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Tangasseri cathedral

Tangasseri with its colourful history of conquests, invasions and colonization has an enviable place in the history of our country's quest for freedom. Reminiscence of the colonial past is retold by the remnants of the Portuguese fort, Dutch and English cemeteries and the towering lighthouse, which has become the landmark of Quilon Town. Being an ancient port it became a centre of settlement of Christians from abroad as well as St. Thomas Christians.

The Portuguese who came to Quilon in 1503 led by Alphonso De Alburquerque made Tangasseri a well-fortified city by building a fort, which was clled San Thome fort. Jesuits made Tangasseri their base of mission work in the coastal belt of Quilon, Trivandrum and Tamilnadu. St. Francis Xavier stayed in Tangasseri in 1544 & 1549 and established a college (San Salvadore College) where the catechumens were trained and baptized. The Jesuits also founded a printing press in Tangasseri. (San Salvadore seminary Press) from where Catechism texts in Indian languages were printed. �Doctrina Christa in Lingua Malabar Tamil' printed in this press was the first printed work in any Indian language.

There were seven churches and six monasteries within the fortified city. In 1661 the Portuguese were defeated by Dutch, who with revenge demolished all the churches and monasteries and all the missionaries had to leave .

The Dutch left Tangasseri in 1742 when they were defeated by the Travancore forces. Soon the Carmelites stepped in to revive the Catholic life in Tangasseri. In 1789 Bon Jesu Church was built by missionaries from Verapoly. In 1838 when Malabar Vicariate was erected with Verapoly as head quarters, Quilon was joined to it. Tangasseri retained its pivotal position in ecclesiastical parlance and became the base for Carmelite expeditions. In 1845 Quilon vicariate was formed Msgr Charles Hyacinth Valerga pro-vicar Apostolic of Quilon died in Tangasseri on December 24, 1864 and was buried in the church. His successor Msgr. Maria Ephrem Carrelon was consecrated in Tangasseri in 1866.

On September 14, 1905 Msgr. Aloysius Maria Benziger the Auxiliary Bishop of Quilon was installed as the Bishop of Quilon in this church. The British who landed in Tangasseri in 1809 made. Tangasseri their special enclave and it was ruled directly till 1948. The British built the lighthouse in 1902 and the Arch in 1938. An unusual blending of Portuguese, Dutch and British culture, architecture and life style made Tangasseri a unique and enviable place. The Pro-Cathedral, unique in its architecture, unfortunately is now a mere memory. The Bishop's House in Olikara �Polocitykara' in Portuguese records built in 1529 was the residence of the Portuguese Governor. A new cathedral is now under construction.

Contact: The Parish Priest

Infant Jesus Cathedral Church,Tangasseri � 691 007

Tel: 2797870

© 2005 ++ Quilon Diocese++. All rights reserved

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