The St. Francis Church is one of the most distinguished monuments in Kochi with a history that dates back to the 16th century. Tourists who wish to take a leap into the yesteryears, the St. Francis Church would be a paradise with hidden wonders. The church has a great historical relevance as it was a silent witness of the European colonization in this region. The St. Francis Church is located in the heart of Fort Kochi and is one of the most momentous places to visit in Kochi.
History of St. Francis Church
The St. Francis Church, dedicated to St. Bartholomew, was built around 1503 by the Portuguese traders who reached the Kingdom of Kochi with their Admiral Pedro Alvarez de Cabral. The journey to Kochi was easy for them as they just had to follow the path of their legendary explorer Vasco DA Gama, who landed at Kappad, Calicut in the year 1498. The Portuguese traders had put up the church with a mixture of mud and wood. In the year 1506, they received permission from the Maharaja to reconstruct it with stones. The reconstruction got over in the year 1516 and Portuguese dedicated the new church to St. Antony. During the year 1663, the Dutch invaded the Kingdom of Kochi and the rule went into their hands. Since the Dutch were protestants, they demolished all the churches made by the others except the St. Francis Church.
The Dutch couldn’t keep it under their possession for a long time as they had to surrender it to the British rulers around 1804. During the British rule, the church was renamed and rebuilt to its present shape under the Anglican Church in 1886. It is only in the year 1923, the church became a protected monument under the Protected Monuments Act of 1904.
Significance of St. Francis Church
The St. Francis Church Kerala is the oldest existing European church in India. The legendary Portuguese explorer Vasco Da Gama was buried in the St. Francis Church in the year 1524. Even though his remains were later taken to Portugal, the church still have the burial spot and tombstone inside, which attracts more number of visitors to this historic church. A war memorial was built later in front of the church in memory of those soldiers from Kochi who lost their lives during the World War I.
The St. Francis Church architecture is the old European style with very less decorative elements unlike other European church construction models. The interior of the church reflects the ancient Indo-European architecture with wooden roof and stone flooring.
St. Francis Church Timings and Entry Fee
- The St. Francis Church is open to all every day of the week.
- The St. Francis Church timings are: 7.00 am to 6.30 pm (Monday to Saturday) and 8.30 am to 6.30 pm (on Sunday)
- Every Sunday, there will be a special mass organized in the church for all the believers who pursue CSI followings.
How to reach St. Francis Church
The St. Francis Church is located in the main of Fort Kochi which makes it easily accessible from every corner of Kochi city. Travelers could either hire a private car, ferries or any public transport to reach the church.