History cuddles you in very many ways in Fort Kochi. This versatile portion of Kochi takes us to a ride along the pages of past that is marked by historical edifices and structures. This time we are taking you to one such inimitable landmark where devotion embraces history, artistry, and architectural grandeur.
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.
The history of Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica dates back to the sixteenth century and begins with the arrival of Portuguese missionaries in 1500 CE. The construction works started when the first Portuguese Viceroy Dom Francisco de Almeida got permission from the Cochin Raja to build a church. The foundation stone was laid on May 3, 1505, the feast day of the ‘Invention of the Holy Cross’, hence the church was named Santa Cruz. Meanwhile the church had undergone some serious demolition and re-erection. The present day structure was consecrated on 19 November 1905. In 1984 Pope John Paul II raised the status of Santa Cruz Cathedral to Basilica for its antiquity, artistic dignity and historical importance.
This amazing construction has two lofty spires that welcomes all even from a distance. The exterior is white-washed and astonishingly bright and the interior is pastel-coloured. The interior of the church has Gothic style architecture with its overwhelming arches and an awe-inspiring altar. The main altar was decorated by the renowned Italian painter Fr Antonio Moscheni and his disciple De Gama of Mangalore. Their contribution is still vivid in the columns that are decorated with frescoes and murals. The seven large canvas paintings including a beautiful reproduction of the ‘Last Supper’ by Leonardo da Vinci are a real feast for the eyes. The ceilings of the church are adorned with paintings that depict scenes from the Via Crucis of Christ. The beautiful stained glass windows are another attraction.