memories of family outings.....

Saturday

The early european footsteps .....

   Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica , Fort Kochi.

Five centuries old Roman Catholic place of worship , one of the landmarks of Fort Kochi .A handsome white edifice with two soaring spires built  in a blend of Indo-European and Gothic  styles. 
The interior is  richly decorated with frescos and mosaics, created by the 19 th Century Italian painter, Fra Antonio Moscheni and his Indian student, DeGama.
But the building  itself is not 500 year old. 
Commander Dom Alfonso Albuquerque of Portugal, arriving  with the second exploratory fleet,in 1500,  helped the king of Cochin to repel the predatory advances of the Zamorin of Calicut . And  received , as thanksgiving, the right to build a Fort in Cochin .The generous King must have thought the whitepeople would load their ships with pepper and sit around happily confined to their little fort ! Alas, alas ! History turned out so different ! 
In 1505, the King permitted the Portuguese Viceroy to build a church , within the fort, " using stone and mortar " , an unprecedented privilege , as the prevailing custom was against usage of Stone and Mortar for anything other than royal palaces and Temples ! 
The church Santa Cruz was raised to Cathedral status by the Pope in 1558 , with Cochin getting the second RC Diocese in India, after Quilon. 
When the Dutch conquered Cochin in 1663, they wrecked and razed all Catholic edifices , but spared Santa Cruz and another church . They used these  large buildings as storehouses for their arms. 
In 1795, Cochin was taken over by the British . Apparently, they had no need for beautiful storehouses ! Santa Cruz Catherdral was demolished completely. Just one pillar of the old building remains today , and it is preserved as a memorial in the premises. 

Re- building  of the cathedral , from scratch , was started in 1887, due to the initiative and tireless endeavours of the Bishops and the present building was consecrated in 1905 . Pope John Paul raised it to Basilica status in 1984 .
The Fra who decorated the interiors must have wanted to showcase all his skills in every inch of available space. And then, in modern times they had to instal ceiling fans and lamps  - by the dozen ! Festoons of wires, cords......the view gets too crowded. And bright coats of oilpaint or varnish on the ceiling pictorials do not help to ease the eye. As a compensation for all that visual Noise, there is pin drop silence in the premises!





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