile parishes of Anakarai, periyathalai, and Sokkankudiyiruppu.
- The first parish priest was Rev.Fr.pancar. He Served for14 years.
- Rev.Fr.T.Mascranaus was parish priest from 1949 to 1953. The post office was established during his tenure. The foundation was laid for the present church during his period.
- Rev.Fr.M.S.Antony was parish priest from 1953-1965 . The church work was done upto the roof level. St.Mary’s Middle School was started at his tenure.
- Rev.Fr.M.Lourdumani was parish priest from 1965 to 1970
- The repair work on the church was done. The great Dome was erected during his period.
- Rev.Fr.A.M.Kagoo was parish priest from 1970 to 1972. The Tiled roofing was done and the great altar was dedicated during his tenure. The present church was dedicated on 23-01-1971 by Most .Rev.Thomas. The centrally located, majestic flag mast was set up during his period.
- Rev.Fr.A.Rajareegam was parish priest from 1972 to1976. The outer wall cement pasting was done during his tenure. The altar work was completed.
- Rev.Fr.J.Rathinaraj was Parish priest from 1976 – 1978. He helped the people with the scheme ‘Food for work’. Under this help many thatched huts were changed into tiled houses.
- Rev.Fr.S.Francis was parish priest during 1978 – 1979. He turned his attention more on spiritual activities.
- Rev.Fr.A.Navamani was parish priest during 1979 – 1982. He erected a Grotta for St.Antony at the southern part of pothakalanvilai. He established kamarajar Primary School at the tiny village of vairavam.
- Rev. Fr.Lourdumani was parish priest for the second time during 1982 – 1985. He renovated the church car in the year 1984.
- Rev. Fr.peter Rajah.A. was parish priest during 1985 – 1991 . The existing St.Mary’s Middle school was elevated to High School and later to the Higher Secondary school. Diploma in Teacher Education course was conducted for one batch of students during his period. Altar work was renovated at his time.
- Rev.Fr.A.J.Rex. was parish priest from 1991to 1994. During his period church Gopurams were aesthetically erected with the dedication of jesus Christ’s statue at the top.
- Rev.Fr.Xavier Arul Raj was parish priest during 1994 – 1999. He established the great Mandap (portico) in the front and illuminated the church with lightings in style. The Majestic Grotta dedicated to Mother Lourdes Mary was built during his tenure. He built the long compound wall around the church and made lighting arrangements.
- Rev.Fr.M.Irudaya Raja was parish priest during 1999 – 2004. The present Higher secondary building was constructed during his time. St.Antony’s Grotta was renovated.
- Rev.Fr.Arul Thanaseelan was prish priest during 2004 – 2009. The Shrine Car House was erected during his tenure
- Rev.Fr.Fabion Joseph was parish priest during 2009 - 2014. Due to his concerted efforts, Thirukalyana Matha church was proclaimed as shrine in the Historic Mass by Most Rev.Dr.Yvon Ambroise,Bishop of Tuticorin on 21-05 – 2013.
- Rev.Fr.R. Joseph Ravi Balan is the present parish priest from July 2014 onwards.
There are a number of instances where Girls and young women whose marriage proposals are pending for long due to various factors get their marriage dates fixed once they visit ThirukalyanaMatha shrine and offer Prayers.
There are instances of issueless couples blessed with healthy children after they offer prayers at ThirukalyanaMatha shrine.
Prayers on owning houses, Successful businesses, lucrative jobs, good health, education of children, Cure from diseases are heard and granted.
Important schedules of the Shrine
- First Tuesday of every month – Evening Mass at st.Antony’s Grotta.
- First Wednesday: Evening Mass at Lourde’s Grotta
- Second Wednesday: Evening Mass at the Grotta at the Four way junction.
- First Friday : Visiting the sick people in their homes and offering them Holy Communion.
- Mass at 6 A.M. during all other days at the Shrine Church
- Evening Benediction on First Saturdays and all Sundays
Facilities at the shrine campus:
- Stalls for purchasing holy things.
- Lodging rooms fully furnished for the devotees.
- Protected Drinking water facilities.
- Easily available Food Arrangements.
- Bus and Van Arrangements for the devotees who frequent the shrine from various places.
- Good sanitary Arrangements with a number of Toilets and Baths
- First Aid Facility and Doctors at hand very near.
- Separate Arrangements for Devotees who wish to give Asanam’ (Mass Feeding) and other related wishes like tonsure and ear tipping.