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The Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica in Fort Kochi is one of the eight Basilicas in India. This heritage edifice of Kerala is also one of the finest and imposing churches in India. Located close to the renowned St. Francis Church, this basilica serves as the cathedral church of the Diocese of Cochin, the second oldest Diocese of India. It is a place of devotion as well as a center of historic significance, endowed with architectural and artistic grandeur and colours of the gothic style.
The history of Santa Cruz Basilica begins with the arrival of Portuguese missionaries along with the second basilica Portuguese fleet under Pedro Álvares Cabral on December 24, 1500AD. The Cochin King Godha Varma I received them very warmly. This caused the Zamorin of Calicut to declare war against Cochin. But the Portuguese army under Commander Dom Afonso de Albuquerque who reached Cochin in 1503 defeated the enemies of the King of Cochin and in return he gave them permission to build a fort in Cochin.
1505 – Building the 1st church
In 1505, Dom Francisco de Almeida the first Portuguese Viceroy got permission from the Cochin Raja to build a church edifice using stones and mortar which was unheard of at that time as the local prejudices were against such a structure for any purpose other than a royal palace or a temple. The foundation stone of the Santa Cruz church was laid on May 3, 1505, the feast day of the ‘Invention of the Holy Cross’, hence the magnificent edifice when completed was named Santa Cruz. This Church was located on the eastern side of the present Children’s Park, Fort Cochin.
1558 – Raising to the Status of Cathedral
In 1558, Pope Paul IV, raised the Santa Cruz Church to the status of a Cathedral along with the foundation of the Cochin diocese as the second diocese in India. Afterwards when the Dutch conquered Cochin in 1663, they destroyed all catholic buildings. Only the St. Francis Church and the Cathedral escaped this fate. The Dutch made the Cathedral their arms storehouse. Later it fell into the hands of the British who demolished it when they took over Cochin in 1795. One of the decorative granite pillars of the destroyed Cathedral is still kept as a monument at the southeastern corner of the present Basilica premises.
1887 – Rebuilding the Cathedral
About 100 years later, Bishop D. Joao Gomes Ferreira (1887-1897) who reached Cochin took initiative to erect the present Cathedral and commenced the construction, but it was the next bishop, D. Maheus de Oliveira Xavier (1897-1909) who completed the edifice. The Cathedral was consecrated on November 19, 1905 by Dom Sebastiao Jose Pereira, Bishop of Damao.
1984 – Raising to Basilica
Considering the antiquity, artistic dignity and historical significance, Blessed Pope John Paul II, by his Decree Constat Sane Templum Sanctae Cruci of December 19, 1984, raised the Santa Cruz Cathedral to the status of Basilica.
2004 – Celebrating the Quincentenary
Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica is a Roman Catholic place of worship that celebrated five centuries of its existence only very recently in 2004.
Opening Closing Time9 am – 1 pm and 3 pm – 5 pm, Saturdays – 3 pm to 6 pm.
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