Thiruvithamcode St. Mary’s Orthodox Church – World’s Oldest Existing Church Structure
Thiruvithamcode St. Mary’s Orthodox Church is believed to be the oldest existing church in the world with daily prayers. It is situated at Thiruvithamkod in Kanyakumari Dist. This church is believed to be constructed by Saint Thomas in 63 A.D. It’s called the ‘Half’ church, out of the “Seven and a half” churches built by Saint Thomas in south India.
Image courtesy – church website
World’s oldest existing church structure is also known as Thiruvithamcode Arappally. Ara means half and pally means church, in the south Indian language of Malayalam. This church is also known as Amalagiri church, as named by Uthiyan Cheralathan, the Chera King. It is also known as Royal Church, Thomayar Kovil, etc. (Kovil means place of worship in the local language, Tamil)
St. Mary’s Orthodox Church at Thiruvithamcode was declared as an international St. Thomas pilgrim center, on December 16, 2007, by the Catholicos of the East and Malankara Metropolitan, Baselios Mar Thoma Didymos I.
St. Thomas was one among the twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ. Saint Thomas is also known as the Apostle of India, as he traveled and established churches in Kerala and Tamilnadu. He was cremated at San Thome Basilica near Marina Beach in Chennai, the capital of Tamilnadu state.
How Do I Go to Thiruvithamcode St. Mary’s Orthodox Church?
Thiruvithamcode Church is at around 20 kilometers from Nagercoil town, a major town in south India. It is at a distance of around 2 kilometers from Thuckalay, a small town near to the church. Kanyakumari, the southern most tip of India, is at around 33 kilometers from the world’s oldest existing church with daily services. Thirunelveli town is at around 96 kilometers distance from Thiruvithamcode church.
Nagercoil railway station is the nearest railway station to Thiruvithamcode Arapally.
Thiruvananthapuram city, the capital of Kerala state, is at around 57 kilometers from Thomayar Kovil. Thiruvananthapuram International airport is the nearest airport to Amalagiri church.