St Francis ChurchSt Francis Church is one among the ancient European churches to be seen in India and it is situated in Fort Kochi. The church looks stunning and its architecture makes it look distinct.
History of St Francis Church
The Portuguese followers of Vasco da Gama got permission from Kochi Maharaja to build a fort. Within the premises of this fort a wooden structured church devoted to St. Bartholomew was constructed. In 1506 the church was reconstructed by Franciscan friars using bricks, mortar and tilted roofs. The new church was committed to St Antony and its work was completed by 1516.
In 1663 the Dutch captured Kochi and they destroyed all churches except this one. The Portuguese happened to be Roman Catholics while the Dutch were Protestants so the latter renovated it and made it into their church. By 1795 the British were able to establish their control over Kochi and the Dutch had to give away this church to the Anglican Communion. They named it St Francis Church but later on this became the property of government. In April 1923 it became a protected monument of the Church and later it was passed over to the Archeological Survey of India. But it’s currently run by the Church of South India which is a group of Protestant Churches.
Vasco da Gama Connection
In 1524 the Portuguese traveler, Vasco da Gama died during his stay in Kerala. He was buried in the St Francis Church but after 14 years his remains were taken back to his homeland, Lisbon. Even today you can see the tomb stone of this great legend and it is kept in memory. This church also has tombstones of Portuguese and the Dutch who once resided in Kochi. In the year 1920 a cenotaph was built in reminisce for all the people of Kochi who lost their lives in World War I.
Architecture of St Francis Church
The St Francis Church has a magnificent structure and features a timber-framed roof with tiles. You can spot two pinnacles on either side of church and it gives it the traditional look. The interiors also look impressive with arches and the view of the two pinnacles joining to the roof of the church. The wooden carvings look elegant and just like all churches it’s also got confessional, baptism as well as book rests. The Doop book which records the Dutch baptism and marriages is kept intact here. Several inscriptions of Portuguese and Dutch are also preserved here.
How to Reach St Francis Church
Nearest Railway: Ernakulum Station is approximately at a distance of 12 km.
Airport: The Cochin International Airport is at distance of 45 km.
Timings: The Church is open on all weekdays from 10 am-5pm