KATTANAM ST. STEPHEN’S ORTHODOX CHURCH
Est. May 25th 1835 (Idavam 15th 1010)
Kattanam St. Stephen’s Orthodox Church which is known as “Valiyapally” was established in the name of Saint Stephen and was the first church in Kattanam. During those days all the Christians use to come to this church and this was followed generation after generation. People around here have a sentimental attachment with this church now also since most of there ancestor had the last sleep and eternal rest in these churchyards. Even though some of the Christians migrated to other denominations of Christianity, today also most of them have belief on blessing and have a mediator ship showered by St. Stephen.
The non Christian people who belong to other religions including scheduled cast and scheduled tribes consider this as their own holy place and consider St. Stephen their “Holly Father” who save them from all calamites and they adorn the unseen presence of St. Stephen. That is why so many non Christians accept the holy “Rasa” with candle and welcome the “Rasa” in front of their houses. This shows the religions unity in and around Kattanam.
Most of the members of Kattanam church hailed from the Kadambanattu Church which was one of the very old church in the Middle Travancore. But when Kadeesa church was established in Kayamkulam in 835 AD a very big population of Kattanam church joined Kadeesa church and become the members. Kattanam near Onattukara was very fertile land and during those days so many Christian and families migrated to this place and they became very good farmers of the place who use to dedicate paddy with grains to the king as royal present. The name Kattanam had came to this place since paddy was the main cultivation of this place and katta means paddy with grains.
The Christians had become a very strong community in this area and their only wish was to have a holy place for their prayer and worship. In the heart of Kattanam could get 5 acres and 56 cents from Piralasseri Puthan Vilayil family owned by Thuruthiyil Shri Sankaran. This was registered on 20th day of Vrichikam 1010 by giving 101 rasi. Mr. Sankaran liberally contributed 100 rasi for the construction of the church. The church was blessed by Cheppad Philipose Mar Dionysius, (Malankara Metropolitan of The Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church during 1825 – 1855) in the name of the first Martydan St. Stephen. The church was completed in 25th May 1835 (15th Idavam 1010).
Pulikkothil Mar Dionysius had very good appreciation about this Diocese. He use to give instructions and advices and blessings to this church. The emergence of another denomination of Christianity called Marthoma Sabha has become a threat to this church. This led to the division of Dioceses. The reformation introduced by the Anglican Missionaries Palakkunnath Abraham Malpan and Mathews Athanasius had many worshippers and the followers in the Dioceses. Even though St. Gregoriose (Parumala Kochu Thirumeni) visited the church and tried to pacify the problems which existed between the two groups it failed and the rivalry between these groups remained as such which ruined the church. There was no body to maintained church. Naturally after 105 years the roof of the church had fallen down and fully destroyed by natural calamites. Later a case was filed in the Munisiff court Krishnapuram for the assets by both the groups. In order to continue the normal prayer the Marthoma group had constructed a small chapel in the place where the church existed.
On far with, this church had to face so many other problems. The Bishop Bansigar Thirumeni of Kollam Dioceses had instructed Father Lorance Parera who belonged to Puthupalli Chettikkuzhi, to procure land in Vettikkottu 5th mile and construct a church to bring all the Christians together under the Catholic Sabha. But this was opposed by Bishops of Marthoma sabha like Thevar Velilachan, Thumbaman Puthan Veettilachan and Father C.M. Thomas who later known as Marthoma Dionysius Thirumeni.
By the time Geevargheese Mar Gregorius Thirumeni who later become St. Geevarghese Mar Gregorios Parumala(Catholicose 2nd) visited the Dioceses , lived for the welfare and reformation of church and its members. Father Perera had to shifted his church to Charumoodu and established a Marthoma church there.
Even though Kattanam church faced oppositions from Mar Ivanios Thirumeni’s Reeth movement the Diocese survived without much disturbances Mar Ivanius and his follower’s could make a Malankkara Syrian Reeth Dioceses.
Seeing the pathetic and damaged condition of the church , around fourty people entered into the church and conducted prayer’s. These people where arrested and this had become a criminal case. Finally the case was compromised and assets of the church were divided into 4 given to Orthodox Marthoma Father Carathil and Mankavil Achan. The reconstruction of the church was done by the great efforts and hard work rentered by the priests celergy men and the common people of Kattanam. Even the stones and other buildings materials were brought as head load by the priests and other people. The inauguration of the church was done on 8th Makaram 1115 (A.D 1940) by H. H. Baselios Geevarghese II and the ownership of the church was registered in his name.
At that time only 750 households were there in the Diocese. This has increased and the new generation wanted to have another big church for their worship. Under this Diocese a new church was inaugurated on October 27th 1989. The consecration of the new church done by H. H. Baselios Mar Thoma Mathews II under the blessings of H. G. Thomas Mar Thimothios, H. G. Dr. Geevarghese Mar Osthatheos, H. G. Mathews Mar Ephiphanios, H. G. Paulose Mar Pachomius and H. G, Dr. Yakob Mar Irenious. Befor five or six years utilizing all the resources of the church a new church was constructed spending 75 lakhs ( ¾ crores). This become the biggest church Malankara by the grace of God Almighty. This church now also keeps the name of the first church in respect of St. Stephen. His mediatorship and players remain with this church always.
The Milestones in the History
1. The consecration of Kattanam church was done by H. B. Mar Dionysius Cheppad on 10th Edavam 1010.
2. Reconstruction consecration done by H. H. Baselios Geevarghese II on 8th Makaram 1115.
3. Present Church’s Foundation Stone was laid by H.H Mathews Mar Coorilos who was the Metropolitan and Head of Kollam Diocese on October 27th 1986.
4. The consecration of the new church done by H. H. Baselios Mar Thoma Mathews II.
5. The key of new church was handed over to H. H. Baselios Mar Thoma Mathews II by Jacob.E.George , the Treasure of the church.